Salesforce launched in 2000 with already 200 customers pre-sold and reached $100M in revenue only 6 years after.

And that was without social media and PPC.

Here is how Marc Benioff (Salesforce’s CEO) made a lot of noise.

1/ Hijacking attention

In the early days, Salesforce had no sales team and much larger competitors.

Siebel Systems was one of those large competitors.

To get attention, Benioff staged a protest in front of the Siebel Conference.

The media present that day loved this.

Note: Salesforce’s main differentiation back then was to be sold “on the cloud” as opposed to CDs, hence the “No Software” slogan.

2/ PR

Most of Salesforce’s initial traction came from PR.

Benioff understood that early and quickly staged the story:

Salesforce will be an underdog activist company fighting giants for a just cause: “The end of software”.

Who doesn’t love a good underdog story?

3/ Extravagant events

Benioff knew how to throw note-worthy eccentric events.

The 2000 product launch event featured a whole area representing Enterprise Software, “Hell", with screaming salespeople actors in cages and whack-a-mole games where the moles were competitors.

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Vator, 2017:
Techcrunch, 2019:
Qualified, 2021:
SaleforceBen, 2021: