Salesforce becomes a 'success from anywhere' company with record year

Julia La Roche
·Correspondent
·5 min read

Salesforce (CRM) is becoming a "success from anywhere, success from everywhere" company during the unprecedented adoption of digital and changing nature of work.

"I would say that we are in a world still that we're creating in the future. We know the past is behind us, and the future is definitely ahead, and it's going to be a new work environment," Benioff told Yahoo Finance on Thursday after the software giant reported record quarterly and full-year results.

To be sure, a new work environment doesn't mean having just one location. Earlier this month, Salesforce's Chief People Officer Brent Hyder wrote that the "workspace is no longer limited to a desk" in the company's office towers and that the "9-to-5 workday is dead."

Most Salesforce employees opt for a "flex" way of working in which they spend 1-3 days in an office for team collaboration or customer meetings and presentations. Benioff also works from the office and home.

"I'm not just going to be in my home. In fact, in the last month, I've actually been in Singapore. I've been with my employees there. Yesterday, I was actually at the top of Salesforce Tower here in San Francisco. And I plan to get back into the work environment and into my office and back with my customers. But I also know I'll probably be working at home as well. I've developed a lot of new skills," he added.

Salesforce has seen its business accelerate during the coronavirus pandemic that ushered in an all-digital, work-from-anywhere world. On Thursday, the software-as-a-service giant reported stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter results. Earnings per share came in at $1.04, outpacing estimates for 75 cents. Revenue for the quarter came in at $5.82 billion ahead of forecasts of $5.68 billion.

Salesforce delivered full-year fiscal 2021 revenue of $21.25 billion, up 24% year-over-year, and a new record. The customer resource management (CRM) provider expects full-year fiscal 2022 revenue to be in a range of $25.65 to $25.75 billion. Shares of Salesforce fell 4% on Friday on the slower pace of growth.

"We're quite confident in delivering more than $25.5 billion in revenue. The reason why, of course, is we were operating off a deferred revenue model, that is you know all the contracts that we signed this year we haven't recognized the revenue until we're actually delivering the service, and so that flows very nicely into this year, and also the years to come," Benioff told Yahoo Finance. He previously shared that Salesforce's long-term revenue target for fiscal 2026 is $50 billion, double what the company is doing now.

Photo by: zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 12/15/20 Businesses and industry in Manhattan, New York City on December 15, 2020 during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. While many of the larger corporations have managed to navigate the financial storm caused by the pandemic, other retailers have struggled to stay in business. Here, The Salesforce Tower offices in Midtown. (NYC)
Photo by: zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 12/15/20 Businesses and industry in Manhattan, New York City on December 15, 2020 during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. While many of the larger corporations have managed to navigate the financial storm caused by the pandemic, other retailers have struggled to stay in business. Here, The Salesforce Tower offices in Midtown. (NYC)

When the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, resulting in lockdowns and remote work, Salesforce had to tear up its old business plan and adapt.

"We devised a whole new business operating model for how we run Salesforce and how we would succeed from anywhere. We called that our 'pandemic operating model,'" Benioff told analysts on the earnings call, which was hosted outside in San Francisco with the leadership team socially-distanced.

Benioff noted that the company has become "significantly more strategic and more relevant to our customers than probably any time before." The company has also deployed new products such as Work.com to help companies and organizations reopen safely and Vaccine Cloud to aid in vaccination logistics.

"This has been a year where we're all fighting the pandemic, and that is a huge part of what we're working on every single day," Benioff said.

Benioff said the new work environment that's emerged is one of "success from everywhere, success from anywhere," with the need to work, sell, market, and service from anywhere.

Benioff told analysts that he's "been surprised" by how many sales calls they've been able to make. He added that if he could "rewind history over the last 22 years," he would have "enforced a much more significant digital discipline" from its sales organization.

In a world where in-person events, like its 170,000-person Dreamforce, go virtual, Benioff said the digital capability allows them to build a pipeline and direct access and deliver highly-customized selling at a velocity that wasn't previously thought possible.

"I think that when we look back at all of the time and energy we spent physically getting on airplanes, getting in cars, going to people's offices, having a breakfast or a lunch or a dinner, waiting to try to get up and make a C-level sales call, when you look today at the level of access that you have in organizations to conduct B2B sales, I mean, it's all the capability when you're digitally enabled, you can go anywhere just much, much faster," Benioff said.

Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.