April 19, 2017
Metaphor: Billion Dollar Differentiator
One remarkable fact about Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, the
world's leading enterprise cloud ecosystem, is that his company was the first
dot.com to get listed on the New York Stock Exchange (2004). Today, Salesforce
is the #1 CRM company in the world and has nearly $10 billion in revenue. A less
publicized fact, however, is Benioff’s passion for metaphors.
It’s Just Like…
In his 2009 book “Behind
the Cloud,” Benioff noted how he liked to come up with simple metaphors
to help explain what Salesforce did, particularly for journalists who wrote
about his company. Salesforce was way ahead of its time. It totally
disrupted the software world by replacing costly, time-consuming, and hard
to implement software products with an easy storage and retrieval service on
the web, in what came to be known as the Cloud.
Benioff knew that whenever a new product or service emerges in the market,
it is often hard for people to grasp exactly what it is. They don’t
initially “get” it. He also knew that metaphors (or analogies) solve that
problem because by comparing the unknown to something familiar, the new
product, service, or concept becomes easily recognizable to others.
“Early on, for example,” he would say, “Salesforce.com is
Amazon.com meets Siebel systems” and then, it became, “AppExchange is the
eBay of enterprise software,” and later, “Force.com is the Windows Internet
operating system.” People in the industry recognized all these
references and could then “see” the potential in Salesforce and how
revolutionary it was.
Benioff’s Rules for Metaphor-Making
your product or service to something that is current and relevant and
that everyone understands
forget to test your metaphors before you put them out there.
few and run them by customers, analysts, and people in your network to
make sure they work
Benioff’s key point: “Creating these metaphors takes time up front but
it’s well worth it. Journalists on deadline are too pressed for time to come
up with their own metaphors, so they use the ones we supply. This further
aids our effort to remain consistent and on point with our messaging.”
Time & Focus Pay Off
This appreciation for the power of metaphor to excite and explain is carried
over to names of Salesforce
products. Sales Lightning helps reps sell faster. Salesforce
Einstein uses artificial intelligence to get results faster.
Trailblazer offers three different paths to learning Salesforce skills.
As true then, if not even more so today, Benioff wrote, “Every
experience you give a journalist or potential customer
(emphasis mine) must explain why you are different…This does not require a
large team or a big budget; it just requires your time and focus.”
How much time and focus have you given to find the metaphor or analogy that
describes your uniqueness in your universe?
Make What You Say Pay! — with Metaphors
P.S. Thank you Susan RoAne my
Mingling Maven friend, for sending me to Marc’s book.
If you like these newsletters, please share them with clients,
colleagues and friends! Thank you.
Notice how often people say things like “I don’t have the
bandwidth to process that right now” when they are overloaded
with work? Or, “He is programmed to respond that way” when
we mean someone is behaving in a predictable, controlled way? This
New York Times article is an interesting article on how the
explanatory metaphors of a given era “incorporate the devices and
spectacles of the day.”
High Stakes Metaphors: Casual? Crafted? Or Creative?
My latest post on LinkedIn explores three levels of
metaphors you can use when you need to sell, influence, persuade, or
explain anything to anyone.
Need to Craft or Create a Winning Presentation or Demo?
Call today for individual coaching or
team workshops and
learn how to turn information that tells into a story that sells. 212-876-1875
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