Salesforce partners: Please rethink your approach to events

Salesforce is a community and there is a large variety of Salesforce events running throughout the year: Connections, World Tour, Dreamin’ community events, the Partner Forum and of course – Dreamforce. When Salesforce began to pick up in the UK we saw the volume of registrations just hit the roof – but I’ve noticed a shift in the people who are going. Suddenly it seems to be fewer “doers” and more sales and business leadership going along. I make particular reference here to the partner community. I want to explore this further – why do Salesforce partners seem to be missing the point?

I’ll share some evidence with you now to back up my claim. Hundreds of people attended the Partner Forum in London, the day before Salesforce World Tour. Whilst we all piled into the keynote room that morning and our lovely colleague Jean-Michel Mougeolle tweeted the obligatory selfie, it was spotted straight away that the majority of attendees appeared to be men.

And it was….a really useful day where Salesforce took us through a high-level roadmap, we had sales, developer and consulting tracks, each containing some fabulous content to learn about. Just look at that photo though. At least the community is committed to fixing that.

Salesforce World Tour

World Tour comes every year and it’s the highlight of the year for those of us who work with Salesforce. The fabulous content, the fun, exciting new features, the freebies, the chance to catch up with friends and customers old and new – it’s an opportunity like no other to get involved with the community. There are no drawbacks; whatever you learn at World Tour – even if it’s just a conversation you had with someone on a stand at the expo – you take back to your customer.

As a partner company, you can’t really take everyone to the ball. Who would run the business? But you can promote a culture of trust by giving people a chance to say no. Networking is as important for the delivery team as it is for the sales team.

I once saw a frightening email where a COO for a partner firm chastised employees who left the office early to go to World Tour. They also chastised employees who worked from home the next day and pretty much demanded that they work extra the following week to make up for it. My initial shock turned to pity – not just for the staff involved, but for the unfortunate individual who sent the email, who was clearly missing the point. People deserve better than that. They deserve trust.

What Your Team is Missing

 

 

 

 

 

Not to mention – who are we to begrudge a bit of party time to show some appreciation and reward the team for the hard work they do throughout the year?

What could we do?

Just a few ideas:

  • Set expectations. The reason I make it to World Tour each year is that I invite and encourage my customers to come along too. You have to see the ecosystem to really believe and appreciate it.
  • Don’t make your staff take annual leave (sigh) to go to World Tour. Understand that Salesforce is more than just a technology company. It inspires people.
  • Ask for booth volunteers if you have a stand. It ensures your most engaged people are speaking to clients and prospects – because they want to be there.
  • Book meetings at World Tour. No better place to have it with a pool of experts around.
  • Got someone on your team who is struggling with a feature? Empower them. Send them to World Tour with a checklist of things to learn and have them present back what they learnt.
  • Let people work from home the day after. Adults generally take responsibility for their commitments – insisting on a full complement in the office the next day smacks of distrust and just doesn’t fit with the culture of the Salesforce ecosystem.
  • If you’ve got a load of men from your company going, could you swap one or two for a woman, perhaps?
  • If you need to define a set quota of people who can go – make it an equal mix of sales, pre-sales, management and delivery people. You could always rotate it every year or event to give everyone a chance.
  • Show your appreciation and give back to your company’s community by letting your staff have some fun.

There’s a lot to be said for making this a no-brainer. Your people vote with their feet – and the market is a niche in the UK.

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