Stay Proud: How Salesforce Celebrated Pride Month 2017

Salesforce showed its true (rainbow!) colors this Pride Month as members of the LGBTQ community and allies alike joined together as one big Ohana to celebrate diversity and promote #EqualityForAll.

This June was one of Salesforce’s biggest and boldest pride months to date, with record participation in events across the globe organized by Outforce, our employee resource group for allies of diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights from an awesome Pride Month.

Around the World

  • Outforce organized 37 events globally, including nine Pride marches, which gathered a total of 1800+ marchers from our extended Ohana. Many of our executives participated, as did all of our Ohana groups and some of our mascots, including Astro, SaaSy, Codey, and Einstein!

  • San Francisco hosted many special guests who joined the ranks of 600 employees, friends, and family members who came out to march, including  including singer Bebe Rexha, who performed on the parade route, mascots Astro and SaaSy, drag talent, and a team of professional dancers.

  • Outforce Chicago raised $40,000 for a local LGBTQ center, called Center on Halsted, during a Pride happy hour. They also hosted a RealTalk event to open up a dialogue about LGBTQ identity and had a great turnout at their parade.

  • Employees in Singapore celebrated Pink Dot, Singapore’s version of Pride. Citizens, all dressed in pink, gathered in a park to form a bird’s eye view of a pink dot, which symbolizes support for the LGBTQ community.

  • Dublin, in addition to marching with a fabulous float in the Dublin Pride parade, hosted notable speakers for in-office talks, including Robbie Lawlor, former Mr. Gay Ireland, and Rory O’Neill, Ireland’s foremost drag queen and gay rights activist.

  • Toronto hosted educational Pride- and Outforce-themed Lunch & Learns, threw an in-office party that featured a fundraiser, music, and drag queens, and marched in their parade alongside a float featuring mascots Codey and Einstein.

  • New York had a massive increase in marcher turnout, including plenty of support from BOLDforce, as they marched alongside a branded truck with a sound system.

Press Hits

  • Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet spoke out about equality and hosted a panel to discuss the role of business in driving equality.

  • Equality Programs Manager and Outforce pioneer Gino Ramos was recognized as one of the San Francisco Business Times’ OUTstanding voices of 2017.
  • Success Principal Agent Charles Burkard shared his experience of transitioning in the tech industry.

  • Associate Art Director Elle Cardenas shared why Pride is for everyone (yes, everyone!).

And that’s not all … we have more Pride events happening through the fall around the world, so stay tuned for more rainbow waves coming your way!

Find out more ways Salesforce is championing #EqualityForAll at salesforce.com/equality.

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10 Ways That Productive People Get More Work Done in Fewer Hours

The sunny summer months are a perfect time to increase your productivity at work without spending an exorbitant amount of time there.

In the U.S., we tend to correlate longer working hours with greater productivity and efficacy in a business.

However, spending more time at work may not really be helping us. Consider a few studies:

  • In a study of consultants, managers couldn’t distinguish “between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to” (HBR).
  • Employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours” (IZA).
  • White-collar professionals who worked 10 hours a day were 60% more likely to have heart problems than those who worked seven hours a day (UCL).

So it’s not just a matter of productivity — it’s a matter of health.

Consider these tips to get more done at work in fewer hours, so you can get out and enjoy the summertime. For more productivity ideas, check out our interactive infographic 10 Scientifically Proven Tactics to Stay Productive.

 

1. They set aside time for deep work.

 

First, understand what “deep work” means for your role. Cal Newport, author of the NYT bestseller Deep Work, explains that “deep work is what produces real value. Deep work is what allows you to improve your skills rapidly. Deep work is what allows you to produce things that are rare and valuable. And in the end, that’s really the key currency in our in our current economy. The stuff that you can do that’s really valuable and not easily replicable is the only thing that is going to move the needle.”

So, what does this look like in practice? Deep work usually means that you’re heads-down in a project that requires your utmost concentration. Set aside a block of at least 90 minutes without meetings each day so you can accomplish this all-important work.

 

2. They create a “must do” list for each day.

 

Personally, I like to start my workdays with a list of must-dos instead of to-dos. This lets me first worry about all the must-do items before I begin to tackle the “maybe today, maybe tomorrows.” My work day is often rerouted from what I thought it would be — by random meetings, semi-urgent emails, and chat messages requesting my help. So if I don’t start on the must-dos until 3 or 4 p.m., there’s no way I can finish work at a decent time.

That’s why I aim to start with only 1-2 must-dos for each day, so I’m only leaving work after I accomplish the truly necessary stuff. For those of us who also suffer from a touch of perfectionism, this also helps decrease the self-expectation of finishing a massive task list every day.

