Salesforce Dreamforce 2021: 5 Partner-Related Takeaways

‘Our plan is to double our revenue to $50 billion in the next four years,’ Salesforce channel chief Tyler Prince said during Dreamforce 2021. ‘As we scale to meet demand, the ecosystem should grow even faster. We‘ll need more consulting firms, digital agencies, experts, resellers and ISV solutions in the marketplace.’

Salesforce concluded its Dreamforce 2021 conference this week with news on Slack integrations with existing Salesforce products, new features within Slack and multiple pitches to partners on adopting Slack and making the most of the Salesforce partnership through certifications and adopting other Salesforce tools such as MuleSoft.

Company executives took time to highlight the contribution of partners to the company’s growth.

“You look at the incredible market share that Salesforce has been able to achieve, it is because of our trailblazers,” Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said during the event. “You look at the incredible business performance that we’ve been able to achieve and $26.3 billion this year in revenue, it’s because of the trailblazers and we know that.”

Salesforce channel chief Tyler Prince said during the event that partners will continue to serve a crucial role in Salesforce’s growth strategy.

“Our plan is to double our revenue to $50 billion in the next four years,” he said during Dreamforce. “As we scale to meet demand, the ecosystem should grow even faster. We‘ll need more consulting firms, digital agencies, experts, resellers and ISV solutions in the marketplace.”

Sri Ayyeppen, chief revenue officer of Plano, Texas-based Salesforce partner Argano, told CRN in an interview that customers are seeking Salesforce solutions that present the right outcomes for their business more so than any one particular tool, leading his company to invest in more learning around MuleSoft and other tools.

“Salesforce has done a good job of trying to create more industry solutions,” he said. “So as they start thinking about how do you position MuleSoft slash Tableau, the more industry outcomes or templates within that that solve a specific industry problem whether it‘s healthcare, whether it’s patient care, whether it’s distribution and logistics, all of that would start to really make more sense because that’s where the customers are buying -- pre-built templates, pre-built data sets, that could make their life very easy.”

Here’s what you need to know.

New Slack Integrations

Salesforce spent much of the event detailing some of the earliest integrations with the newest member of its product suite: Slack.

While many integrations are already available, coming later this year will be new Slack alerts around order management and ways to bring multiple coworkers into a channel to solve a problem.

Next year, Slack will add features to answer typed in business questions from users with data visualizations. In spring 2022, some of the new capabilities include Einstein Discovery in Slack for predictions and recommendations powered by artificial intelligence, Slack alerts for newly published content through Salesforce CMS and upcoming meetings and more ways to interact with clients and share and review documents in Slack.

In summer 2022, Slack will add digital deal rooms for accessing, updating and sharing records from Salesforce, alerts around deal inactivity, pipelines and upcoming deadlines as well as new abilities to create workflows and build Slack apps pulling in data from Salesforce, not to mention marketing the new features to customers in particular industries like financial services and education.

New Slack Features

Along with integrations, Salesforce announced new capabilities for Slack, its latest acquisition. Users can use Slack Clips to create and share audio, video and screen recordings within any Slack channel or direct message.

A sponsored connections feature for Slack Connect, the tool that allows for external communications through Slack, will allow users to communicate with people outside the company without asking them to pay for their own Slack plan.

And a version of Slack that runs in a government-certified cloud environment with FedRAMP High, DoD IL4 and other security and operational requirements of the federal government will launch in 2022.

“This is the next-generation Customer 360 platform,” Bret Taylor, Salesforce chief operating officer, said during the conference. “At the top you‘ve got Slack. This is your digital HQ. This is your single system of engagement that connects, not just your employees, it connects your customers, it connects your partners, your friendly neighborhood bots, all your applications, all in one single platform, no matter where you’re working.”

A Pitch To Partners On Slack

Multiple Salesforce executives pitched partners on adding Slack to its customer offerings, even giving suggestions on how to do so.

In one talk, Lynn Cohen, Salesforce senior director of independent software vendor technical evangelism, said partners can use Slack as a way to offer services to new departments within a business and create new user workflows. She gave the examples of building an app for hiring managers and job interviewers to share information, pulling in data from Salesforce. She also encouraged partners to explore new Slack badges and coursework on Salesforce’s learning platforms.

“Slack facilitates growth opportunities, and when I say opportunities, I‘m talking about deals,” Cohen said. “New logos, expansion with your current customers and cross-sell opportunities.”

Sid Murlidhar, Slack’s head of platform partnerships, said that his company has one of “the software industry‘s most dynamic and extensive partner ecosystems” and “technical and go-to-market support for all our managed partners.” He said Slack is still “very early in the journey of getting every enterprise SaaS tool integrated into Slack.”

“Our advice to partners is to focus on those use cases that require team collaboration and cross-functional coordination,” Murlidhar said. “Keep it simple. Make it easier to share content in Slack, then bring relevant notifications into Slack, and then bring those workflows right within Slack where users are collaborating together.”

Partner Advice

In another talk during Dreamforce, Jeff Amann, Salesforce’s chief customer and commercial officer of products, told partners to look into adding MuleSoft into their offerings as a way to move customers off legacy systems or integrate existing systems with Salesforce.

And more Salesforce customers are demanding services that use multiple Salesforce products, such as bringing together capabilities in Manufacturing Cloud and Service Cloud, Nia Samady, Salesforce’s vice president of cloud solution alliances, industries and architect, said in a talk.

In another talk, Virginia Matassa, Salesforce’s vice president of ISV sales, said that partners that don’t invest resources on marketing, pre-sales, sales and the Salesforce partnership can “spread themselves too thinly.” She did, however, advise partners to think about expanding internationally to grow sales, saying that Salesforce has advised partners before in breaking into new geographic markets.

“You don‘t need a team of VPs, but you really do need to have resources focused on marketing, pre-sales, sales and the partnership to really be successful in that region,” she said.

Matassa also advised partnering with ISVs and system integrators to fill in weaker areas of the partner business.

Pitching Education Resources

Nia Samady, Salesforce’s vice president of cloud solution alliances, industries and architect, encouraged partners to use Salesforce’s Navigator program to show customers credentials and validated industry expertise and Salesforce product knowledge.

Certifications such as one in business-to-business solution architecture helps customers feel comfortable hiring partners, she said.

“Partners are the ones who drive our customers‘ digital transformation -- that’s no secret,” she said. “You extend the functionality of our platform and help customers implement solutions at scale.”

Steve Lambert, Salesforce’s vice president of partner programs, experience and technology, said that by the end of this program year, all partners in all tiers will receive unlimited partner premier technical support to accelerate customer success and provide consistent implementation experiences.

“Our partners will be able to submit unlimited technical support cases, collaborate with dedicated partner support engineers with deep domain expertise and receive 24-7 issue resolution to get the expert help that they need, whenever they need it,” he said.

Salesforce’s partner program has vouchers to cover the cost of Trailhead certification exams, Lambert said. More certifications means more Navigator distinctions on AppExchange listings for ISV partners. Partners get more vouchers depending on their program tier.

ISV partners receive platform expert consultations to maximize the Salesforce footprint and to go deeper into products such as Einstein and Marketing Cloud.