Small Business Takeaways from Dreamforce 2017

Small Business Takeaways from Dreamforce 2017

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Small Business Takeaways from Dreamforce 2017Dreamforce 2017 took place last week, and so much went on it took me a while to process all the information shared.  It was an exciting, non-stop, four days of keynotes, sessions, press conferences, exhibitions and networking.

Much of it was focused around small business. Specifically, helping small businesses understand how CRM can help build long-lasting relationships with customers and ultimately grow their businesses.

There were a lot of great speakers, sessions and content that makes it impossible to discuss it all here.  However, below are a few highlights about Dreamforce, Salesforce, and the direction the company is going, that are helpful to small businesses.

Eye-catching Dreamforce Factoids

Dreamforce attracted more than 171K registrants and 10 million online viewers, which are some pretty incredible numbers.  During the main keynote, I was struck by a few more stats including:

Daily Usage Numbers

  • 1.4 billion emails are sent each day from Salesforce platforms.
  • 2.4 million leads, 3 million opportunities and 3 million orders are created each day.
  • 600 million commerce daily pageviews from customers using Commerce Cloud.
  • 475 million Einstein predictions are made each day.

Salesforce Stats

  • Salesforce expects to cross the $12.5B revenue mark next fiscal year.
  • More than 150,000 customers.
  • $168 million of grants have been given out by Salesforce since the company’s inception.
  • $200 million in innovation funds.

Salesforce Economy

  • By 2022, 3.3 million new jobs will be created around Salesforce’s ecosystem by 2022, according to IDC.
  • $859 billion in gross domestic partner impact by 2022, according to IDC.

One other stat mentioned during the Small Business Keynote Gear Up For Growth was that 75% of small businesses expect revenue growth next year.

Age of Intelligence Ushers in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

During the keynote Customer Success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff talked about how we are now living in the fourth industrial revolution. He labels it the Age of Intelligence.

Small Business Takeaways from Dreamforce 2017

This revolution is being fueled by developments like AI (artificial intelligence), 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT).  The outputs of growing computing power, cloud connectivity, and smart devices that can communicate with humans as well as other devices, is generating incredible amounts of data. That data that is fueling intelligence.

Benioff touched on how the Age of Intelligence is driving business customers to be treated more like consumers by the companies they buy from. With many B2C companies using intelligence and connected devices to drive more personalized experiences with customers, 80% of B2B buyers expect a B2C experience, according to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer Report from 2016.

If you’re a B2B company today, you may want to start thinking about being a B2B2C company, as technology is making it possible to directly know more about your customer’s customer.

Salesforce has invested a great deal of resources into AI through Einstein, making it available throughout all its platforms to deliver insights in pretty much all aspects of customer engagement. This includes products focused on helping small businesses, like Salesforce Essentials.

Salesforce Essentials

During Dreamforce, Salesforce announced Salesforce Essentials, a platform specifically built for small businesses new to CRM built to help them get up to speed quickly with a CRM application.

The focus of Salesforce Essentials is to provide a simplified, friendly interface that guides the user through performing important exercises with Trailhead (their learning platform) integrated right in the application.

This is really important because there are still more small business out there not using CRM than who are using it. Even if the CRM application is easy to use and has great functionality, that doesn’t translate to success if you don’t know how or why to use it.

Salesforce Essentials combines ease of use, important functionality and helpful guidance via Trailhead, which should really help small businesses new to CRM see some quick wins, and make progress right out of the gate.

Salesforce Essentials eases small businesses into leveraging AI, and knowing just how AI can help their business succeed.

As Marie Rosecrans, SVP of SMB Marketing for Salesforce, shared with me when I sat down with her, lead scoring and opportunity scoring are good areas where you can see quick benefits from Einstein:

“Oftentimes, small businesses are overwhelmed with leads, and sometimes overwhelmed with the number of opportunities that are created. You need to be able to focus on those that are most important, that have the highest likelihood to close. If you use artificial intelligence to help tell you that, it is no longer a manual process.”

