Today’s IDC report on the Salesforce Economy shows the tremendous impact that Salesforce has had on its partners and customers. It’s hard to believe that Salesforce is projected to create over 3 million jobs and almost $900 billion in revenue in just 5 years! Even in the manufacturing industry that Propel mainly helps with, IDC estimates that there will be over 600,000 jobs and $160 billion in new revenue.
I can personally testify to that too. Over the last 10 years, I’ve had 3 different jobs at 3 different Salesforce partners. In 2007, I was part of the AppExchange Incubator when it launched (check out the throwback photo above). And I enjoyed my experience at the Incubator so much that I joined two other Salesforce partners since then – I became the first product marketer at Apttus, and I now lead marketing at Propel, the only Product Lifecycle Management software provider built on Salesforce. It’s been a great ride watching and helping the Salesforce ecosystem grow.
How the Salesforce Economy Has Helped
Over the last 10 years, the Salesforce Economy and the AppExchange have helped the different companies I’ve worked at in a number of ways. Our CEO Ray Hein will be discussing a number of these at a Wednesday Dreamforce session, but here’s a quick summary:
- New Ways to Help Customers: the Salesforce platform makes it easier for companies to solve problems in new and unique ways. Before we started Propel, there wasn’t a lot of innovation in the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) market. Salesforce’s customer-centric approach, plus the flexibility of the platform, allows Propel to offer a new approach to PLM. PLM typically focuses on helping engineers collaborate on product designs, but Propel expands the use of PLM to help everyone, including customers, participate in the entire product lifecycle, so they can go from concept to customer. So besides helping engineers, the Salesforce platform makes it easier for us to help our customers manage product information for their sales channels and customer assets in the field.
- Increased Customer Adoption: the Salesforce platform makes it easier for customers to succeed. The system never goes down, it’s super easy to configure, and you never have to worry about upgrades. Plus a community of thousands of Salesforce gurus and help articles (and Trailheads too) make it easy for customers to find answers to their problems. And when customers have multiple Salesforce-related apps like Propel and AscentERP, they can leverage their Salesforce know-how to continually improve all their apps and decrease integration costs. We’ve had a number of customers so excited about Propel being built on the Salesforce platform, that they end up buying other Salesforce apps.
- Faster Innovation: there are countless examples of companies who’ve built great apps on the Salesforce platform in weeks or months. I’ve seen it first-hand here at Propel. Sure we have some awesome engineers at Propel, but thanks to the platform, we don’t have to worry about basic building blocks like roles and privileges, record locking, browser compatibility, mobile support, etc. It’s all included in the Salesforce platform. Instead we can focus on business functionality, and we’ve been able to build a world-class Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution in months, whereas it took years for other PLM vendors to build that same level of functionality. And when Salesforce develops new functionality like Einstein or Lightning, Propel can easily leverage it and quickly innovate.
- Higher Revenue: would you believe me if I said we got our first qualified lead just minutes after I posted our Propel listing on the AppExchange? It’s true. Back in December 2015, I clicked Submit for our listing, went out to get lunch, and when I got back 15 minutes later, we already had a lead from a multi-billion dollar electronics manufacturer! From the get go, the AppExchange has provided a big percentage of our leads. The AppExchange also makes it easier for us to build awareness with Salesforce. Many people don’t realize that the AppExchange is often the first place that Salesforce Account Executives, Sales Engineers and Customer Success Managers go to find what partner solutions are available.
My Lessons Learned in the Salesforce Economy
Even after 10 years in the Salesforce ecosystem, I continue to learn new things about how best to grow our business and help our customers. But there are some best practices that everyone in the Salesforce Economy should follow:
- Develop great relationships: this is the #1 rule for success in the Salesforce Economy. I’ve been lucky to meet many amazing people during my journey in the Salesforce ecosystem. And many of the people I met at one company have come up again at my other companies. So they may be at CodeScience today, but they may have also worked at Kenandy or Docusign before. Or they may even end up at a future customer!
- Build the economy together: the Salesforce Economy works better when multiple companies work toward a common goal. Sure, you have to worry about your own priorities, but consider how they can mesh with other companies’ goals for something even bigger and bolder. For example, I think it’s critical for Propel to highlight how Salesforce solutions can help an entire manufacturing business with sales, operations, distribution and service. So in 2016, we recruited partners like ICIX, Tavant and Rootstock to host the first ever Manufacturing Cloud Summit and showed how we all harness the power of the Salesforce platform to help customers. We’ve done this event twice now, with Salesforce now taking the lead, and it’s gotten bigger, better and bolder.
- Be patient: working with a large company like Salesforce and multiple partners can be extremely rewarding. At Propel, we’ve signed up some great customers thanks to our partners. But remember working with companies can often feel like steering a battleship. My #1 priority may be a partner’s #1007th priority. Or a partner may be busy with funding. Or getting ready for Dreamforce. That’s OK. Just be consistent and patient. Your partnerships – and definitely your timelines – may shift as you need to align priorities.
So will IDC be right about the Salesforce Economy? Based on my past experience, I’m Appy about those chances!