Salesforce new partner initiatives include sharing more tools, methodologies

As the role of partners in the Salesforce ecosystem continues to grow, the company has announced multiple new enablement initiatives for them.

Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, Salesforce’s senior vice president of partner programs

SAN FRANCISCO — Partner presence at Salesforce’s Dreamforce event here is greater than ever before. The company stressed that partners are ever more critical to Salesforce’s success going forward. They also announced new support for partners, including Partner accelerators, and the sharing of Salesforce’s internal Compass methodology.

“Our partners are so critical to the success of our company and our customers’ success,” said Keith Block, Vice Chairman, President and COO at Salesforce, in the consulting partner keynote. Block noted that while Chapter One in the Salesforce story was getting to a billion dollars in sales, Chapter Two —  getting to $10 billion – was something that they achieved this year.

“Chapter Three will be $20 billion,” Block said.

He also indicated that after he joined Salesforce in 2013, Salesforce put three key strategic initiatives in place that had really catapulted their growth forward.

“One was an emphasis on being able to speak the language of the client,” he said. “The second was international expansion. We made huge investments there. The third was to have the largest ecosystem in the cloud – consulting partners and ISVs. You brought us from $4 billion to $10 billion and will bring us from $10 billion to $20 billion.”

Tyler Prince, executive VP of worldwide alliances and channels at Salesforce, reviewed the updated numbers from IDC on the value of the Salesforce ecosystem. They project that by 2022, the ecosystem will be creating $859 billion in new revenues — up from their original projection of $389 billion in 2020. That will also create 3.3 million new jobs.

“In addition, for every dollar of Salesforce revenue, almost $5.20 will be created for the ecosystem,” Prince told the keynote. “About two-thirds of that is services you provide to your customers.”

“Partners have been key to our success from the start – whether by developing industry accelerators for the Fullforce program, four years ago — or adopting six new certifications early this year, or even learning Trailhead badges at an unbelievable clip, you have been on that rocket ride with us,” said Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, Salesforce’s senior vice president of partner programs.

Taychakhoonavudh addressed Salesforce’s efforts to scale up the ecosystem’s resources.

“The Voice of the Partner survey that we recently ran indicated that you are excited about innovation, but also a little anxious about keeping up,” she told the keynote. “You are also concerned about how you can grow your own resources to meet customer demand.”

One purely U.S.-focused initiative here around workforce development is the hiring of Vetforce military veterans. There is now a Trail for that, and the program will be live in the U.S. early next year.

“We are also working on a Trailhead for students program,” Taychakhoonavudh added. “A talent hub is coming to connect new and recent grads with potential employers, and it will be live at the beginning of the year.”

Another request in the Voice of the Partner survey revolved around training the new grads.

“You wanted more enablement here,” Taychakhoonavudh said. “We have all roads leading to Trailhead. The university certification team is now part of our Trailhead team in one global learning Ohana. It will preserve your investments in certifications and acknowledge your investment in Trailhead. So next year, in the Consulting Partner program, Trailhead badges and points will be accounted for. That will also be the case for ISVs.”

Taychakhoonavudh said the survey also indicated that partners want Salesforce to see them more face-to-face in the field.

“In Q1, we will have a new enablement tour on building a practice lifecycle,” she said. “You also wanted more content on new areas like CPQ, Commerce Cloud and DMP [Data Management Platform], and we are working on that as well.”

Taychakhoonavudh referred to very good results at a marketing cloud summit in Indianapolis a couple months ago in its bringing of products and partners closer together.

“Our product team shared roadmaps and listened to partner feedback, both good and bad,” she said. “There was an amazing level of transparency and openness we hadn’t seen before. We want to continue this two-way communication for our platform and all of our other clouds.”

Salesforce is also working on adding Partner Accelerators into the partner program. Salesforce has offered Customer Accelerators for the last couple of years, and now they are being extended to partners. They are one-to-one discussions with Salesforce specialists on solving complex problems to ramp up and get value quickly.

“Partners sometimes struggle in statement of work areas like how to accommodate large data volumes without degradation,” Taychakhoonavudh told ChannelBuzz. “An accelerator will sit down with the partner, typically over the phone, and go through the configurations to provide assistance.”

Taychakhoonavudh indicated that Salesforce is presently figuring out the operational nuances of how this will work, and how much support different levels of partners will be entitled to.

“We haven’t finalized those numbers yet,” she said. “However, we will, and will roll this out to partners in February.”

Last year Salesforce announced Lightning Bolt templates, a new framework for deploying next generation communities and portals faster.

“It has been a great year for Lightning Bolt,” said Mike Micucci, SVP and GM, Communities at Salesforce. “We launched Lightning Bolt last year with 12 partners and 14 Bolt solutions, and we now have 50 solutions all over the globe.”

The idea here was speeding up customer time-to-market. Lightning Bolts are packaged, templated solutions that partners can brand. Salesforce started it around Community Cloud and have now extended it to the other core clouds.

“Now we are also adding Lightning Flows, which lets you embed business processes and flows,” Taychakhoonavudh said. An example would be a call centre process flow to guide new agents.

“That would be a very regimented playbook that changes by industry and persona,” Taychakhoonavudh indicated. “Partners can package these up and distribute them themselves, or they can put them on the AppExchange.” The store on the AppExchange for Bolts launched on October 24.

Finally, Salesforce is announcing the launch of their Compass methodology into the partner community.

“This is a distillation of what we have been doing informally in Salesforce for our customer success teams,” Taychakhoonavudh said. “It is different from Lightning Bolts because they are not specifically focused on products. An example would be if a customer wants to be able to establish and measure success from a new process given to retail associates.

“It’s a Salesforce approach for understanding methodology,” said Dan Smoot Executive Vice President, Global Partner Sales at Salesforce, in the keynote. “It’s a blueprint or an execution plan, taking our Compass methodology and handing all that content to you,” he said, to applause from the audience. “It’s about sharing the same experiences we do with our customers to solve problems, and reimagine customer success.”