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Salesforce's Patterson blazes a trail for humble-braggers everywhere

UK & I shindig has everything: Olympians, Bake-Off stars, and the ever-rising former BT boss

Gavin Patterson got his break in marketing by heading up Procter & Gamble’s promotion of its Pantene line of shampoos and conditioners and, just like his voluminous glossy hair, the Salesforce president’s proclivity for self-promotion has never really lost its shine.

It was on display for all to see at the Salesforce Live UK & Ireland online event. With hosts including TV personality and former judger of cakes Sue Perkins, and ivory-tinkler-for-hire Jools Holland, the event was dubbed Success Anywhere for users of the omnipresent $21bn-annual-revenue SaaSy CRM provider.

Trailblazers, as those users are called in Salesforce-speak, and Patterson were here to make sure that this exclusive group of 11 million people understood who is most important in the room. The trick to self-promotion, according to the G-Patz playbook, is convincing the audience they are worthy of his gratitude.

With a humility that comes easily to a man who reportedly pocketed $16.1m in total compensation at Salesforce this year, Patterson said: "Trailblazers, today is all about you. So more than anything else, I want to say thank you. Thank you for everything you've done. Over the last 12 months, you've had to innovate, you've helped each other," he said.

The oleaginous chisel-jawed Brit joined Salesforce in September 2019, having left his position as BT chief executive in January of that year, although he continued to receive a total of £1m in pay and pension until October. He joined Salesforce as chairman for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, but six months after joining his performance was such that he merited promotion to president and CEO of Salesforce International. By May 2020, he was president and chief revenue officer.

He used the opportunity afforded by Success Anywhere to reflect on how businesses had been affected by a pandemic that had ripped through the heart of the economy while Salesforce suffered annual revenue growth of 20 per cent.

"A lot has changed. But one thing hasn't. We always ask 'how do we harness business as a platform for change?' And for us, this means prioritising customers, partners, employees, communities, of course, our planet today. And every day we put our stakeholders first," Patterson said.

Salesforce has, of course, never been shy in splashing its abundant cash about. It has handed out small business grants during the pandemic for example, and this week announced $1m in donations to help students in "underserved communities."

Among other acts of partnership announced by Salesforce at this week's event was a deal with British Olympics Team GB, with the objective of launching "marketing programmes that will bring fans and Team GB closer together than ever before." The deal would run from the delayed Tokyo Games starting in a few weeks' time, to the Los Angeles 2028 games.

Six-time Olympic cycling champion Sir Chris Hoy even put in an appearance to tell the audience what it meant to be part of Team GB.

Patterson will no doubt be aware of the much-regurgitated cliché that there is no I in team, but at the back of his mind no doubt lurks Michael Jordan's famous rejoinder: there is one in win. ®

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