Dear SaaStr: Why is Marc Benioff Complaining About Worker Productivity?

Because it’s an issue most of us are grappling with right now.

Most startups and bigger tech companies are struggling with the ramifications of what happened in hiring from mid-2020 to early 2022:

  • Almost everyone dramatically increased hiring
  • The hiring bar was often lowered (hard to say aloud, but often true)
  • Compensation also went way up

This had the net effect that almost everyone in tech ended up with 50% more headcount than they needed going into 2023, often paid 20%-30% more than before … and importantly, in sales, it often got “worse” / harder, with lower attainment as selling got harder.

Benioff said 50% of the AEs close 95% of the business, but it’s tougher than that, since it’s biased toward more tenured employees.  Newer employees are struggling now to close anything.  It’s challenging to know what to do there when the organization is too bloated.

So who knows, maybe he shouldn’t have said this on Slack.  Maybe he was too direct and transparent. I make this “mistake” myself.  He didn’t say any of this publically, but he did say it to the whole company.  He might have been expressing too much frustration in an attempt to be transparent. It’s a “mistake” a lot of CEOs make.

But it’s a situation almost everyone is in, to some extent.  Marc just said it aloud, more or less.  And pretty directly.


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