Tips & Tricks for Going to Market with Salesforce
Salesforce represents one of the largest partner ecosystems today, boasting nearly 6,000 logos including consulting partners and ISVs. With such a large ecosystem, it’s important to approach a Salesforce partnership the right way.
Yeva Roberts is a self-described marketing behaviorist who is part creative, part strategist, part technologist, and believes in using her powers for good. Over the last decade, Yeva has parlayed her client experience to lead alliances for Salesforce ISVs like Standard Register, PFL, and Yotpo. Most recently, Yeva joined AllCoud to lead the North America alliances with Salesforce and AWS. Today, Yeva joins us to share insights from her experience managing Salesforce alliances.
Why partner with Salesforce?
There are a few key reasons why joining the AppExchange Program can be attractive. Yeva highlighted three:
Speed up time to market by being able to get up and running quickly with Salesforce.
Gain access to an expansive install base. Salesforce supports over 150,000 customers globally, with a large percentage of customers using at least one app from AppExchange.
Enable upmarket movement. Yeva shared, “Working in the enterprise space is all about vendor consolidation and not having an integration to Salesforce is often a deal-breaker.”
What are the signs you should partner with Salesforce?
Depending on the maturity of your ISV solution and business model, the signs to partner can vary. However, Yeva shared that for most ISVs, the origin story is very organic and typically falls under one of three common scenarios.
The first driver is customer demand. You may have customers who share their requirements during the sales process. As your sales team starts to identify that need, it leads naturally to thinking more strongly about a Salesforce integration.
Next is about unique value. Perhaps the standalone solution you have does a really nice job solving for a product gap in Salesforce — this may also be the domain or industry expertise you have that Salesforce doesn’t. Yeva shared an example from a previous role, “For example, Yotpo has strong domain expertise in e-commerce marketing for retail/consumer goods, specifically with digital native brands which compliments Salesforce nicely.”
Finally, there is competitive pressure. In the same sales process, you may hear about a competitor creating a unique offering with Salesforce that you haven’t thought about. If this continues to come up in the sales process, this can trigger a need to partner in order to stay current with industry standards and customer expectations.
What go-to-market strategies are important for partnering with Salesforce?
There are three main pillars Yeva shared for being successful with Salesforce: be an expert, be proactive, and a resource.
First, Yeva highlighted the expansive partner ecosystem and how you can stand out by establishing yourself as an expert. “There’s a lot of noise. Instead of boiling the ocean, you want to narrow your focus with a specific product vertical or industry to gain initial traction and build meaningful relationships with the right Salesforce teams. How do you become an expert that's relevant right now? It starts with not just understanding your ICP, but leading with it and being able to communicate clearly the unique value you bring to Salesforce.”
Outside of being an expert on your unique value, you need to connect the dots with Salesforce. “Being an expert also means that you need to be able to clearly communicate and speak in the Salesforce language. Understanding how you solve for specific use cases or personas and being able to deliver that pitch in their language will position you as an expert in a specific domain and in Salesforce.”
Next, being proactive is something many Salesforce teams appreciate. “First, bring win stories. The more customer wins you can distribute and get great PR behind, the better. Second is enablement. You need to get in front of the solutions engineering teams to build credibility with the sales teams — give them access to your demo environment and make it easy to add your solution to their environment. Last is revenue. The more you can uncover new revenue for them or opportunities that allow you to accelerate, enlarge a deal, or decrease risk, the more they’ll trust you and proactively bring you into deals as well.”
The final pillar Yeva highlighted is being a resource. "As a former practitioner, I understand how marketers think. This allows me to be more consultative on potential plays with sales teams selling to marketers, uncover unique value propositions, and partner closely with Salesforce product and marketing teams. I always start off by asking, ‘What are your KPIs? How can I help you? How can I bring you value?’. It’s important to be a resource and think holistically about driving that value across Product, Marketing, and Sales teams.”
Who is the best person to manage a Salesforce partnership?
Like many other partnerships roles, it’s beneficial for an individual to have experience in a variety of functions. “In this role, you're going to find yourself highly matrixed. It's important to have a strong business acumen and experience having worked with a lot of different departments across the business — not just the sales team, as an example.”
Having a strategic mindset among other soft skills are also crucial. “An entrepreneurial spirit and ability to build long-term relationships is important — those individuals are more apt at playing the long game and uncovering win-win business opportunities. Salesforce is a mammoth. Having experience navigating an enterprise organization is another big one. Being humble and genuinely curious goes a long way. More tactically, I'm always eager to entertain the idea of hiring product marketers for this role.”
What are common ISV mistakes when partnering with Salesforce?
Going back to the signs of why you should create a partnership, it's important to start by embracing the idea that the Salesforce ecosystem isn't just about pipeline growth. “It's about entering new markets and expanding your competitive advantage. You have to be a change agent to understand why all these things matter when choosing this ecosystem.”
Yeva shared that the biggest mistake she sees partners make is not going in with a counter-intuitive perspective. “Don't think. ‘We will build this app, and people will come.’. Just because you built it and signed a strategic partnership agreement with Salesforce doesn't mean there's a guarantee you will be successful. You still have to invest to market and sell it.”
Advance Your Organization with a Salesforce Partnership
First and foremost, create goodwill. Take time to listen thoroughly and be curious about how you can add value to Salesforce teams and your champions. From there, be prepared to play the long game when selling with Salesforce. Having a strong and dedicated alliance leader or team focused on Salesforce is often what it takes to win and keep winning.
Finally, don’t be afraid to go off-script. Be respectful but relentless — in Yeva’s words, “If you can’t get through the front door, the back door, the side door, the dog door, go down the chimney!”
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