From its inception, Salesforce, the cloud computing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) company, took a radically different approach to selling enterprise software than competitors such as Oracle and SAP. Rather than sell large software packages that often required years of work to customize and integrate, Salesforce sold licenses for more easily customized access to cloud-based solutions.
In the late 2000s, Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, put forth an agenda to penetrate further into the large-scale enterprise market. This required some rethinking of the sales process the company was using. Thus, Ignite, a customer-focused, design-led organization that executes a pre-sales process with large customers, was born. The case follows the early evolution of the Ignite organization, outlining the challenges associated with convincing both the internal sales organization and Salesforce customers of the potential opportunities design-led innovation might make available to them.