Anne Miller — Words Matter Make What You Say Pay!
Presentation & Sales Specialist
Author | Speaker | Coach
Words Matter – Make What You Say Pay!


Metaphor Minute: Metaphor - The Billion Dollar Differentiator


April 19, 2017

Metaphor: Billion Dollar Differentiator

One remarkable fact about Marc Benioff, CEO of, the world's leading enterprise cloud ecosystem, is that his company was the first 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, “ is meets Siebel systems” and then, it became, “AppExchange is the eBay of enterprise software,” and later, “ 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

  • Relate your product or service to something that is current and relevant and that everyone understands

  • Don’t forget to test your metaphors before you put them out there.

  • Try a 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?

Anne Miller
Make What You Say Pay! — with Metaphors

P.S. Thank you Susan RoAne my Mingling Maven friend, for sending me to Marc’s book.

Random Recommendations
Level Up
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?
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"Anne and I recently worked together on a speech I gave at a large conference. She helped me turn a series of somewhat interesting points into an expertly crafted, compelling and actionable story. Together, we built a storyline with attention-grabbing headlines. We worked and re-worked the language, making sure every word was important. Finally, Anne coached me on the delivery. The result was so exciting - I've never been so well received in a speech before. Thank you, Anne!" Kate Griffin, Vice President,

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Links I Like:

Great Resources:

"The best arguments
dazzle with metaphor"

Gerry Spence,
Media Commentator & Lawyer

The Original “Metaphorically Selling” that spawned a movement, now with 25 New Stories.  Available in print, ebook & (new) audiobook formats.
Click here

7 Signs You Need A Metaphor (Visual Language)

  1. Your listener is not paying attention
  2. Your listener is stuck on an objection
  3. Your listener is confused
  4. Your listener sees no difference between you and your competition
  5. You want to drive home a point vividly and memorably
  6. You have to wiggle out of a difficult situation
  7. You want to wow or motivate a larger audience

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 "The Metaphor Minute" is a brief monthly note with examples from business, media, or politics that illustrate the power of metaphors and analogies to make a point, solve a problem, and get results. Use these stories to stimulate high pay-off metaphoric thinking in your business. © 2017. Anne Miller. -- PERMISSION TO REPRINT -- Feel free to reprint in company newsletters or articles. Just include ©2017, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling,"
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