Salesforce deepens partner training, specializations

New partner initiatives the company is working on include deepening technical and product training in their face-to-face training programs, and developing the concept of being trusted advisors together with partners to their joint clients.

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Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, Salesforce’s Senior Vice President, Partner Programs & Marketing

Salesforce continues to expand on the ambitious partnering initiative they laid out at their 2015 Dreamforce event. The company continues to roll out new programmatic elements, and revealed more of its roadmap looking forward, in what they have earlier acknowledged will be a multi-year effort.

“We have been busy in the first half of the year,” said Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, Salesforce’s Senior Vice President, Partner Programs & Marketing. “We ran a lot of partner events in conjunction with the Salesforce World Tour, which winds up the season in Paris in a couple weeks. We had about 500 partners show up in London, an unexpected turnout, where we expected 300 to 400.”

Taychakhoonavudh said that these events are partly about communication, and partly about enablement.

“We talk about strategy, and then in the afternoon do breakout sessions,” she said. “The breakouts are geared to both a business audience and to a more technical audience, and are for both consulting partners and ISVs.”

Taychakhoonavudh said that these kind of events are more important for partners than ever, to connect with Salesforce, since it has grown so much.

“Though these events, we have touched about 3000 partners in the last three months,” she said.

“We have made a ton of progress on training and enablement, and on certification,” Taychakhoonavudh stated. “This includes four certifications we have implemented over the last couple months, with a couple more coming. The ones we announced included a Marketing Cloud Consulting Certification, to be a consultant, and we ran a Marketing Cloud-specific event around it in April. We also had a Certification Boot Camp for partners to jump start a number who had got certifications, and we hadn’t done that before.”

The other new newly-implemented certifications include three on the path to being a technical architect – in data architecture, development lifecycle and integration.

“The current quarter, we are beta testing a community cloud certification, which should go live in July,” Taychakhoonavudh said.

“We also have a couple sub-components of our architect specializations to go live in June and July,” she added. “That includes mobile, which is very hot for us, sharing and visibility, and finally, identity and access, which is related to data security. There are nine subcomponents of the architect specialization, with two left to roll out, and these are due around Dreamforce this year. They are domain architect certifications around application architecture and system architecture.”

“Partners have said they need all the help we can give them in this area,” Taychakhoonavudh added.

Salesforce has also completed a project to identify partner specializations.

“We put together this specialization program where we look at partners’ last completed projects and award them a specialization based on experience – which is an internal finder for our internal sales force to use,” Taychakhoonavudh indicated. “We will be externalizing it later in the year through our App Exchange, although this would be for customers to pick a partner for a specific skill.”

Adapting this tool so partners can use it to find a partner with a complementary skill is on the road map, but is not close.

“I think we will get there, as far as partners using it to find each other goes,” Taychakhoonavudh said. “I don’t think it will be in the near term.”

Improved face-to-face training is one of the things that Salesforce hopes to have ready for Dreamforce at the beginning of October.

“The things partners have been asking for still come back to enablement, and in particular, more face to face options for training,” Taychakhoonavudh said. “We have an event coming to Toronto in June, which will take partners and their BDM people through the Salesforce process.”

Taychakhoonavudh indicated that both the technical and product training around face-to-face training needs to be beefed up, and that that is something they are working on.

“It’s things like showing how you do an effective demo, or what ISVs can you put into the demo to show a complete solution,” she said. “We haven’t trained those that well, so rolling this out as a consistent series is something we are developing.”

Taychakhoonavudh indicated that while Salesforce used to think that face-to-face training was most important in some non-western cultures, they have met with a strong response in western cultures as well.

“In San Francisco, we had 100 people show up from 30 different partners and they raved about it,” she said. “Its importance is accentuated outside North America, but we cannot discount its importance even in North America.”

Taychakhoonavudh noted that another thing Salesforce is working on is the whole idea of how to be a trusted advisor to clients, something that isn’t as developed a concept among their consulting partners as in other types of the partner community.

“We are developing this concept of being trusted advisors together to our joint clients,” she said.