 

3. They seriously don’t multitask the important stuff.

 

By now, you probably know that multitasking isn’t really a thing. But even frequently switching tasks can hamper our productivity by 40%. Task-switching can feel like a way of life in many high-stress professional jobs (phones are ringing; chats are coming in; emails are popping off), but do your best to switch off as many tasks as you can so you can truly concentrate and make fewer mistakes.

In general, switching from task to task is only going to introduce errors into your work as you lose your train of thought. So while it may be fine to answer a quick email on your phone while you’re walking to a meeting, it’s probably not a good idea to edit an important document while talking on the phone.

 

4. They turn off Slack, text messages, email, or whatever ails them for a designated time.

 

Of course, you need to be available when your teammates need you. But that doesn’t mean you need a distracting alert popping up every time someone from the office just wants to say hey.

When you’re really angling to complete a project by a deadline (or get off work on time), turn off these distractions until you’re finished. You can always let your coworkers know the plan so they’re not surprised when you don’t immediately reply.

 

5. They hide their phones.

 

For most of us, our smartphones are always lurking nearby, providing ample distraction via Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, stock market updates, and more. Turn off the visual cue that your phone offers for distraction (“Hey, check me again!”) by simply putting it away during prime working hours.

 

6. They block off time on their calendars when they have to stop working.

 

Whether it’s putting a virtual block on your calendar for after 5:30 p.m. or scheduling a daily walk with a friend, you’ll get more done if you have an actual deadline for when a day’s work must be completed. If you let work hang into the early evening and beyond, you’ll never let your sense of urgency kick you into overdrive to complete a project.

 

7. They create external deadlines.

 

Self-imposed deadlines are better than nothing, but external deadlines are the true productivity boosters. In one MIT study, self-imposed deadlines improved performance, but people typically didn’t set their own deadlines to really push themselves. In other words, we tend to go easy on ourselves. So to truly increase your productivity, set deadlines for key projects — then tell others about those deadlines to hold you accountable. This strategy will definitely help you get those projects finished without working until 7 p.m. on a summer Friday.

 

8. They make 15- or 20-minute meetings the norm.

 

Think about how much time in meetings is wasted. Think about it: You probably have to get approval from your manager for a $500 expense… but you can call a one-hour meeting with 20 people and no one notices. Time is money, and we can often spend the first 5-10 minutes making small talk or introducing the topic because there’s no sense of urgency.

Instead, focus on making the most of everyone’s time by scheduling shorter meetings (say, 15-20 minutes) and only going longer if the subject matter truly warrants it. Attendees will get to the point more quickly once they know there’s an imminent ending.

 

9. They get meeting agendas and goals ahead of time, or else, they don’t attend.

 

A meeting without an agenda and clear goals is a meeting that’s going to take too long. If someone calls a meeting and can’t be bothered to explain what it is ahead of time so you can come prepared with ideas, it may not be worth attending.

 

10. They stop reading blog posts about productivity and get to work.

 

Of course, I’m half-joking. I’m happy to have you reading my blog post. But the more time you spend reading about productivity, the less time you’ll have to actually complete whatever it is that you need to do today. And the less time you’ll have to enjoy a beautiful summer evening. So get and stay focused, and, like Nike always reminds us, just do it.

Are you a true procrastinator? Or you’re tackling a massive project? There’s lots more productivity advice where that came from, and we all have our own working styles. Explore our interactive infographic 10 Scientifically Proven Tactics to Stay Productive for even more ideas — so you’re sure to find something that works for you.

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5 Lessons in Pitch Writing from the Winners of the Dreampitch Competition

There are many things I love about my job, but one of the most exciting aspects of running AppExchange is watching innovative new ideas evolve into businesses. And few things embody this mission (and expose the phenomenal amount of talent within our ecosystem) better than our Dreampitch competition.

So I was thrilled that we were able to bring Dreampitch to our TrailheaDX conference this year, giving three teams of finalists a chance to pitch their startup vision on the mainstage. And I was even more thrilled when we were able to secure a panel of rockstar venture capitalist judges, giving these teams a sense of what it’s really like to ask for money from experts who have heard countless ideas for new business ventures (and giving the audience a great show). If you missed all the action be sure to check out the full recording below, but after five minutes of pitching and five minutes of Q&A with the judges for each team, the judges gave their ratings. And the latest Dreampitch champion — and recipient of $50,000 in funding from Salesforce Ventures — is Digital Onboarding, a SaaS solution that helps banks onboard new customers and assist them with activating their financial services products.

I had the chance to chat with the two New England-based co-founders behind Digital Onboarding — CEO Ted Brown and CTO Jonathan Crossman — after the event (and between taking pictures with their giant, Appy-signed check). It was great to hear more about Digital Onboarding’s roots, why they changed directions a year into founding their company, and what they learned from setting out to write a prize-winning pitch — and our conversation got me thinking about some important lessons in pitch writing for hopeful startups everywhere.  

