Salesforce.com was founded by former Oracle executive Marc Benioff in 1999. Benioff believed software should be free of troublesome installations, maintenance issues, and continuous upgrades. His vision was “to make software easier to purchase, simpler to use, and more democratic.” With that in mind, Benioff led a start-up company called Salesforce.com that offered software-as-a-service (SaaS), or cloud computing.
SaaS differs from old-school software technology because companies pay for the product per use each month, much like a utility bill. Salesforce.com uses the Internet or “cloud” to host its customer relationship management (CRM) applications and to deliver them directly to customers, who can access the software from any device just by logging on to a Web site. They don’t have to invest in servers or software licensing, install the software, or store the data themselves. With this innovative concept, Salesforce.com turned the software industry upside down and created an entirely new multibillion- dollar industry.
From the start, Salesforce.com wanted its products to be everything traditional software wasn’t. Its first product had an extremely user-friendly sales interface that organized contacts, accounts, and opportunities. The company welcomed customer feedback, and as a result it could develop new features to fit users’ needs. Today, The Sales Cloud is Salesforce.com’s key product. It lets companies track leads, change forecasts, collaborate with colleagues, and access real-time customer information, improving productivity and closing more sales.
Salesforce.com next launched The Service Cloud, a CRM solution that changed the way companies connect with their customers. This product provides companies with a call-center view of each customer and the ability to track each case on an individual basis. Users can communicate with customers through every media channel, escalate complaints, and plug into conversations on social networking sites, ultimately resulting in better overall customer service.
From 2010 to 2012, Salesforce.com acquired 19 companies in order to expand its product offerings. In 2011, it purchased Radian6, which allowed it to launch The Marketing Cloud, with which customers can listen to and engage in conversations taking place on public social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. In addition, The Marketing Cloud enables companies to monitor their brand and products across the Internet and analyze their sales leads.
Salesforce.com transitioned into the platform-as-a- service or PaaS category with the launch of Force.com. PaaS provides customers with tools to build their own applications rather than supplying the application already built. For example, a university might develop an application for its student body that includes campus maps, bus routes, and school events, while a clothing store can customize sale discounts and product offerings for each customer based on previous purchase patterns. By 2014, more than 4 million customers had created their own applications using the Force.com platform.
A first mover, Salesforce.com is also the market leader with 14 percent market share. The company spends 7 percent of revenues on research and development and an astonishing 53 percent on marketing to help generate leads and new customers. Cloud computing has become a competitive, rapidly evolving industry, inhabited by big players like Oracle, IBM, and Workday as well as niche companies that focus on specific industries such as health care and hospitality.
Over the years, Salesforce.com has won numerous awards for its products and services. Forbes ranked it the most innovative company in the world from 2011 to 2014. With $3 billion in sales, it has expanded into 16 different languages and has more than 100,000 customers and more than 2.1 million subscribers.
Source: Kotler Philip T., Keller Kevin Lane (2015), Marketing Management, Pearson; 15th Edition.