Get to Know the Salesforce Way of Selling

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • List some important methodologies for selling on the Salesforce platform.
  • Explain how you can learn about Salesforce's product portfolio.
  • Describe the roles and motivations on a Salesforce sales team.

The Salesforce Culture

Partners take the best things about the Salesforce platform, package them into polished apps that solve specific business problems, and deliver them to customers. Partners make a Salesforce sales team’s job easier by connecting the platform’s benefits to real business use cases.

As a partner, you deal with Salesforce directly on behalf of your customers. And you also represent Salesforce to these customers. So knowing the company culture is one of your responsibilities.

Fortunately, Salesforce provides you with lots of information about how we communicate with customers and within the company. The most important thing to know is that Salesforce, its partners, and its customers are all part of one family, the Salesforce Ohana.

As members of the Salesforce Ohana, we help one another achieve our individual and collective goals. Everyone’s success contributes to the Ohana, so we celebrate the victories of every member. Everyone is a resource for everyone else.

How We Say It

At Salesforce, we communicate with a distinct style that aligns closely with our branding guidelines. Our 45-page guidebook is a comprehensive resource for advice and instruction. We also have these handy interactive resources:

  • The Salesforce blog is a great place to look at how we communicate with customers and prospects.
  • Our Dreamforce videos are jam-packed with examples of certified messages.
  • Hey there, friend! The Trailhead style is another excellent example of the friendly, informal way that Salesforce communicates.

Pick a few posts, videos, or trails to explore, and pay attention to how they convey their messages. All of the content shares a voice and a style that is conversational, direct, and concise.

How We Show It

There’s a reason a picture is worth a thousand words. Often you can convey a lot more information from an image than from text. Use visual elements wherever possible to put ideas into heads.

Two women: One thinking about words, frowning; the other, thinking about                 pictures, smiling.

Pictures and visuals help even more when you’re presenting to an audience. These days, you’re competing with phones and streamed movies for people’s attention. Fill your slides with images and animations, and engage your audience with your own words.

If you do put simple text on your slides, don’t read it—paraphrase it or let everyone read it themselves.

Go Beyond the Sales Cloud

A person in a Salesforce Trailblazer jacket, surrounded by 8 icons                representing community, marketing, service, sales, commerce,                analytics, apps, and IoT.

This slide shows how partners can use the Salesforce platform to effectively solve customer business problems. Get comfortable with the Salesforce product portfolio. If you know how your offerings fit into the bigger picture, you can send a message that resonates with the overall Salesforce strategy.

Of course, our catalog of products is huge—understanding the whole thing is easier said than done. How do you gather all of this information? Where do you start? You can’t just go to AppExchange and thumb through everything there.

Start with your own product and move outward. If you have apps or components that integrate with the Salesforce platform, find out what else touches that part of the platform, and see whether it can be used with your offering. The more dots you connect to your product, the easier it is for a Salesforce sales team to recommend your solution.

While you expand your product’s horizons, try to create your own big picture. Track news on the Salesforce blog and partner blogs, and pay attention to upcoming events to get an idea of where Salesforce is going. Chat with people in the Salesforce Partner Community about what they think is the next big direction.

And take stock of what Salesforce communicates to its customers. Browse, attend Dreamforce or a World Tour, and watch our highlight video each quarter. If you hear a lot about specific products like Lightning and Tableau CRM, make sure you learn all you can about them.

Be Platform Proud

Don’t assume that everyone at Salesforce already knows how awesome you are. Show the Salesforce sales teams how your product makes Salesforce even better. Many junior representatives don’t have direct experience with partners. If you set a good example for them, you make them your allies.

Help the sales team see how things fit together by using their language.

  • Performance at scale—Your product meets the needs of large customers because it’s built on top of a rock-solid platform.
  • Enterprise compliance—All of your product’s ingredients were made for enterprise computing.
  • Automatic upgrades—Software as a service means upgrades happen seamlessly, without disrupting customer business.
  • Unbreakable customizations—Your product’s extensions to the platform are also seamless. Everything just feels right.
  • Multitenant infrastructure—You get the architecture of the platform for free, with all of its benefits.
  • Trusted security—Salesforce works hard to earn the trust of its customers, and you make the same promise to protect their data.

Work these points into your messaging. It shows a sales team that you’ve done your homework, and it gives them materials they can pitch to customers.

Meet the Sales Team

The members of the Salesforce sales team have their own personal goals and motivations. You can win them over if you know what makes them tick. If you figure out how to put your goals in terms of theirs, you can convince them to work with you.

A woman taking a selfie next to a big Dreamforce sign.

Let’s take a look at the different roles on a Salesforce field sales team.

Account Executives

Account executives, also known as AEs, work to increase Salesforce’s Annual Contract Value (ACV) by closing deals and winning new business. Their goal is to build trust with customers in their territory and advise them on how to better meet their goals. Account executives carry annual quotas of US$1.3 million, so they care a lot about closing deals.

Sales Engineers

As the technical experts on their teams, sales engineers get into the details. They work with customers to understand specifically how Salesforce can help with unmet needs and pain points.

Sales engineers love dependable products that make things run smoothly. They track product updates and technology road maps closely to assess practical impacts on customers. They are happiest when customers see good outcomes.

Customer Success Manager

Team members in this role focus on what happens after the deal closes: It’s their job to make sure customers get what they want, and to keep them happy during an implementation. To do this, customer success managers have to understand customer goals as well as their customers. They develop strategies—or “blueprints”—to help customers work effectively, and they manage support issues to keep everyone happy.

Customer success managers pay especially close attention to two things:

  • Adoption of the platform
  • Customer satisfaction with Salesforce, as measured by a customer satisfaction (CSAT) score.

To a customer success manager, a partner is an ally who helps with both of these things.

Here’s a table that summarizes these roles.

Role Responsibilities Prioritizes Defines Success As
Account executive Grows ACV
Gains customer trust
Advocates for change
Closing deals quickly
Surpassing quotas (more than US$1.3 million annually)
Knowing territory
New business
Solution sales
Customer retention
Sales engineer Analyzes customer data needs
Identifies pain points
Suggests Salesforce solutions
Dependable products
Product updates and technology road maps
Integration capabilities and requirements
Successful customer outcomes
Expertise in AppExchange apps and Salesforce products
Customer success manager Increases platform adoption
Understands customer goals
Plans and executes success strategies
Manages and escalates support issues
Reduces risk of customer attrition
How partners bring customers to the platform
How partners can fix “red account” issues
High CSAT score
Qualified opportunities
Increased product adoption
Good renewal numbers

Make friends on the sales team by showing them how they can benefit from your collaboration. Remind them that you’re all interested in the same things:

  • More deals
  • Bigger deals
  • Faster closing times
  • Lower risk of customer attrition

Keep these things in mind, and you can keep the sales team’s attention. Then help the team find their biggest pain points, and you are well on your way to becoming indispensable.

Now you have a picture of the people and the culture at Salesforce. Next let’s focus on how you discuss your product with them.


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Source: Trailblazer Community Impact Survey 2019