Stop talking, start listening.

The first step before you sit down to write a pitch is simple: listening. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you thoroughly understand the problem that needs to be solved (and have the knowledge required to write a resonating pitch) based solely on your own experiences. Our friends at Digital Onboarding, Ted and Jonathan, actually quit their respective jobs two years ago to start the business, but realized later that the problems they thought needed to be solved in financial services weren’t necessarily a priority in the wider industry. “So we stopped talking and started listening,” Ted said — excellent advice and critical first step to ensure you’re you’re not getting tunnel vision around your idea.

Accept that your first idea might not be your best idea.

This brings me to my next point: Don’t be afraid to completely shift direction. It’s critical to keep an open mind, be ready to swallow your pride, and admit that your initial idea may not have been the best idea. In the case of our Dreampitch winner, they totally shifted direction a year into starting the business — as Ted put it, they “kept the product but changed the messaging, changed the target audience, changed everything about the story to an entirely different pitch.” A few months later, that pitch won them $50,000 in funding. Sometimes a reevaluation and change in direction can be the secret to kickstarting the growth your business.

Never lose sight of who you’re talking to.

Never lose sight of who is listening when you’re making a pitch. Your vision can be flawless, but it also has to matter to the person hearing it. The main reason that Digital Onboarding shifted direction, as Ted Told us, was the realization that the problem they were solving “wasn’t keeping executives up at night.” So even if the problem you’re solving for, say, a sales operations manager is very real and very painful, stop and think: Are you pitching to that sales operations manager? Or are you talking to their boss’ boss? If you’re talking to the C-suite, you have to find a way to translate that problem into something that’s top-of-mind for them. Make sure that you’re hitting hard and fast on what matters most to your listener — and, of course, speaking their language.

Find people who will give you honest (challenging) feedback.

The first person to hear your pitch should never be the person you’re counting on to buy your product or provide funding. Our Digital Onboarding friends told us that they held multiple meetings with angel investors in the Boston area leading up to the event, and had already fielded all of the questions the judges ended up asking them multiple times. And, as Ted told us, “the first time I responded to those questions, I did a bad job. But you answer them again and again, and you get better at it.” Make sure you’re finding people who will give you the right kind of validation — asking you hard-hitting questions and giving you a chance to handle objections — and practicing on a number of those people before you get to the pitch that really counts.

Practice, practice, practice.

We often hear from participants in our pitch competitions that the most difficult part of the whole process is shortening their pitch to meet time constraints. However, this is one of the most important exercises you can do as a startup. When you narrow down your pitch to the bare essentials, you get to the heart of why you do what you do, and the crux of what matters to your listener. The Digital Onboarding team practiced explaining their vision to multiple investors, taking note of the moments where they hit an ‘aha’ moment with their listener (“it’s not always what you expected would be the thing that would get someone to nod their head,” Ted said) and compiling those impactful moments into a more concise pitch. Then, as Jonathan told us, the team spent hours practicing and shaving off valuable seconds wherever they could —“we didn’t want the buzzer to end our pitch”— and cutting out extraneous details. And the result was a compact and memorable pitch that told the judges exactly what they needed to know (no more, no less) to pick the winner.

 

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5 Tips to Build a Deep Connection With Any Prospect

We’ve all heard it before: “People buy from people they like.” No matter how many people believe this, it simply isn’t true. People don’t buy from people they like; they buy from people they trust and respect. If you’re trying to be your prospects’ best friend by automatically saying “yes” to whatever they ask of you, you aren’t earning respect—and you certainly aren’t closing as many sales as you could.

Instead of trying so hard to be liked, it’s time to shift your attention to building deep connections with your prospects, built on trust and respect. Check out these 5 tips to learn how:

1. Curb the enthusiasm.

All salespeople, at some point in their careers, have been told to display enthusiasm about their product. They’re told that in order to get others interested in their offering, their own enthusiasm has to shine through first. This old-school advice has resulted in all salespeople giving the same over-the-top introduction to prospects. It sounds something like this: “Hi! How are you? I’m so excited to meet you and tell you all about what my company can do for you!”

If you think you’re innocent of making this sales-y intro, try recording your next few phone calls. Does your voice become higher and louder when your prospect answers the phone? That’s the fake enthusiasm that you have to drop. Lower your voice, slow down, and be genuine in your approach. Fake excitement sounds sales-y, but a genuine tone of voice garners trust and respect.

To learn more, check out the video below:

 

2. Focus on your prospect.

This might sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many salespeople start conversations with prospects by talking about themselves, their companies, and their offerings. Before you think, “I don’t do that,” grab a pen and paper and write down your answer to this question: “Why should I do business with you?”

