Dreamforce 2017 Wrap-Up

November 2017 marked my second opportunity to attend Dreamforce, and while not quite as astonishing as my first visit, the event was still incredible. At 170,000 people, it’s hard to imagine the size and scope until you’re actually there, live and in person.

It still amazes me to see how smoothly everything runs and how every last detail is considered. From having human-carried, portable coffee dispensers to help attendees shake off the jetlag first thing Monday morning to assistants stationed across the city to the ease of the registration process — Salesforce has really nailed it!

No longer a Dreamforce virgin, this past November, I implemented some important lessons learned during my inaugural trip. For instance, last year I loaded up my schedule with so many sessions that I had very little time to explore anything else. The experience was still great, but I did feel like I missed out a bit. This year I pared down my schedule and spent more time exploring the Admin Meadow, visiting vendors, and actually talking to people — imagine that!

That said, I still ended up with 11 sessions on my plate, though three of those were focused one-on-one meetings with Salesforce and another vendor. My main goal centered around learning about features my company can use in the near term (Lightning for Outlook, Service Cloud, Assets, Opportunity Paths, etc.), while also expanding my knowledge more broadly by diving into topics like data management, better integrating sales and marketing, and CPQ for the future.

All in all, I’d have to give the event two thumbs up, and I’m definitely looking forward to another round in 2018!

A recap of sessions visited

  1. Dreamforce VIP Experience: Advice from a Serial Entrepreneur (Mark Cuban)
  2. Vendor Session: Internet Creations
  3. Admin Meadow: Visual Workflow
  4. Admin Meadow: Salesforce Lightning for Outlook
  5. Improve Data Management for SMB
  6. Transforming Revenue Ops: Make Salesforce Your Revenue Engagement Platform
  7. Sales Metrics: Identify the Numbers That Actually Drive Growth
  8. Vendor Session: Salesforce – 1st Meeting
  9. Calling a Truce: Aligning Your Sales and Marketing Teams
  10. How Salesforce Uses Service Cloud
  11. Vendor Session: Salesforce – 2nd Meeting

Dreamforce 2017 session ratings

God, I’m such a nerd, but here are my ratings for the various sessions and meetings I attended. I did a little better than last year, and that was bolstered by the fact that I had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with a couple of our vendors to talk through solutions to current and upcoming projects.

If you’re headed to Dreamforce at some point, be sure to include that one-on-one time as part of your agenda. While the high level talks and product demos are helpful, it’s even better to come back armed with actual solutions to your organization’s current challenges. Plus, some quick wins will demonstrate the ROI of Dreamforce since your employer likely sent you out to San Francisco and they’re wondering if the trip was worth it. It is, of course, but you have to show them why.

Key takeaways

Below, I’ve consolidated most of my notes, highlighting four main takeaways from Dreamforce 2017, but there’s also much more where that came from. If you’re up for nerding out hard core, you can download a PDF file of all my session notes from this year’s event. Enjoy!

And now to recap…

Entrepreneurs and employees

While in SF, I managed to grab breakfast with my good buddy, Mark Cuban. Kidding! I don’t know him, but I did manage to grab a front-row seat at an intimate breakfast interview to kick off the week. During the interview, Mark shared a number of great insights around life, entrepreneurship, and success.

  • Mark Cuban on entrepreneurship and employees
    • Mark’s key characteristics to look for in an entrepreneur are:
      • Culture
      • Vision
      • Ability to execute
    • Culture is knowing where you want to go and connecting with your employees to get there.
    • Overrated characteristics of people/companies: Amount of money raised.
      • In Mark’s words, raising money is not an accomplishment and doesn’t matter. It’s an anchor that leads you to pleasing people and doing things that won’t necessarily benefit or grow your business. You want to hold on to ownership.
    • Being nice is underrated. You can show empathy and still be in control and not get taken advantage of.
    • Look for people who reduce stress. These are the folks who are calm, laid back, and get work done. They are the people you want to keep around. On the flip side, people who are always frazzled, aka “energy vampires,” create stress and sap energy away from you and others. They are a drain on your business. Avoid them at all costs.

Data management

Data management is key for companies who have implemented a CRM since clean, usable data is one of the main factors that drives user adoption.

