Last fall at their Dreamforce event in San Francisco, Salesforce gave an outline of what it planned to do on the partnering front. Now they have provided an update and progress report, indicating where they are on what they acknowledge will be a multi-year journey.
“We are in the last two weeks of the Salesforce fiscal year, starting fiscal year 2017, and the two most important priorities for partner organization are the same as last year,” said Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, Salesforce’s Senior Vice President, Partner Programs & Marketing. “One priority is enablement, certification and training. We call it partner readiness because enablement means so many things to people. The second priority is to provide a world-class partner experience, delivering systems and automation to scale.”
“Our partner readiness goal is to have comprehensive training through a variety of delivery options, that takes into account different partner roles – sales, presales and consultant,” Taychakhoonavudh said.
“We have been working closely with Salesforce U to develop more certifications that customers can train on,” she said. “We have a couple new clouds coming – a Marketing Cloud Consultant formal certification coming out in March and April. Also in April we break down our most difficult certification – our Technical Architect – so you can obtain a number of domain specializations before taking the full one. These are the first two certifications in this timeframe. Later in the year, we will have a community cloud certification and analytics. Salesforce has seven clouds and we want to have them all covered. These will be the last two.”
Salesforce recently released two industry certifications toward the end of the last calendar year, in health and in financials.
“We will be introducing certifications for those as well,” Taychakoonavudh said. “It’s a fair amount of work because it requires development of a curriculum.”
Taychakoonavudh also indicated that the pre-sales and general product training on the public Trailhead online learning platform continues to be expanded.
“This is very engaging interactive training,” she said. “Not everyone loves self services but for those who do this is great, and these trails are a great way to get started without a certification. There is a lot of content on the platforms. Several are now out.”
Partner Fast Forward, an in-person, one-to-many classroom training for sales and presale content, which was announced at Dreamforce, has begun in select foreign markets. Taychakoonavudh called this the number one priority in readiness because of feedback from partners.
“Fast Forward is on top of Trailhead, and is for local languages or markets where self-service isn’t embraced,” Taychakoonavudh said. “Some markets don’t like self-service training, from a combination of comfort and language, and some markets we really need to be there face to face. We ran some trainings in Prague, Paris, Sao Paolo and Mexico City. The goal was to set a cadence of consistency in this training in different markets, which was not the case before. These were the first wave, where we needed the most knowledge imparted, but will be others added. We will work out a schedule to visit each city once a quarter or every other quarter, with a different theme, and we are determining that now. We also have requests from emerging markets like Tel Aviv, Dubai and Johannesburg, and we are considering how much we can afford. Probably in March we will publish a calendar that will always be six months out.”
The initiatives in the second major priority, improving the partner experience, will bear fruit later this year, Taychakoonavudh said.
“We want an improved and world class community site where we provide content and work with partners,” she stated. “This will include a business portal as well as a communications program, and we are also looking at private Trails, with gated partner content under NDA. This is something likely for the late spring, maybe May.”
Taychakoonavudh also indicated that they are also working on scaling more things.
“We are making sure we automate more pieces of the business, like how a partner places orders,” she said.
She also indicated that the sheer scope of Salesforce’s business is an obstacle to some of this work.
The Salesforce Masters program, which makes detailed partner focus and specialization available to Salesforce’s internal sales teams, is an example.
“We have been working on this Masters program, which links to a new partner finder for internal sales teams, to figure out what partner could help deploy a solution or what partner has a particular solution that a customer has asked for,” Taychakoonavudh said. “For internal productivity, we want to put this all together in a comprehensive partner finder. The scale is the challenge here, curating the content so material is as fresh as possible. It has been quite a project to get it sorted out internally because there were so many sources of data.”