The world’s maybe No. 1 CRM vendor and one of the cloud computing leaders, has launched a new program that focuses specifically on startups dubbed: Salesforce for Startups. The program was announced at Salesforce’s Dreamforce event this past October in San Francisco. The idea behind the program is to accompany startups through their customer journey from the very early stages of building apps, to the time they start to discover their first customers, and later scale and grow. To be able to do so effectively, Salesforce addresses both technical and business challenges that startups face.
While every country has different challenges, the more remote you are from your industry’s core market, challenges become less technological and more business oriented. When you are physically far away from your core market, product development tends to lead and customer development to follow. As a result, it is common to seek funding for product development before customers have shown interest, when it should actually be the other way around: Funding will fall into place once the concept is understood and voted for by early customers.
But customer development is not only a concern during the early stages of a startup, but rather throughout the life of a business regardless of the size of the company. Add to this the dimension of being remote from market and you get a rather difficult barrier to overcome because now you need to leave the four walls of your loft and start thinking how to establish sales, manage a channel, build marketing, and so on.
How does the Salesforce program help?
As part of the Salesforce for Startups program, Salesforce is conducting a series of meetup sessions to better connect business and technology elements of being a startup, such as how to attract and discover new customers, grow their customer base and measure and bring about customer success. This program can tremendously help startups in their journey, whether they are using Salesforce’s own portfolio of Apps or not. Even if you are not yet ready to build on the Salesforce1 Platform, you can attend the meetups and listen to mentors, learn about best practices, and hear from people who are living these challenges day in and day out. The idea is to spread knowledge and help startups start off equipped with what it takes to accelerate through curves of an anyhow long and winding path.
With Salesforce’s new program, entrepreneurs have access to mentors and can share their ideas with community members. Also, when entrepreneurs are ready to manage prospects and customers, Salesforce for Startups offers access to its Service and CRM products – an awesome way to show an investor that not only you have a vision, but you can also execute on it.
And when you are ready to distribute your App, you can publish it on the salesforce AppExchange, the world’s leading business app marketplace and a home to more than 2,500 pre-integrated apps that extend the power of Salesforce.
The Meetups (Past and Future)
The idea behind the meetups, as mentioned above, is to help startups bring the outside view into their statups through sessions delivered by Salesforce’s network of mentors, customers and thought leaders. Salesforce’s first session dealt with customer discovery with attendees ranging from startups with a handful of employees to $100M companies. What connects the two? Finding the right way to introduce a new product and the challenge of discovering customers differs between large and small companies but there are many similarities as they all try to build up that hockey stick that indicates potential success.
The coming meetup on December 9th (http://www.meetup.com/IGTCloud/events/206573362/) will deal with managing teams with the right structures and incentives in place. It will address questions like: How do you find your early leads?; How do you build an account plan?; What incentives do you put in place?, etc. These questions apply to a single sales manager just as much as they do to a larger sales team. Regardless of your size, you need to be able to answer these questions, all the more so when you are located in Israel, trying to win markets overseas.