Behind the Cloud: Takeaways and Key Points Summary

How did Salesforce grow from a start up in a rented apartment into one of the world's fastest growing software companies in less than a decade? In Behind the Cloud, Marc Benioff, the founder and CEO of salesforce.com, tells how he and his team created and used new business, technology and philanthropic models. Benioff shares the strategies that have inspired employees, turned customers into evangelists, and allowed innovation to flourish.

Key Points From Behind the Cloud

  • Takeaway 1: Don’t be intimidated by an idea’s potential, even if you have to go at it by yourself. The idea behind Salesforce came to Marc Benioff while he was in Hawaii swimming with the dolphins. He got inspired from Siebel Systems, a Customer Relationship Management company that went public that year. The Siebel platform would facilitate the process of managing contacts and tracking leads and account information for salespeople but it was fairly high-maintenance and expensive. Benioff thought he could improve it by using a cloud computing and a “Software-as-a-Service" model
  • Takeaway 2: If you want to be successful, it is important to assert yourself from day one using aggressive marketing. Find the features that make your business unique and share them with the public in an engaging and attractive way.
  • Takeaway 3: Holding events is a great way to market your business. Benioff organized road shows that featured demos, keynote speakers, and customer presentations and brought journalists, analysts, and customers together. This created unbiased Editorials and testimonies.
  • Takeaway 4: Putting the customer at the heart of your business and building trust and loyalty with them is key. It will help you weather any financial storm
  • Takeaway 5: Focus on one product or service at a time. The majority of software companies create custom products for each of their clients. Salesforce, on the other hand, focused on one product that would suit everyone and by doing so managed to gain leverage.

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Favorite Quotes from Behind the Cloud

“One idea alone is a tactic, but if it can be executed a number of different ways, it becomes a great strategy.”

“Seize the opportunity in front of you. Imagine. Invent. Disrupt. Do good. I know that you must be passionate, unreasonable, and a little bit crazy to follow your own ideas and do things differently. But it’s worth it. Life grows relative to one’s investment in it.”

“Realize that you won’t be able to bring the same focus to everything in the beginning. There won’t be enough people or enough hours in the day. So focus on the 20 percent that makes 80 percent of the difference.”

“you must always examine what’s working, evolve your ideas, and change the way you do things.”

“Life grows relative to one’s investment in it.”

“It’s amazing to consider that no matter what size customer we were pitching, or where in the world we were selling, a singular idea drove all our accomplishments: we never sold features. We sold the model and we sold the customer’s success.”

“Business is temporal, whereas relationships are eternal. At its finest, business is friendly competition, just like a game of tennis.”

“Reliability Is a Tech Problem, but the Way You Solve It Is Not with Technology Alone—It’s with Communication”

“Value of a corporation should be distributed not only to its leadership but also to the communities in which it operates and to the world”