Now, read what you wrote. Did you talk about yourself and your offering—or did you focus solely on your prospects and how they benefit from working with you? Your prospects only care about themselves. Make them the center of your conversation, and they’ll soon feel a real connection with you.

3. Offer some value.

To set yourself apart from other salespeople and establish yourself as an expert, try offering some value right out the gate. You have a unique birds-eye-view as a salesperson, so share a few trends you’ve observed in your prospect’s sector. List a few challenges that are common among your customers—challenges you can ultimately solve. Don’t jump into your solution too quickly. This is an opportunity to share some helpful information and get your prospect talking about their own challenges.

4. Transition with a question.

After you list a few recurring challenges you’ve seen in the industry, it’s time to get the prospect talking. Try simply asking, “Do any of these challenges ring true to you?”

This approach is a little bit provocative. You’ll come out swinging, but it will immediately resonate with a prospect who is experiencing those same challenges. You may be wondering, “What if they say no?” If prospects don’t have the challenges you solve, then they simply aren’t a good fit. Let them go and move onto someone who truly needs what you have to offer.

5. Get them talking about their challenges.

You’ve offered some value, listed a few key challenges, and transitioned with a question. Now your goal is to keep your prospects talking. After all, prospects will only trust you if you can demonstrate an ability to solve their key challenges—and you can’t do that until you fully understand their deepest frustrations.

Ask probing questions that will prompt your prospect to open up about their challenges. Think of yourself as a doctor who needs to hear all of the symptoms in order to properly diagnose a disease and offer a treatment plan. By using this approach, you’ll be seen as a “doctor” or expert in the eyes of your prospect and move forward with a connection built on trust and respect.

Follow these 5 tips, and you’ll start building deep connections with customers. You’ll engage prospects in better conversations—and ultimately move those conversations to more sales. Which of these tips stands out to you? How will you use it to adjust your own approach? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Check out this free Special Report on 3 Closing Questions You MUST Ask for more powerful sales advice.

Marc Wayshak is the founder of Sales Strategy Academy, best-selling author of Game Plan Selling, and a regular contributor for Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post Business section. He holds an MBA from the University of Oxford and a BA from Harvard University.

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Content Intelligence: Like Car Navigation for Your Marketing

Artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to permeate the marketing landscape. But how do you best use it to your advantage? One exciting application is a new marketing technology called content intelligence, which utilizes artificial intelligence and big data to offer unprecedented marketing insights.

Content intelligence refers to the systems and software that transforms data into actionable insights for content strategy and tactics. Companies currently using content intelligence to power their software include: Salesforce which uses Salesforce Einstein to improve customer experiences, OneSpot which uses image recognition and natural language processing to automatically tag and categorize content and images, and Conversica which uses AI to automate the lead contact and qualification process.

Content intelligence gives marketers the full context of an individual piece of content. It helps marketers understand what the content is, what it’s related to, and how it’s performed in the past. This includes understanding how competitor content may have performed as part of the broader context it sits in.

Content intelligence technology allows you to understand everything there is to know about a piece of content. It analyzes how content has performed in the past to help predict the future and make recommendations. It may sound like a pipe dream, but when compared to the advancement of technology in other industries, it’s a natural progression. Think car navigation systems.

Maps: Spreadsheets or Nothing at All

Thirty years ago if you got lost driving in a city you would look around for street signs, consult a map, look at a grid and get a rough idea of where you were.

The information a map gives you though, is helpful but incomplete; much like using a spreadsheet for your content marketing platform. You don’t know any of the speed limits, or where there are stop lights. Forget about real-time changing conditions such as roadwork or traffic. Similarly, a spreadsheet doesn’t bring in any additional information outside of what you’ve manually plugged in, doesn’t update in real-time, and doesn’t give you input on how to move forward with your strategy.

Many content marketers are currently at the map or spreadsheet stage when it comes to content strategy. Sixty-eight percent of content marketers don’t have a documented content marketing strategy, and only eight percent of marketers consider themselves “very successful” or “extremely successful” at tracking content marketing ROI.

Part of why so many marketers don’t understand where they are is because they look at ‘vanity metrics’ such as page views or social shares. They don’t measure content lower in the funnel, or show content’s impact on your business.

GPS: Marketing Analytics Tools

Next in the evolution of car navigation came the advent of GPS, which let you pinpoint exactly where you were on your journey, although it didn’t necessarily tell you which path you needed to take.

Similarly, some marketers today go beyond a spreadsheet and connect all the dots by using technology to pull in significant quantities of data that’s hard for a human to compile, let alone compute. These companies pull data from many disparate sources and apply that to content to get a fuller understanding, manifested as analytics and reporting. 

Much like GPS did for location, they can look at a report and get a comprehensive look at where they are. They can then make an intelligent and informed decision about a course of action, which was formerly not possible. These marketers are using technology to understand where they are, but are deciding how to move forward on their own.

