Salesforce’s CMO explains why companies need to be ‘values-driven’ in order to keep their customers (CRM)
Category : entrepreneur
- Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is well known for his activism, taking a stand on everything from LGBTQ right to homelessness to climate change, and its apparent in every part of his company.
- Salesforce CMO Stephanie Buscemi says that the rest of the company needs to take a stand: everything from marketing to billing to customer support has to reflect the company’s values in the “good times and the bad times.”
- “For a long time it was do you have the best product or service? And the reality is…people are saying, look at, we will switch brands if we don’t believe in the core values of the company,” Buscemi said.
- She says that’s the approach Salesforce takes with Dreamforce. It is meant to exemplify the company’s culture and values. “We want, and we have diversity in our customer base and we want that reflected.” she said.
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Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff has never been shy about his beliefs. He speaks often about business being the biggest platform for change, and the responsibility businesses have in tackling social issues. As one of a new breed of activist CEO, he’s taken a stand on issues from LGBTQ rights, to homelessness, to climate change.
That outspokenness has translated into a business strategy for Salesforce, which has grown into a $143 billion cloud software company.
Stephanie Buscemi, chief marketing officer of Salesforce told Business Insider that now more than ever, a company’s brand is more than just its products and services — it’s the values that it upholds.
Buscemi said it’s the view of Salesforce that companies now can’t just be about capitalism: They have to be “values-driven” in their approach to everything from marketing to billing to customer support, and making sure those values remain apparent in the “good times and the bad times.”
“For a long time it was do you have the best product or service? And the reality is…people are saying, look at, we will switch brands if we don’t believe in the core values of the company,” Buscemi said.
She said that those values are the focus of Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce mega-conference, which will take over downtown San Francisco this week. At the event, Benioff, co-CEO Keith Block, and other top Salesforce execs will share updates on the company and its strategy. Salesforce is expecting 170,000 people to attend Dreamforce in person, with more tuning in to the event livestream, Buscemi said.
Buscemi said that the splashy event — which will feature guest appearances from speakers like President Barack Obama and “Game of Thrones” actor Emilia Clarke, as well as a Fleetwood Mac performance at the official after-party — doubles as a showcase of the company’s culture and values.
She thinks of the event as less of a traditional tech conference and more like an event that focuses on how businesses can have a positive impact, and how technology can help it happen. Prominent figures like Apple CEO Tim Cook, Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri, soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe will be on hand to talk about the intersection of social good and business. Representatives from the United Nations will also be on hand to offer an international perspective.
“We said, wait a minute, what are the top world issues and how can we inspire people to make change and contribute? We immediately went to our relationship with United Nations,” Buscemi said. “We said like we could try to create these conversations. They’re having these conversations, bring them here and get them inspire business leaders to take action and get individuals to take more action.”
She said what helps Salesforce do this is its community of so-called “trailblazers,” its term for those who are innovating and leading in their respective fields. Those trailblazers will be in attendance at Dreamforce, she said, as invited guests of the company — coming from all walks of life, from different areas around the world.
“We want, and we have, diversity in our customer base, and we want that reflected,” she said.
There’s still a lot to talk about in terms of the Salesforce platform itself, Buscemi says. The conference will highlight how Salesforce is building cutting-edge new technologies such as artificial intelligence into its products, she said, which will only underscore how far the company has come in terms of building out its products.
“So everything about Salesforce from when we started 20 years ago, it was CRM, customer relationship management…flash forward 20 years, it’s about being number one in customer relationship management and leveraging the power of the latest innovative technologies to drive better customer relationships,” Buscemi said.
Still, it appears that not everybody is convinced that Salesforce is living up to its values: Activists are planning to demonstrate at Dreamforce in protest of Salesforce’s contract with US Customs and Border patrol — an issue that also sparked a backlash from some Salesforce employees.
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