Salesforce.com Has a Secret that’s Fueling its Blistering Growth

It has long been accepted wisdom that technology purchases are controlled by CIOs and their IT departments. Not any more, says one of the world’s best-performing technology companies, backed by the latest research. In their Q4 2016 earnings call, top Salesforce.com executives credited their blockbuster growth and best-ever performance to a shift in sales efforts that target CEOs.

“There is definitely a transformation going on at Salesforce…. I was at Oracle 13 years, I never made a sales call on a CEO,” said Salesforce founder and CEO Mark Benioff. “Never [was the] CEO buying product, being that chief digital officer himself or herself.”

But today, everything has changed. Salesforce recognizes that CEOs are central to buying decisions.

“CEO’s are all about transformation, and in many ways have become the chief transformation officers for [their] companies.”

“The world has turned,” explains Keith Bloch, Salesforce vice chairman, president, COO and former Oracle executive. “CEO’s are all about transformation, and in many ways they have become the chief transformation officers for [their] companies. They are personally involved, they are personally engaged, and they want to talk to us and they are very interested in us playing the role of trusted advisor. They’re interested in our thought leadership.”

“In the last three weeks, I’ve had more conversations with CEOs around transformation than in my entire career over 30-plus years,” adds Block.

“I look at the large transactions we did with the largest banks in the world, the largest insurance companies in the world, the largest media companies in the world, the largest technology companies in the world,” says Benioff. “Every single transaction was done with the Chief Executive Officer.”

Independent research confirms the increasing importance of CEOs in tech decisions. In the IDG study, Role & Influence of the Technology Decision-Maker, large enterprise IT pros (11,639 average employees) say that no one in their organization surpasses the CEO when it comes to authorizing and approving IT purchases, with 55% involvement. Further, 44% agree that CEOs determine the business need for IT purchases, statistically tied with CIO/top IT executives and line-of-business management.

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