Car Navigation: Where Advanced Content Marketing Platforms Are At

Now Google Maps exists for drivers. This technology tells you both where you are, and how to get where you want to go. These platforms have real-time traffic data—not to mention satellite navigation such as Sirius, offering a real-time dynamic understanding of traffic flows and patterns.

As AI marketing technology advances, content marketing platforms are evolving in a similar direction to navigation systems. Analytics gives you a much more accurate picture of where you are, while AI will offer suggestions to help you get where you want to go in terms of revenue and other KPIs. (Currently, this is where marketers apply their intuition.) These suggestions could include whether or when to refresh an evergreen article, or advising whether to spend money on paid promotion for an article that’s popular and could go viral.

The Self-Driving Car: The Next Step in Content Marketing Technology

The future of AI in transportation is self-driving cars. At this stage of the technology, you not only know where you are and how to get where you want to go—AI drives you there. It’s completely automated.

Content marketing is unlikely to become completely automated by AI. The creative aspect of the job requires a certain amount of outside the box thinking. But AI will help content marketers by providing a ‘hands-free option’ that automates some parts of content creation as well.

Content intelligence software from Narrative Science can already automatically write simple stories. Persado meanwhile, uses content intelligence to create Facebook advertisements and recommend content to readers on your website. Content intelligence will soon have the power to automatically recommend which content to create, which format to create it in, and automatically promote and distribute it in an optimal way for that piece. The main reason it can’t already is because of a lack of data—which is changing fast. 

It’s easy to see why content intelligence will become an integral part of the content marketing industry over the next two to three years. It will automate the process of content measurement, prove which content is working, and streamline content strategy and ideation. Early adopters of content intelligence will enjoy a significant competitive advantage in driving leads and revenue. If you’re intrigued about what content intelligence could offer your business, read Content Intelligence: The New Frontier of Content Marketing Technology for an in-depth exploration of the subject.

Sasha Laferte is Curata’s Content Marketing Manager. She’s written for several digital marketing publications including Content Marketing Institute, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog, HubSpot’s Blog, and Young Women in Digital. Her experience spans writing content for marketing software companies to creating viral media for Wenner Media (the parent company of Rolling Stone and Us Weekly). Sasha enjoys marketing, tech, travel, fitness, sushi, and her cat. Sasha has a BA in Writing, Literature and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

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Moving from Customer Survival to Customer Success

For years, customers were often enslaved by on-premise applications that were very difficult to keep standing due to changing infrastructure, patch fixes and release upgrades. Then many of these customers were promised a seamless migration from on-premise to the cloud, only to have their hopes dashed when several of the same problems occurred, along with a few new ones. The process became more about customer survival than customer success.

Over the last two decades, the cloud emerged as an alternative to on-premise solutions and customer survival, liberating companies from acquiring and managing infrastructure, updating applications and creating data models. For Salesforce, customer success became the guiding principle at the heart of the company’s culture. Moreover, with the subscription-based business model, cloud vendors have an important incentive to ensure that customers are successful—they can more easily take their data and business to another cloud provider if they are dissatisfied with the service.

Over the last 18 years, Salesforce has led a path to the future in the CRM industry with cloud, social, mobile, Internet of Things and now artificial intelligence technologies. Today, Salesforce serves more than 150,000 companies of all sizes and across all industries, most who have moved from another CRM vendor to achieve customer success. But, it takes far more than technology to deliver customer success. Salesforce is built on a set of core elements that has led to its success:

  • Customer Success
  • Trust
  • Innovation
  • Platform
  • Ecosystem
  • Equality

Customer Success

Too many vendors place their own bottom line in front of their customer’s success, leaving customers to find success on their own. Salesforce is, and always has been, a customer success-driven company. It’s not about building technology for technology sake, it’s about delivering innovative technology that enables companies to get closer to their customers. It’s about more than 26,000 Salesforce employees focusing on customers achieving value.

Groupe Atlantic—a major HVAC player in Europe—is a new customer about to begin its trail to success. “As a platform dedicated to customer success, Salesforce will give us the opportunity to improve each customer interaction and enrich the relationships we have with them over the long term,” says Kim Vernier, Head of CRM and Business Efficiency at Within the Groupe Atlantic. “By implementing a solution that integrates the entire customer lifecycle, we will be able to increase customer satisfaction and accelerate our development. We are convinced that the new Lightning experience will be a vector of efficiency and will encourage user acceptance.”

Trust

Trust is the cornerstone of customer success. Nothing is more important than the trusted relationships Salesforce has with its customers. Salesforce’s technology delivers high levels of trust for critical factors such as performance, availability, and security. Salesforce’s point of view is that companies must be more transparent than ever with their customers about their information and they must do more to protect users’ information. This enables Salesforce customers to deliver the same level trust to their customers.

