[CJP Insights] To sell, they literally hijacked an airport

Often, while prospecting for clients for a newly set-up business, we literally feel like banging our head against the wall. There is so much resistance to change, the incumbent competition has dominated mind-space of clients. I face the same challenge for the Recruitment practice at CAJobPortal.com. These are fairly well entrenched competitive spaces. We ask ourselves. that in the midst of all this competition, how does one make inroads into the consumer’s memory

I was reading this book: “Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry” and realised that I had to do something completely disruptive – from a marketing standpoint.

The battle for the CRM market waged between Siebel and Salesforce was epic. And it is hilarious how he pulled attention from the Salesforce’s main competitor — Siebel Systems (bought by Oracle in 2005)


Siebel’s European User Week was being held in Cannes, France. Most visitors access by flying into Nice and taking an airport taxi to Cannes

Salesforce rented all the taxis. They decorated the vehicles with NO SOFTWARE logos and filled them with their marketing brochures.

The executives, though they complained initially, eventually, they had no choice but to take those cabs

Salesforce then used the 45-minute drive, which they provided for free, as an opportunity to pitch for their service.

The CEO of Salesforce writes in the book – We succeeded because we caught our competitor by complete surprise. (This was another tactic I learned from The Art of War, in which Sun Tzu advises, “appear at places where he must rush to defend, and rush to places where he least expects.”)

When anyone thought about Siebel, he or she also thought about salesforce.com. The reality was that we were still the gnat on the back of an elephant, but our unusual tactics were making that elephant dance.

Isn’t this an amazing example of how you can compel your customer to notice you

This customer could be internal as well, say your boss or your organisation’s system

What are your thoughts?