As Salesforce becomes the first SaaS company in history to reach $5 billion in quarterly revenue, what are the big issues founder and CEO Marc Benioff will choose to discuss on the Aug. 25 earnings call?
While Benioff’s exceptionally wide range of interests inside and outside the tech community provide an enormous range of potential topics, here are the five I think will form the foundation of his earnings-call comments.
- The pandemic and its ongoing global impact, including Salesforce’s launch of Work.com and its decision to allow employees to continue working from home for another year;
- Cracking the $5-billion threshold and what that means for where Salesforce is headed;
- Customer 360 and how it’s evolving in the new world of remote everything;
- The ascendancy within Salesforce of Tableau and its data-analytics capabilities; and
- Benioff’s recent overhaul of the global sales organization, now headed by president and CRO Gavin Patterson.
Here’s a thought or two on what Benioff might say about each of those topics:
1. Life—and business—in a post-COVID world
In the early days of the COVID outbreak, Benioff was among the very first big-company CEOs to speak publicly about the potential threat to employees and the need for dramatic countermeasures. As the pandemic raged, Benioff distinguished himself and his company by spearheading a massive procurement of PPE for a Bay Area medical center, which I explored in Marc Benioff: the Extraordinary Ascendancy of a Global Leader. And Salesforce’s rapid rollout of its Work.com solution to help enable safe returns to the workplace further underscores the wide-ranging ways the pandemic has changed Benioff’s company.
2. $5 billion in quarterly revenue: it’s more than just a number
While not the biggest enterprise-apps company in the world—a position SAP intends to retain for years to come—Salesforce has set some remarkable standards in the cloud-applications business. (I analyzed this earlier this year: How Salesforce Plans to Defeat Oracle and SAP While Scaling to $35 Billion.) While Benioff has assiduously focused on the CRM segment and has avoided veering off into adjacent categories such as HCM or ERP, he has also vigorously expanded the definition of “CRM” to keep the growth opportunities coming. And now that Salesforce’s market cap has surpassed that of longtime rival Oracle, Benioff’s game of “catch me if you can” only intensifies.
3. In a world of remote everything, the Customer 360 strategy stands out
Over the past 12-18 months, as Salesforce president Bret Taylor has assumed a more strategic role in the company, Benioff and Taylor have pushed the Customer 360 story to the top of the company’s agenda. Even before COVID, that was a terrific maneuver in a world that was changing incredibly rapidly as consumers and business customers became more demanding and more knowledgeable in the digital era. Layering on top of that imperative the world-shaking implications of the pandemic, and Customer 360 gives Benioff something every company will want.
4. Powered by Tableau, Salesforce becomes an analytics machine
While Salesforce has long offered some basic analytical capabilities, 14 months ago the company decided to jump aggressively into the data economy by acquiring Tableau. Since then, in each quarterly earnings call Tableau and its capabilities have made up a bigger and bigger part of Benioff’s story. In tomorrow’s earnings call, Benioff will surely have a lot to say about Tableau’s ongoing growth as businesses strive to chart the best course into the future. You can read all about that in Marc Benioff’s Secret Weapon: Tableau Turning Salesforce into Analytics Powerhouse.
5. Since Keith Block’s departure, Salesforce seems to be getting stronger
Much was made, and rightfully so, when co-CEO Keith Block left the company about 6 months ago. But Benioff has calmed all fears by rebuilding a new global sales organization under president and CRO Gavin Patterson, who holds that unique vantage point of being a former customer who’s now selling what he used to buy. The arrival of Patterson allows fellow president Taylor to do what he does best—drive product strategy and development—while Patterson reinvigorates the global sales organization for the next phase in Salesforce’s upward journey.
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