Salesforce Essentials gives small businesses new to tools, guidance and fourth industrial revolution intelligence technology wrapped up into a clean, easy-to-use interface. This makes it easier for small businesses to find early success with CRM.

The New “MyForce” by Salesforce

Benioff says customers have been asking the company to give them the ability to not only use Trailhead to learn how to use Salesforce, but to allow them to use it to build their own learning programs on the platform.

This was the impetus for the announcement of MyTrailhead, which allows you to build learning programs for specific to your business using Trailhead.

Instead of earning a badge for learning how to convert a lead into an opportunity in Salesforce, you can create a program that teaches your employee how to fill out their employee review form correctly – and earn a badge for that.

In addition to MyTrailhead, Salesforce announced a number of “My” apps, including MyEinstein which offers the ability to build your own bots, prediction builders, smart fields, etc. They also announced MySalesforce, which offers the ability to build your own branded mobile apps for the Google Play and/or App Store.

These new “MyForce” apps allow you to use Salesforce platforms and templates to build your own company processes and components. The best thing is that in a number of instances, you don’t have to be a coder to take advantage of these new services. This makes these new tools even more attractive to small businesses.

GoogleForce: Salesforce and Google Partnership

During the event I attended a press conference where Salesforce announced a new strategic partnership with Google.  One of the main takeaways is a new integration of Salesforce with Google’s G Suite, enabling users to uncover insights from information traveling between Salesforce and Google applications like Gmail, Calendar, Hangouts Meet, Google Drive, Docs and Sheets.

Paul Muret, Google’s VP of Display, Video and Analytics, said during the press conference that integrating CRM data with Google Analytics data was the number one ask among GA customers.  That may explain the other big integration between Salesforce and Google Analytics, allowing sales, marketing and advertising data to be shared across Salesforce Sales Cloud, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and Google Analytics 360.

This combination of CRM data from Salesforce with web analytics data from Google should bring a whole new level of customer insights into what drives customers to make buying decisions – from web searches, ad clicks and website visits, all the through to signed deals.

Millennials and Equality Drives Business in this Revolution

Another stat that stood out to me was that 63% of the 30,000+ working for Salesforce today are millennials. By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be made up of millennials. It’s pretty clear millennials do things differently than previous generations, and are inspired and motivated in ways very different than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. They’re also more likely to value workplace equality and diversity.

Workforce development and equality is not only a big thing internally for Salesforce, they also initiated a $50 million Impact Fund aimed at helping the growth of companies using Salesforce technology to address challenges across workforce development, equality, sustainability and the social sector.

Salesforce is betting that by creating a culture that takes these ideas into consideration will attract employees that will help propel them forward during the fourth industrial revolution — where smart customers and smart devices interact with employees and partners to participate in shared experiences.

It definitely seems to be working, which is why it might make sense to put some of these practices in place for your small business.

Final Thoughts on Dreamforce 2017

With over 2700 sessions, the size and scope of Dreamforce makes it incomparable to any other business event. Dreamforce covers a whole lot of ground in many different areas for companies of all sizes. One of the growth areas of the conference is the focus on small businesses. There were well over a hundred small business-focused sessions.

The Small Business Lodge was filled with people taking advantage of one-on-one sessions with Salesforce experts in sales, marketing, service and other important business areas. The first annual Salesforce Customer Trailblazer Awards — honoring winners in the categories of innovation, growth, equality, trust and inspiration — included some interesting small business customers like ConceiveAbilities, an agency that brings together intended parents, egg donors and surrogates.

It’s true that some small businesses have questioned if Salesforce was focused on companies like theirs now that they count many large enterprises in their customer base. The 2017 Dreamforce event made it more obvious than ever that Salesforce is serious about providing small businesses with the tools, guidance, funding and inspiration they need to compete in what they are calling the fourth industrial revolution.

For more from 2017 Dreamforce, be sure to check out my conversations with Marie Rosecrans, SVP of SMB Marketing, and with Eric Bensely, Senior Director of Product Marketing, from the floor of the Dreamforce Small Business Lodge.

Image: Salesforce

This article, “Small Business Takeaways from Dreamforce 2017” was first published on Small Business Trends

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