Too many vendor-centric partner events can be all about me-me-me. Salesforce’s Dreamforce was all about partners and the planet we live on. Seriously, every company should aspire to follow in the footsteps of companies like Salesforce.
It’s not just another CRM player. People may not even agree that they have the best CRM platform (although they are leading the pack in growth). They may even be too pricey or too complex for most. But, when you take all things into consideration, they may be setting the success bar for not just their competitors, but for all companies.
Sure they made mistakes when they first started to build their partner ecosystem, but they have more than just caught up. In many ways they are redefining what it means to be a partner in an ecosystem. Their partners seem to be center-stage in their business model.
IDC projected that for every $1 spent on Salesforce product, it will generate $6 downstream for their partners. That’s big for partners. The other big buzz on the tech side was “Einstein”, their Artificial Intelligence. This AI should further accelerate the adoption and usability of their platform.
While I can go on to quote all of the other technological advances and data points, I wanted this article to simply talk about the spirit of the company and how they expressed it at their recent partner event.
Right from the opening keynotes, the humanity of Salesforce’s CEO, Marc Benioff and his team, set the tone for how business should be done and why it matters. From being a zero carbon footprint company to being the ripple that motivates their partners to do the same. This multiplier will make a much bigger dent than what any one company could ever do. The “salesforce economy” is truly something special as it becomes the driving force for a better planet, especially climate change. Apple also has a similar mindset as they reached beyond their company to encourage their suppliers to be more environmentally conscious and friendly.
Did you know that Marc Benioff was an intern at Apple back in 1984?
Can businesses actually do the right thing for shareholders, people and the planet, at the same time? Yes they can! Salesforce is proof of that. They live equality and inclusivity. They have an on-ramp for veterans looking for a new career. They are working with schools to get the next generation skilled up for jobs that will actually be available in the future. They are doing loads in reskilling people to fill jobs. With their marketplace, they are helping their partners to find buyers as well as train their employees to get the job done.
They are following the 17 sustainable development goals set up by the United Nations. They are not just talking the talk or doing it as a marketing stunt. This seems to be part of their DNA. Of course they are nowhere close to reaching all of their goals, but they are investing 1% of their money and 1% of their time and people to make progress. They are also reaching back to pull forward others from within their partner ecosystem to do the same. Partners like DocuSign has jumped in with both feet. A truly perfect fit as Docusign has already saved as many trees as 50% of the Amazon forest by going digital instead of paper.
They even had Barack Obama and Tim Cook share their values and insights at their conference. How cool was that! There were the typical parties, entertainment, networking and 2,700 learning sessions. All the good stuff that makes up a valuable partner event to fill the mind. However, their message of doing the right thing by giving instead of just taking and being a good business citizen of the planet also filled the soul.
Tim Cook summed it up nicely when he was asked about his purpose. As you start out as a kid, you are looking for your purpose and maybe you think you have found it when you finish whatever you studied, but then you discover that it was not. Then you get a job and you discovered that it was not. Then you get a promotion, and you discovered it was not it either. Then you get a family and so on, but at each step of the way you discovered that these “achievements” were NOT your ultimate purpose in life until one day you started to help others. Then the light bulb goes off and you finally find your purpose. Tim Cook said, “If everyone treated everyone with respect and dignity, the world would instantly be an amazing place!” Help others whenever you can. It may not earn you money, but it will give your purpose. I will also bet that you will be happier.
We are each only one person, but everyone has the power to do something to make the World a little better. Helping someone with no expectations in return is a good place to start…
I saw Marc Benioff on a popular business TV show where he was talking about being able to build a successful company and doing the right thing at the same time. What was striking was the dumbfounded look on the faces of the hosts of the show as if they were thinking “What, is he talking about…business should be all about making money and nothing else matters”. Marc Benioff stood his ground against the dark side and that was the moment that he became cool to me. He has a superpower!