Dreamforce 2017: Annual Sales Convention Sees a Return to Humanist Roots

As we wind down from Dreamforce 2017, Salesforce’s Tech, Sales, & Marketing Conference that seems more like an annual annexation of San Francisco’s financial district, it’s important that we reflect on the intense wealth of information that has been bestowed upon us.

While being bombarded by contacts, knowledge, and networks, it can be hard to figure out what’s up, what’s down, and what’s really happening in the future of Sales, Marketing, and B2B entrepreneurship.

We distilled a couple of the most impacting visions that permeated the convention this year:

The Value of Bridging the Gap between Sales and Marketing Teams

One of the issues that was repeatedly addressed was the parallel development of Sales and Marketing teams as separate entities in B2B companies. The growing gap between these two fields often results in a sort of “hand-off” mentality in the workplace of “I did my job, now they need to do theirs,” rather than a group mentality focusing on the cohesive goals between sales and marketing.

In an auxiliary talk with Sales Hacker, panelist Patrice Green touched on the “bandwidth issue” in Marketing, that due to the implementation of AI and Auto DemandGen resources, there is the misconception that Marketing doesn’t require the same monetary and human resources that it once did.

However, despite attitudes relishing in Salesforce’s new implementation of their Einstein AI tools, panelist Matt Heinz argued that “technology isn’t a strategy,” and that the most effective way to create alignment between Sales and Marketing branches is to appeal to the human element.

Marketing has been developing into an incredibly scientific field over the past few decades, and as sort of a reaction, Marketing Leads and successful entrepreneurs are swinging the field back into a frontline job.

We don’t need to be told that alignment between Sales and Marketing improves overall performance, but rather how to create this cohesion.

It seems simple, and perhaps insane, to think of inviting your Marketing leads to your Sales meetings, or keeping both parties in the loop of both Sales goals and Marketing campaign schedules, and to create joint strategies, but that’s where many businesses find their ailments.

While we’re getting very, very excited with AI marketing tools, successful leaders are calling us out on the effervescent and enduring necessity for Marketing and Sales alignment.

The Necessity and Benefits of Diversity

An interesting and typically abstract notion that found its way to Dreamforce this year was the topic of diversity. Talks didn’t just focus on the social benefits of diversity, but rather the literal, hard data that proves the necessity and effectiveness of diversity in a company.

Dreamforce talks addressed everything from the effectiveness of decision-making to the literal investment liability of sexual harassment lawsuits. Julia Boorstin, Snr Media & Entertainment Correspondent to CNBC, led a panel titled Gender Gap: Facts, Fictions, And Calls To Action, With The World Economic Forum which addresses the unfortunate and startling fact that this is the first year in two decades that the Gender Gap has widened according to research performed by the World Economic Forum.

In this panel, World Economic Forum representative and Chair, Saadia Zahidi concisely breaks down the Global Gender Gap Report 2017, provides succinct evidence, patterns, lines of action regarding the gender gap, and addresses why the United States has consistently dropped in ranking in the past decade.

On the other hand, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has historically focused on gender equality in administrative roles, including altering the pay practices of acquired companies to be more fair and urging fellow CEOs to put forth effort into closing the pay gap.

Saleforce’s internal reviews of gender and pay equality found that the source of the gap wasn’t in the wages themselves, but rather that under promotion was the most pervasive contributor to the gender wage gap.

So while Benioff and the world’s biggest B2B software company work to confront inequality, he is acting as an exemplar CEO for investors and employees alike.

Humanism in a Tech Prolific Workplace

In a panel focusing on hiring practices, high-level interviewing, and retaining employees, our panelists spoke on the necessity of autonomy and transparency between management levels.

When asked about how to assure that new hires have the capability to live up to their expectations, Gong CEO & Co-founder Amit Bendov commented that companies hire Salespeople based off of “what they produce, not how they produce it… When you hire people on this module, it can result in failure.”

Bendov, along with Jennifer Brandenburg, VP of Inside Sales at ServiceMax emphasised the necessity of person to person training when introducing new members of your team. Brandenburg delineates that “we do research on the internet, but we learn from people right in front of us.” Both of these leaders find that their success ultimately comes from satisfying the person at the heart of their problem.

The beautiful thing that I always see with Dreamforce is, that despite being a finance and tech centric conference, it always leaves a distinctly humanist feeling behind.

Salesforce, I think because of it’s notoriety as a hard data platform, consistently reminds its constituents that at the heart of all data is a human being.

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