Chapter 14When Strategy Guides Product Go-to-Market: Salesforce

Dreamforce is like the Super Bowl for SaaS. Salesforce's annual event in San Francisco brings together over 170,000 people from over 120 countries. Dozens of products get launched amid thousands of sessions with speakers as wide-ranging as Olympic champions, Michelin-star chefs, and titans of industry. It's the kind of seminal event that can instantly catapult products into massive market awareness.

But Michelle Jones decided she shouldn't launch her product there.

As the then director of product marketing for Salesforce's B2B Commerce software, she decided a much smaller Salesforce Connections conference in Chicago earlier in the year was better for her product. This decision, together with a series of many other thoughtful go-to-market actions, is how Michelle and her team propelled B2B Commerce to become one of the major drivers of growth for Salesforce at the time.

Confident and determined, Michelle began her career as an analyst at Ernst & Young and merchandise planner at the Gap. It meant she was good at understanding customers and markets. B2B Commerce's customers were companies trying to sell goods and for whom the fourth quarter ramp to the holiday buying season was their busiest. They would have no time for anything new in Dreamforce's usual fall timeframe.

Picking a launch event that worked for her product's timeline was the easy part. Michelle had to make her product worthy—among Salesforce's more than ...

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