Listen to Mike’s episode and Meredith’s episode of the AppChat Podcast. And be sure to subscribe on iTunes to stay up-to-date on the latest episodes!
**Please note that quotes have been lightly edited to improve readability.**
CodeScience CEO, Brian Walsh, recently hosted Mike Wolff, SVP of Global ISV Partners at Salesforce, and Meredith Schmidt, EVP & GM Salesforce Essentials & SMB at Salesforce, on the latest episodes of the AppChat Podcast to discuss their experiences serving different sectors of Salesforce’s growing customer base — industries and SMBs.
We break down the key points from each episode and share how Salesforce is expanding their ecosystem.
Building Out the AppExchange for Industries
When Salesforce hired Keith Block as co-CEO, industries became a big focus for Salesforce, and this focus was echoed in the AppExchange partner keynote at Dreamforce this year. While Salesforce is focusing on seven core industries (Financial Services, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Retail and CPG, Government, Transportation and Hospitality, and Media & Communications), the focus is really on understanding their customers. Mike Wolff, SVP of Global ISV Partners at Salesforce, focuses on these industries and cultivates the partnerships to help grow.
When asked about industries, he explains that his focus isn’t on the industry approach, rather understanding their customer. “I just think of how we speak in the language of our customers. And that’s where we think of white space asking: How can we help? What are the areas that Salesforce needs to invest in to help build out a better story there and tell a more relevant story? Who are the partners that we want to collaborate with that have already found a product-market fit in these areas? How do we identify a joint challenge that we can mutually solve better than anyone else?”
When asked about Salesforce’s growth, Mike said, “I’m constantly asked the question when I’m sitting down with partners, where does the AppExchange stand as a priority at Salesforce? This is highly important to us as a company when we think of growing a robust ecosystem, number one. Number two, helping us fill white space from an industry perspective. And number three, the power of successful partners is a multiplier effect. It’s an accelerant in terms of helping build credibility and helping us help our customers in many different ways. That’s very exciting.”
Mike started at Salesforce in 2002 when they only had 150 employees. Flashforward to today when they have over 33,000 and one would assume that the culture has undergone a significant shift due to the rapid growth — but this isn’t the case. They sill operate as an entrepreneurial business. But how do they maintain this culture of entrepreneurialism at scale?
“From day one, Salesforce has leveraged its alignment mechanism called the V2MOM,” says Mike, “and for those of you who don’t know, that’s the alignment tool that we use at Salesforce. Every employee has one, and what V2MOM stands for is, what is our Vision? What are our Values? The first M is, what are our Methods? How are we going to accomplish that vision? The O is for Obstacles, and the M is for Metrics. How are we going to know we are where we’re trying to go? That’s literally been the tool that we’ve used at Salesforce to help keep everyone aligned, and more importantly to prioritize what is and what isn’t important. I feel like that’s helped keep us nimble over the years and helped focus us as an organization as we’ve grown.”
Using the V2MOM tool, employees are easily aligned with everyone in the organization and understand their goals.
“Everyone can see everyone’s V2MOM, and it’s actually been a tool that I use when I’m talking to partners or customers in my prior role,” Mike continues, “I find it’s a great way to help organize a company’s thoughts, and help get everyone aligned and accountable for what we’re trying to mutually accomplish. So it’s not only an internal tool; it’s a tool that I like to use whenever I’m talking to a partner today or customers in my prior life.”
Salesforce Runs on Salesforce
Before Meredith was the EVP & GM Salesforce Essentials & SMB at Salesforce, her position was EVP Global Revenue Operations. She started the revenue operations team at Salesforce and built the products and processes Salesforce needed to function as a business — she is one of the reasons why Salesforce runs on Salesforce.
“That was really the fun part. I’ve been building products on the Salesforce platform from day one. And thinking about new product introduction.” Says Meredith.
This experience as a product leader and her in-depth knowledge of the internal business processes and solutions for Salesforce makes her uniquely qualified to spearhead the Essentials team and pioneer this new line of business.
Salesforce is Focusing on a New Line of Business
With the introduction of the Salesforce Essentials product about a year ago, Salesforce showed a visible addition to their go-to-market other than what they were traditionally known for. Salesforce started with the goal of building software that was easy to use and available to everybody. As they evolved into an enterprise company, their features and platform also moved in an enterprise direction.
However, more than one-third of their customers are made up by small businesses today. Salesforce recognizes that the needs of their SMB customers are different — both in function and go-to-market. To make sure that their products are easy to use and accessible for SMBs, they introduced Salesforce Essentials — a product that has all of Salesforce’s sales and service functionality for the price of $25 a user a month. SMBs that don’t have large sales or IT teams can leverage the same platform and infrastructure to grow their business — something that used only to be available to large organizations.
Essentials users will benefit from the continual innovation across the Sales and Services clouds by having access to the same new features being rolled out in other editions. Salesforce invests hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D every year, and those innovations across Sales, Service, and other clouds is for all customers from the enterprise to SMB users on the Essentials version.
Meredith notes that Essentials is more than a product, however, “It’s a business unit. It’s about small business and the community we have around it.” Meredith goes on to explain it more, “Start your company with us and grow with us, and we’ll help you grow. We’ll help you be a successful business. So yes, we can make some money. But it’s actually about creating the community around the small business and helping them thrive as a small business owner with all the resources we have. Not just technology, but what are best practices we can share with them? From marketing and who are the partners we use to really help lift up these customers.”
The Partner Ecosystem and SMBs
The partner ecosystem will play a key role in being able to support all of the SMBs that utilize Salesforce. A Head of Business Development was recently hired to work with the dedicated team to help identify who the core partners are and what gaps exist in the ecosystem that can be filled with new partners.
Partners are entering the ecosystem with products specifically geared to scale with SMBs as their businesses grow. SMBs can stick with the same partners and key features that allowed them to scale so rapidly. There is no need to switch to another platform once you hit a certain size.
“These partners are really seeing the value that we don’t want to send you to another small CRM vendor,” Meredith says. “We want our customers to be using the number one platform. So when they grow, they know this platform grows with them. They’re not going to be having to advise their customer, ‘Now you should move to Salesforce and here’s the cost of switching.’ We have a low-entry cost to getting started with us. And again, we’re working on all sorts of new packaging and pricing to make the upgrades easier.”
Meredith goes into even more depth, explaining the value Essentials provides to SMBs, “When I think about the role of our business unit, it’s not just about selling our own product. It’s about helping these business owners realize there’s technology out there that is so simple and easy to use, when you use it combined with Salesforce, we can do the job for you.”
There is no question that the Salesforce ecosystem will continue to grow. With a unique position and focus to simultaneously help enterprises and SMBs thrive, there is now more opportunity than ever for partners to join.
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