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Vanguard Ecosystem Leadership: The Highly Successful Evolution of Salesforce’s Partnering Practices

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Salesforce’s vanguard leadership has been exemplary when building strong partnering ecosystems. As a rainmaker in the API economy, the company designed the largest technology ecosystem and most active cloud marketplace. Leslie Tom, senior vice president of AppExchange marketing and programs, has played a significant role in that transformation. In her session “API Economy: Salesforce AppExchange Partner Ecosystem” at the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum, “Reimaging Part­nering in a Disruptive World,” on October 17, at the Four Points by Sheraton, San Jose Airport, San Jose, California, she plans to share strategy and insight on how to build and benefit from a strong partnering ecosystem, and the invaluable role alliance managers play in fostering a healthy ecosystem.

“Our alliance managers at Salesforce are different than at other tech companies,” Tom began the interview. “They are involved throughout the entire process of recruiting partners to build solutions, onboarding partners, and working with partners on their go-to-market for business growth. They are building customer success from day one. Our alliance managers are critical to the success of the partners, [and we are] all focused on the joint success of our customers. When partners come into our ecosystem, the sole focus really is on partner and customer success. We have a saying at Salesforce to our partners: ‘When you succeed, we succeed.’”

In late 2005, Tom joined Salesforce and started recruiting partners for the AppExchange. The AppExchange was launched in 2006. From the beginning, Salesforce had “partner account managers” that acted like alliance managers, she explained. During the past 12 years, the company developed a much larger team that is now “100 percent focused on partners, their success and joint customer success.” Salesforce’s alliance managers work with one to many partners, depending on the company size and revenue opportunity. One of the company’s newest partners, Nokia, underwent a transformation similar to what many larger Fortune 500 companies are now trying to create—new revenue channels through partnerships, she continued. The former phone maker transformed to serve communications service providers, governments, and consumers.  Nokia created Nokia Intelligent Care Assistant solution on the AppExchange to provide holistic view of the customer to drive fast solutions to customer care issues.

The AppExchange—the #1 enterprise cloud marketplace—also goes by another name: AppExchange, the Salesforce Store. “We refer to AppExchange as the Salesforce Store because it offers much more than apps,” she said. “In today’s customer-driven world, we have apps, components, bots, data sets, and more. In 2006, we were more of an app directory where customers could find Salesforce extensions. Today, the AppExchange offers intelligent recommendations, personalized engagement and guided learning paths to help our customers find the right solutions faster. We have more than 5,000 solutions and more than 6,000,000 installs on the AppExchange.”

Other app marketplaces offer a one-to-one exchange, such as if you download an app for your phone, she explained about the difference. “On the AppExchange, one solution can be deployed to thousands of users; it’s not a one-to-one exchange. In fact, 88 percent of all of our customers are using AppExchange solutions and 89 percent of the Fortune 100 use AppExchange solutions. What is also unique about the AppExchange is that we think about it like Amazon in terms of customer reviews and ratings. If you go to AppExchange.com, there are over 80,000 customer reviews with star ratings, so our customers can look at multiple solutions, evaluate on peer reviews, and find the right fit for their business challenges.”

She then returned to the central theme of the session and reiterated the most important point: building a strong partner ecosystem focused on the success of your customers. “If your focus is on customer success, your partners and your company will be successful together. That is how we work with our alliance managers—to ensure that our partners are focused on customer success.”

Stay tuned for more of the ASAP Media team’s coverage of the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum on the ASAP Blog at www.strategic-alliances.org. Learn more about the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum at http://asaptechforum.org

Tags:  alliance managers  Amazon  API Economy  AppExchange  ASAP Tech Partner Forum  customers  ecosystem  Leslie Tom  partners  Salesforce  solution  transformation 

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