One of the biggest names in software-as-a-service, Salesforce isn’t typically the first vendor that comes to mind when the SMB channel thinks of cloud partnering opportunities. At last week’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, the company’s senior vice president of partner programs, Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, spoke with ChannelPro about what VARs and MSPs can get from the Salesforce Partner Community, as well as that program’s latest offerings and future priorities. This is an edited excerpt of that conversation.
ChannelPro: Our readers are mostly solution providers, service providers, and integrators for the SMB space. What business opportunities do they gain access to by joining the Salesforce Partner Community?
Taychakhoonavudh: Well, Salesforce has the largest cloud ecosystem of partners. So we have partners who deliver services, who help our customers get up and running and optimized on the Salesforce solutions. We also have partners who develop solutions on our platform, commonly known as ISVs, who really develop natively on our platform and then release that product in that way. So those are the two biggest partner types.
What we’ve seen on the services side…is just a huge growth in demand for Salesforce expertise, and that expertise helps our common clients get up and running and get the value out of…much more than kind of old school CRM, which is, you know, sales forecasting and contact management [and] pipeline and funnel management. It’s now extended into kind of the multichannel world we live in, where you’re talking [the Salesforce] Marketing Cloud, you’re talking analytics, you’re talking [the Salesforce] Service Cloud when you’re responding to your customer’s issues. And all that makes the offering much more comprehensive, and we need partners to help us get that implemented right.
ChannelPro: Do your partners earn margin on Salesforce licensing, or are consulting fees the main way they can benefit from their relationship with you?
Taychakhoonavudh: The latter, consulting fees are the main way. This is not true of every single region around the world, but it is true of the U.S.
ChannelPro: Does Salesforce have a lead generation program for its consulting partners?
Taychakhoonavudh: We actually have our sales teams work very closely with local partners. So, for example, we have alliance teams who are aligned to our sales teams. So if we were talking, say, Florida or Texas, we’ve got a local sales team who sell into that state and then we have an alliance go-to-market manager who aligns with that sales team and that regional sales presence.
So as the sales team look at their pipeline and they see what’s coming, they see growth in, maybe…Houston versus Dallas. Our alliance go to market person helps asses that and then works with partners to help fulfill that demand. So it could be just directing projects to partners, but it could also be recognizing that we have a gap in skills, and then going to recruit partners to help fill that gap.