  • The data gap creates real costs for organizations:
    • 20% of data is useless
    • 90% of data is incomplete
    • 21% of data is dead
    • 15% of data is duplicates
  • Four steps for effective data management:
    • Identify the focus area
    • Evaluate your data needs
    • Assess, plan, execute
    • Monitor and maintain
  • Track changes made to your org so you have a running log of decisions made, why, who, etc. This info can be logged in a number of ways: Excel, Jira, Guru, SFDC Cases, or any other project management tool that integrates with Salesforce.
  • When making changes to your Salesforce org, set a metric for how you’ll measure the impact of changes made. Be sure to measure and document.
  • Use reports and dashboards to measure key data quality metrics and ensure adoption.
  • As a small company, it’s key to learn lessons from enterprise orgs. Instead of making changes on the fly in production, have a system in place for making changes in a sandbox, testing, pushing change sets to production, etc. Smaller companies move quicker so you can adjust to shorter sprints, but you shouldn’t sacrifice having a change management process built out.

Sales metrics that actually drive growth

Jason Jordan, author of Cracking the Sales Management Code, gave this presentation and imparted a good bit of wisdom on the overflowing room of attendees, advocating heavily for tracking and managing sales reps at the activity level. Now there’s certainly a lot of debate as to whether or not that’s the best approach or if it leans too far into micromanagement, but Jason makes a good argument for honing in on the most granular aspect of selling in order to drive the results that organizations truly care about but can’t directly manage.

  • The ability to report data has easily outpaced our ability to use that data.
  • CRM has created a massive culture of inspection, and as a result, a system of compliance and anxiety. In addition, the use of CRM has created a false sense of control.
  • Key question: How should management use all that data?
    • Answer: To improve the data.
  • When looking at data and metrics, we should focus on this key question: Can we manage this? Too often, the answer is no.
    • Business Results – Organization outcomes that can’t be managed directly (revenue, market share, etc.).
    • Sales Objectives – Can be influenced if given consent (customer retention, new/existing product, etc.).
    • Sales Activities – Can be managed directly (sales calls, coaching, etc.).
      • Cause-and-effect: The activities you do lead to your sales and business results.
      • Managing activities is the only thing you can truly control.
  • Reverse engineer your way to success
    • Once you know the business results you’re after, you can select and quantify the best objectives that will drive those results.
    • Then focus on managing activities relentlessly. This will free you up from talking about results like revenue, quota attainment, and customer satisfaction and will instead focus conversations around the underlying activities that lead to those outcomes. Studies also show that having a clear task is the most motivating thing for salespeople, not money. Giving sales reps targets for activities creates a much more tangible goal than simply telling them a quota target they’re expected to hit.

 Service Cloud optimization

  • Improving the Service Cloud experience for internal and external customers
    • Understanding some of the key Service Cloud components
      • Entitlements – Help you determine if your customers are eligible for support so you can create support records like cases or work orders for them.
      • Milestones – Represent required, time-dependent steps in your support process like first response or case resolution times. Milestones are added to entitlement processes to ensure agents resolve support records correctly and on time. They’re useful for SLA tracking.
      • Macros – Automate a series of repetitive keystrokes that support agents make in the Salesforce Console for Service. Agents can then quickly complete repetitive tasks, such as updating the case status, by running a macro.
  • How Salesforce uses Service Cloud for their own customers
    • Salesforce’s service delivery goals:
      • Enhance customer ROI via excellent customer service
      • Deliver cost-effectively and at scale
      • Have the ability to measure performance
      • Create a happy, productive workforce
    • Salesforce’s keys to success
      • SLAs and tiered support
      • Multiple channels for customers to engage with Salesforce:
        • Customer portal
        • Live agent chat
        • Communities
        • Social
        • Phone (text)
      • Skills-based case routing
      • Agent console and live agent chat
        • Provides a 360 degree view of the customer
        • Solutions are proactively shown to agents
        • Case feeds allow for collaboration
        • Case milestones can be used to track SLAs
        • CTI (computer telephony integration)
      • Einstein analytics to measure performance and drive operational excellence
    • According to Salesforce, self-service via portals is rapidly surpassing other support communication channels like phone and email. As a company, Salesforce saw a 50x growth rate in the use of self-service portals over the last 4 years. For effective self-service, here are their four key ingredients:
      • Customer portal
      • Communities
      • Knowledge
      • Suggested solutions when users create a case in the customer portal

Like I said, the week was packed full with all kinds of great lessons. I’m still working on digesting it all and figuring out how to apply everything I’ve learned. And of course, that journey is never ending. Nearly a couple months later, reading through my notes and the bullet points above continues to shed light on new topics to explore or sparks an idea for one of my many projects. Here’s to the process of continuous learning and improvement!

Did you get a chance to attend Dreamforce this year? If so, what was your favorite part? Any tips you’d like to share? Shoot me a note in the comments!

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