U.S. Bank—the fifth-largest commercial bank in the United States—is using Salesforce to deliver trusted, intelligent and personalized experiences for its banking customers. “At U.S. Bank, we’re committed to cultivating trust-based, meaningful relationships with the customers we serve,” said Kate Quinn, vice chairman and chief administrative officer at U.S. Bank.

Innovation

Innovation should not be measured based on vendor promises. Innovation should be measured by a proven track record of introducing and delivering relevant innovations to customers time and time again. Vendors who tend to follow often offer messaging about being innovative but cannot back it up with customers achieving business results. For example, some vendors talk about artificial intelligence, but few are actually delivering solutions that are seamlessly integrated into the business workflow. With its Einstein set of AI-powered services, Salesforce has infused AI across its CRM applications to make every customer interaction smarter and more productive without the need for an army of data scientists.

Platform

Fitting into a vendor’s pre-defined box or undertaking expensive application development is a false choice. Salesforce was founded on the principle “Make the Complex, Simple, and Make the Impossible, Possible”. In this Age of the Customer, data and connections are rich and complex and require companies to rethink how they deliver customer apps. And it’s not just about the apps themselves–companies must deliver unmatched customer experiences along with every app, and they must do so in release cycles of weeks, not months.

The Salesforce Platform offers unique advantages for building CRM applications:

  • Metadata Model
  • No Code to Low Code to Code Development Tools
  • Mobility

At its core, the Salesforce Platform has an innovative metadata model (something to this day I find many vendors struggling to get right). Simply put, who wants to deal with low-level database calls and interactions if there is no need to do so? Metadata minimizes complexity and enables benefits such as seamless upgrades and quick time to market. Interestingly, there were some vendors I found who would offer upgrade compatibility tools to validate changes before a customer upgraded. With seamless, automatic upgrades three times a year that don’t break custom code, Salesforce customers have had no need for these kind of tools.

From a development tools perspective, Salesforce customers have a complete spectrum of programming capabilities, from no-code to low-code to code, allowing them to have more flexibility and capability in building apps and business workflows. And, with Trailhead, our leading-edge learning environment, customers can explore the possibilities of how technology can improve their business and careers. It gets new customers up to speed faster and enables anyone to learn more and do more—for free.

We live in an always-on, multi-device world. Salesforce’s “mobile-first” strategy puts us in a unique position to handle both employee-facing and customer-facing mobile applications via a single, integrated platform. Because Salesforce was built from the ground up as a platform, every app has the flexibility and agility needed to keep pace with the business –something customers place premium value on.

Ecosystem

Customers understand that one vendor can’t possibly deliver all the capabilities required to achieve customer success. Salesforce also understood this and developed a diverse ecosystem of developers, partners and the AppExchange, the leading enterprise app marketplace. If anyone in the world has a good idea they can build it on Salesforce, and offer it through the AppExchange and give customers immediate access to new functionality.

But it isn’t easy to build an ecosystem—others have found out the hard way. Without cloud platform stability, tools and a focus on a specific application domain, such as CRM, it becomes an almost impossible task. I wrote about Salesforce’s ecosystem and the impact of it has had on the customer success. Ecosystems are not created equally—it becomes quickly obvious whether an ecosystem and partner community have breath of capabilities to further customer success. Salesforce’s growing ecosystem of customers and partners will contribute 1.9 million jobs and $389 billion in GDP worldwide by 2020, according to IDC. And, for every dollar Salesforce makes the company’s ecosystem will gain $4.14.

Equality

Businesses should not just serve shareholders, but all stakeholders—customers, employees, partners, the communities we live in and the environment. That means giving back to the community by donating employee time, adopting schools and helping train young people for the jobs of tomorrow. It also means supporting initiatives around equal rights, equal pay, equal opportunity, equality in education and environmental sustainability.

Salesforce’s recent research report, “The Impact of Equality and Values Driven Business” found that companies who invest in equality and lead with values—such as diversity programs and equal pay—have a competitive advantage over those who do not. The findings indicated that employees are more productive and engaged when their workplace is committed to equality and other values that promote social good. Also, customers want to work with companies that have social responsibility as part of their corporate values.

Many customers are moving from the plodding path of customer survival to an illuminated path in the cloud leading to customer success. Salesforce, guided by its core values and in partnership with its community of customers, developers and partners, will continue to pave the way for those on the journey to customer success.

 

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Salesforce a Leader in the Gartner SFA Magic Quadrant for 11th Straight Year

We at Salesforce Sales Cloud are incredibly honored to once again be named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation (SFA). And it’s far from the first time. In fact, this is the 11th straight year we’ve earned this recognition.