― Marc R. Benioff and Carlye Adler, Behind the Cloud
 

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Behind the Cloud Chapters

Chapter 1: Play #1: Allow Yourself Time to Recharge
Chapter 2: Play #2: Have a Big Dream
Chapter 3: Play #3: Believe in Yourself
Chapter 4: Play #4: Trust a Select Few with Your Idea and Listen to Their Advice
Chapter 5: Play #5: Pursue Top Talent as If Your Success Depended on It
Chapter 6: Play #6: Sell Your Idea to Skeptics and Respond Calmly to Critics
Chapter 7: Play #7: Define Your Values and Culture Up Front
Chapter 8: Play #8: Work Only on What Is Important
Chapter 9: Play #9: Listen to Your Prospective Customers
Chapter 10: Play #10: Defy Convention
Chapter 11: Play #11: Have-and Listen to-a Trusted Mentor
Chapter 12: Play #12: Hire the Best Players You Know
Chapter 13: Play #13: Be Willing to Take a Risk - No Hedging
Chapter 14: Play #14: Think Bigger
Chapter 15: Play #15: Position Yourself
Chapter 16: Play #16: Party with a Purpose
Chapter 17: Play #17: Create a Persona
Chapter 18: Play #18: Differentiate, Differentiate, Differentiate,
Chapter 19: Play #19: Make Every Employee a Key Player on the Marketing Team, and Ensure Everyone Is On Message
Chapter 20: Play #20: Always, Always Go After Goliath
Chapter 21: Play #21: Tactics Dictate Strategy
Chapter 22: Play #22: Engage the Market Leader
Chapter 23: Play #23: Reporters Are Writers; Tell Them a Story
Chapter 24: Play #24: Cultivate Relationships with Select Journalists
Chapter 25: Play #25: Make Your Own Metaphors
Chapter 26: Play #26: No Sacred Cows
Chapter 27: Play #27: Feed the Word-of-Mouth Phenomenon
Chapter 28: Play #28: Build Street Teams and Leverage Testimony
Chapter 29: Play #29: Sell to the End User
Chapter 30: Play #30: The Event Is the Message
Chapter 31: Play #31: Reduce Costs and Increase Impact
Chapter 32: Play #32: Always Stay in the Forefront
Chapter 33: Play #33: The Truth About Competition (It Is Good for Everyone)
Chapter 34: Play #34: Be Prepared for Every Scenario ... and Have Fun
Chapter 35: Play #35: Seize Unlikely Opportunities to Stay Relevant
Chapter 36: Play #36: Stay Scrappy ... but Not Too Srappy
Chapter 37: Play #37: Give It Away
Chapter 38: Play #38: Win First Customers by Treating Them Like Partners
Chapter 39: Play #39: Let Your Web Site Be a Sales Rep
Chapter 40: Play #40: Make Every Vustomer A Member of Your Sales Team
Chapter 41: Play #41: Telesales Works (Even Though Everyone Thinks It Doesn't)
Chapter 42: Play #42: Don't Dis Your First Product with a Discount
Chapter 43: Play 43: Sales Is a Number Game
Chapter 44: Play #44: Segment the Markets
Chapter 45: Play #45: Leverage Times of Change
Chapter 46: Play #46: Your Seeds Are Sown, so Grow, Grow, Grow
Chapter 47: Play #47: Land and Expand
Chapter 48: Play #48: Abandon Strategies That No Longer Serve You
Chapter 49: Play #49: Old Customers Need Love
Chapter 50: Play #50: Add It On and Add It Up
Chapter 51: Play #51: Success Is the Number One Selling Feature
Chapter 52: Play #52: Have the Courage to Pursue Your Innovation - Before It Is Obvious to the Market
Chapter 53: Play #53: Invest in the Long Term with a Prototype That Sets a Strong Foundation
Chapter 54: Play #54: Follow the Lead of Companies That Are Loved by Their Customers
Chapter 55: Play #55: Don't Do It All Yourself; Reuse, Don't Rebuild
Chapter 56: Play #56: Embrace Transparency and Build Trust
Chapter 57: Play #57: Let Your Customers Drive Innovation
Chapter 58: Play #58: Make It Easy for Customers to Adopt
Chapter 59: Play #59: Transcend Technical Paradigms
Chapter 60: Play #60: Provide a Marketplace for Solutions
Chapter 61: Play #61: Harness Customers' Ideas
Chapter 62: Play #62: Develop Communities of Collaboration (aka Love Everybody)
Chapter 63: Play #63: Evolve by Intelligent Reaction
Chapter 64: Play #64: The Business of Business Is More Than Buisness
Chapter 65: Play #65: Integrate Philanthropy from the Beginning
Chapter 66: Play #66: Make Your Foundation Part of Your Business Model
Chapter 67: Play #67: Choose a Cause That Makes Sense and Get Experts on Board
Chapter 68: Play #68: Share the Model
Chapter 69: Play #69: Build a Great Program by Listening to the Constituents
Chapter 70: Play #70: Create a Self-Sustaining Model
Chapter 71: Play #71: Share Your Most Valuable Resources - Your Product and Your People
Chapter 72: Play #72: Involve Your Partners, Your Vendors, Your Network
Chapter 73: Play #73: Let Employees Inspire the Foundation
Chapter 74: Play #74: Have Your Foundation Mimic Your Business
Chapter 75: Play #75: Build Global Capabilities into Your Product
Chapter 76: Play #76: Inject Local Leaders with Your Corporate DNA
Chapter 77: Play #77: Choose Your Headquarters and Territories Wisely
Chapter 78: Play #78: Box Above Your Weight
Chapter 79: Play #79: Scale Without Overspending
Chapter 80: Play #80: Understand Sequential Growth
Chapter 81: Play #81: Uphold a One-Company Attitude Across Borders
Chapter 82: Play #82: Follow Strategy, Not Opportunity
Chapter 83: Play #83: Going Far? Take a Partner. Going Fast? Go Alone.
Chapter 84: Play #84: Fine-Tune Your International Strategy
Chapter 85: Play #85: Send Missionaries to Build New Markets
Chapter 86: Play #86: Handle Global Disputes with Diplomacy (aka Light and Love)
Chapter 87: Play #87: Edit an Overarching Outlook
Chapter 88: Play #88: Bring Old Tricks to New Regions
Chapter 89: Play #89: Don't Use a "Seagull Approach"; the Secret to Global Success Is Commitment
Chapter 90: Play #90: Don't Underestimate Your Financial Needs
Chapter 91: Play #91: Consider Fundraising Strategies Other Than Venture Capital
Chapter 92: Play #92: Use Internet Models to Reduce Start-Up Costs
Chapter 93: Play #93: Set Yourself Up Properly from the Beginning, Then Allow Your Financial Model to Evolve
Chapter 94: Play #94: Measure a Fast-Growing Company on Revenue, Not Profitability
Chapter 95: Play #95: Build a First-Class Financial Team
Chapter 96: Play #96: Be Innovative and Edgy in Everything You Do-Except When it Comes to Your Finances
Chapter 97: Play #97: When It Comes to Compliance, Always Play by the Rules
Chapter 98: Play #98: Focus on the Future
Chapter 99: Play #99: Allow for Changes as Your Company Grows
Chapter 100: Play #100: Use V2MOM to Focus Your Goals and Align Your Organization
Chapter 101: Play #101: Use a Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approach
Chapter 102: Play #102: Build a Recruiting Culture
Chapter 103: Play #103: Recruiting Is Sales
Chapter 104: Play #104: Keep Your Standards High as You Grow
Chapter 105: Play #105: How to Retain Top Talent
Chapter 106: Play #106: The Importance of Mahalo
Chapter 107: Play #107: Foster Loyalty by Doing the Right Thing
Chapter 108: Play #108: Challenge Your Best People with New Opportunities
Chapter 109: Play #109 Solicit Employee Feedback-and Act On It
Chapter 110: Play #110: Leverage Everything
Chapter 111: Play #111: Make Everyone Successful

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Editor and Founder

Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.

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