According to Gartner, characteristics of a leader are based on completeness of vision, ability to execute, and input coming directly from clients. In this report, Gartner recognized Salesforce as a Leader positioned highest in execution and furthest in vision for SFA.

We believe our placement in this Magic Quadrant means that we not only understand the needs of our more than 150-thousand customers, but strive to continue to meet those needs. Their success is our success.

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From Cloud to AI, Salesforce continues to lead the way

Salesforce was the first, way back in 1999, to take customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA) to the cloud. This meant that companies could access all of their customer information on a web site, from any device, anywhere in the world, 24/7. More than 18 years later, we continue to innovate and define the cloud computing space with:

1. Artificial Intelligence

We’re not only the world’s #1 CRM, we’re also now the world’s smartest. Sales Cloud Einstein is the first comprehensive AI for CRM, made of up a set of intelligent technologies that make the Salesforce Platform smarter. For example, Einstein uses the power of AI to analyze your history of lead conversions and find patterns you probably didn’t even know existed. Einstein then serves up those best leads, so your reps know which to call first to close more deals, faster.

2. Functional Capabilities

Sales Cloud truly optimizes every stage of the sales cycle. From the moment a prospect becomes a lead until cash is collected, and even beyond. Our customers can engage their customers at the right time, track their journey, get visibility into sales forecasts and team performance, and identify the best opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, from anywhere.

3. Customer Experience

As I mentioned earlier, core to our company values is customer success. And that’s why the recognition for this particular strength in Gartner Peer Insights reviews means the most to us. Customers can automate their sales processes in a way that fits their specific selling needs, thanks to the easy-to-customize power of the Salesforce Platform. And we are the only CRM that is fueled by a free online learning program.

To read the complete, complimentary Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation report, click here.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation, Tad Travis, Ilona Hansen, Julian Poulter, July 2017.

Gartner Peer Insights reviews constitute the subjective opinions of individual end users based on their own experiences, and do not represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates.

The Gartner Peer Insights Logo is a trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc., and/or its affiliates, and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc., as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Salesforce.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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Are You a Traditional Marketer or a Scientific Marketer?

Ever wonder why the failure rate of most inbound marketing experiments hovers around 97 percent? It’s because marketers rely on growth spikes from one-off successes but can’t repeat them. Unfortunately, this isn’t a game of roulette — it’s business.

Rather than base marketing on gut feelings and guesswork, embrace science. When you treat marketing like a scientific experiment, data reveals the levers you can pull to grow your company faster, driving more accurate predictions about what’s most likely to work.

A smart growth-marketing process requires a system that gets you more data than your competition has. Without one, you’re guessing in the dark on what might increase ROI.

Real-World Solutions, Real-World Success

Do I believe in scientific marketing? Absolutely. It’s a process we use all the time, and it’s helped us uncover amazing opportunities.

We recently analyzed our marketing funnel and found a win that increased our ROI by more than 150 percent. After months of optimization, we had multiple channels successfully driving traffic to our website and converting at a cost per qualified lead that was exactly in our target range.

Digging deeper into our down-funnel sales metrics, however, we noticed that only 12 percent of requests were actually booking sales demos. That meant our cost per demo booked was 10 times higher than we’d previously calculated. Recognizing a new high-impact area to test, we executed a series of email, on-site, and CRM tactics traditional marketers would never think to touch. The result? The rate at which leads booked demos increased to 35 percent.

A system of data-driven marketing can effectively solve common marketing and sales issues before they sap your revenue. You just need to ask a few questions:

1. Which customers are best for my business?

Your marketing consultants gave you customer personas — throw them out. “Professional Pam, the single 25- to 32-year-old woman working in accounting or finance in New York” is a terrible audience for digital channels.

To compete, you need hard data to determine who buys your products, and then find and target the exact audiences that fit your ideal customer profile (that nobody else is targeting!). If you honestly knew — and didn’t just assume you knew — your customers, you could effectively boost inbound sales leads and generate data.

Consider Facebook Audience Insights, an advertising tool offering customer information such as likes and dislikes, relationship status, education, net worth, behaviors, etc. Getting specific allows you to drill deeper and tap into personas your consultants never dreamed of. Facebook Lookalike Audiences can do this at scale using machine learning. No human can replicate this, even with access to all of Facebook’s data.

By systematically targeting specific customer profiles on digital channels and tracking them down the marketing funnel, you can validate which audiences drive the highest ROI.

2. Which customer behaviors indicate buying intent?

When Facebook discovered that people who added seven friends in 10 days were more likely to stay, it pinpointed actionable growth opportunities that helped it grow to 1 billion users.

You need to find your business’s “aha!” moment. Services such as Mixpanel and Amplitude can help you determine which user actions correlate with retention by tracking mobile and web application activity.

Case in point: When Calm wanted to analyze user behavior, it partnered with Amplitude to see how it could improve its meditation app features. The data showed that Calm users who were prompted to use the app’s reminder feature had the same boost in numbers as those who found it on their own. However, 40 percent of those who saw the prompt set the reminder, which meant Calm could better control user behavior and results.

Find your North Star metric like Calm and Facebook did — you can center your organization’s strategy on optimizing it.

3. How can we use science to enhance the art of our brand?

Some creative and message options work better than others; however, it’s impossible to pick winners without testing. Test across every customer touchpoint with combinations of audience, creative, message, and channel. Test different value propositions, then integrate these data-driven learnings into your brand and your offline marketing campaigns.

Get creative with your channels. Find clever ways to reach the right customers, like web scraping, less obvious likes and interests, and unique custom audience data sets. At my last startup, we launched a cold email campaign based on a Yelp scrape of bar and restaurant owners. Within two months, we had 50 venues sign contracts, thousands of pre-launch customer sign-ups, and our marketing funnel economics mapped out, leading to a $100,000 angel investment.

Optimizing the onboarding of new venues and subscribers served as a multiplier for us, making every marketing channel perform better and helping us outbid competitors on digital channels. Knowing how your customer thinks and feels, yet validating your assumptions with hard data, is a combination of art and science.

If you build a modern company with traditional marketing — ignoring the fact that fewer than one in 10 inbound marketing experiments bears fruit — you’ll starve. Adopt a scientific marketing mindset to execute ROI-driven strategy that gives you an advantage.

Everyone says data is important. The challenge is being one of the few to actually build a system that capitalizes on it. How will you do that?

Jon Brody is CEO and co-founder at Ladder, an ROI-driven company that’s a one-stop shop for growing businesses across all marketing channels and funnel stages.

 

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Blaze New Trails on The Road to Dreamforce

All the Dreamforce information you want, in a brand new format!

On our fifth season of this web series, we made some changes, but you’ll continue to see Dreamforce take shape as we discuss sessions, take you behind the scenes, give you up-to-date info, provide top tips for newcomers, and much more.

This year, instead of weekly live episodes, we will have 3 key live episodes, and will be releasing short videos every Tuesday to get you the information you want and need to get ready. These short videos will are accompanied by longer form audio podcasts, as part of our new podcast, Blazing Trails, where you can get additional, more in-depth information. Subscribe to Blazing Trails on iTunesStitcher, or Soundcloud!

Below, find this week’s newly released content – a short description, the accompanying video, and the podcast right below!

 

Admin at Dreamforce: Update #1

 

This is our first update from our friendly Salesforce Admin Evangelists – find out what’s being built at Dreamforce to help admins progress their skills and careers. On our journey to Dreamforce, expect a few more updates from the #AwesomeAdmins!

 

 

 

Equality & Dreamforce

 

Equality is a core value at Salesforce. In order for us to thrive, our entire Ohana must feel welcome, valued, and respected. Tony Prophet, Salesforce’s Chief Equality Officer is helping us all embrace this journey, and driving equality for all at this year’s Dreamforce.

 

 

 

Call for Dreamforce Speakers

 

The Call for Speakers at Dreamforce is open! Learn more, below, with Kurt Smith, and get even more information on the blog.

 

 

 

Your Road to Dreamforce Starts Here

 

Did you miss the first live episode of the Road to Dreamforce ’17? Don’t worry! Catch up on all things #DF17 with the recording below, or with our recap blog.

 

 

Want More Good Stuff? How about Blazing Trails!

 

The Blazing Trails podcast — beyond bringing you Dreamforce content — will give you a snapshot of the trailblazing stories we experience and collect at our events around the world. You will learn how to blaze new trails and map your path to the future through inspirational world-class speakers, conversations around game-changing innovations, and learning experiences that help you be your best.

We can’t wait for you to hear from Trailblazers like Billie Jean King, Patricia Arquette, Guy Standing, Jimmy Wales, Cherie Blair, and more. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, or head to Dreamforce.com/blazingtrails.

In our premier episode of Blazing Trails we are focusing on a topic near and dear to the heart of Salesforce — Equal Pay for Equal Work. At Salesforce, equality is a core value, and we’re taking action to advance equality across four key areas: equal pay, equal opportunity, equal education and equal rights.

The Salesforce World Tour hit Washington DC on April 4th. April 4th also marked Equal Pay Day — when we recognize that women on average are paid 20% less than men and how far into 2017 women need to work to earn what men were paid in 2016.

We commemorated this day by celebrating our equality Trailblazers — humanitarian and sports icon Billie Jean King, Academy Award-winner and activist Patricia Arquette, and equal pay for equal work activist Lilly Ledbetter as they joined us at our event.

 

Subscribe to Blazing Trails wherever you listen to podcasts:

iTunes

Stitcher

SoundCloud

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