From One-Way Communication to Stakeholder Engagement

By Amy Rose | August 24, 2021 | | Education, Nonprofit

You’ve likely heard this before — trust is our number one value, and constantly top of mind, at Salesforce. There is nothing more important than the trust of our customers, and that includes our partners! Fostering trust with our partners is crucial to how we can best serve nonprofits and schools together, and since my tenure at Salesforce.org began back in 2015, we’ve implemented a number of initiatives to continue developing deeper trust and alignment with our partner ecosystem.

In my first year, we launched an informal Partner Advisory Council — a forum where partners across our community could share feedback directly with us and influence the way we developed products and engaged with customers. This inaugural gathering was also held at our very first Salesforce.org Partner Summit in 2016, but was followed several times per year whenever we had the opportunity to gather with partners from all disciplines.

Woman speaking to people seated around a table
The first formal Salesforce.org Partner Advisory Board meeting in February 2020, where partners and staff came together to identify the main areas to focus our work.

While the feedback and conversations were highly productive and valuable, the challenge we still faced was that the informality meant that we did not have:

  1. Agreed upon goals and outcomes with partners
  2. Metrics to gauge our mutual successes or areas for improvement
  3. Transparency around what was happening with the feedback they were providing
  4. Engaged stakeholders on all sides committed to driving those mutually agreed-upon outcomes

Then, as we were all wrapping up 2019, we recognized an opportunity to reassess how we were engaging with partners and crystallize a strategy for engagement that drove action. We needed to improve trust and transparency, and we wanted to continue our investment in collaboration with our partners as they bring the expertise of working hands-on with nonprofits and schools across the board. Partnership goes both ways — all sides need to be engaged and committed to mutual success. A partner ecosystem isn’t flat or one-sided, so how could we best engage with a representation of partners that could work on behalf of an entire ecosystem?

Now, in its second (formal) year, the Salesforce.org Partner Advisory Board is bringing together 110 consulting partner members and more than 20 Salesforce.org stakeholders from around the globe. These partners will serve as part of a cohesive group of committees working towards agreed-upon outcomes that directly affect our products, roadmap, new solutions, customer success, how we drive equity, and even the Salesforce.org Partner Network itself.

The Board serves as a platform for partners and Salesforce.org leaders to address challenges and develop solutions for the issues faced by nonprofits and schools every day, and unlike traditional advisory boards, the action-oriented Salesforce.org Partner Advisory Board is driven by partners — every single person is part of a working group, and is responsible for actions they contribute to outside of committee meetings.

This special board is composed of eight action-based committees. The committees meet monthly to work towards their own unique goals that improve the overall Salesforce.org ecosystem of customers, partners, and employees. These committees came to be through a generative working session early in 2020 (just before the pandemic hit) and they will ebb and flow as the groups wrap up projects or identify new areas to work on. In fact, we launched a new committee this year at the partners’ request focused on the design of the Partner Network.

Check out the full list of committees below. Thank you to the incredible partners and staff dedicating their time, passion, and energy to driving this change to serve our customers better!

The Equality Committee is focused on creating a more diverse representation in our ecosystem and in leadership positions by creating a framework for educating, hiring, training and promoting underrepresented minorities and those from underrepresented groups. They have been instrumental in launching an open-sourced DEI benchmark survey for our ecosystem, as well as influencing how Salesforce.org Alliances could help drive equity in the partner ecosystem and beyond.

The Sales Committee is driving alignment between Salesforce.org sales teams and partner sales teams by identifying and improving touch points throughout the sales cycle, thus improving outcomes and a better overall experience for our customers.

The Education Cloud & Nonprofit Cloud Committees are focused on improving education and nonprofit solutions through bi-directional product feedback between partners and Salesforce.org.

The Impact Committee is focused on partnering with Salesforce.org to create mutual wins as it relates to impact education, services, and as an approach for market categorization. The committee is currently identifying the key gaps related to customers’ individual and program impact management needs that the Salesforce.org Partner Ecosystem doesn’t currently solve, and identifying how to fill those gaps.

The Customer Success & Services Committee aligns partners with the Salesforce.org Customer Success and Services teams to build even stronger alliances that will enable greater success for our nonprofit and education customers.

The newly launched Partner Network Committee gives partners a voice in shaping the Salesforce.org Partner Network, ensuring that the benefits and resources available to them continue to provide value and help them grow their businesses.

What makes the Partner Advisory Board special is that it transcends ordinary competition between consulting partners and creates an environment where the totality of this exposure can be understood and applied by Salesforce.org directly to its products in a manner that no single individual voice alone could surface. If you are interested in learning more about the Salesforce.org Partner Advisory Board, you can reach us at [email protected].

Read more about how an effective partner ecosystem strives for collaboration over competition.


About the Author

Amy Rose, Sr. Director, Global Partner Engagement, Salesforce.org
Amy Rose
Senior Director, Global Partner Engagement, Salesforce.org
Amy (she/her) leads the Global Partner Engagement team at Salesforce.org, responsible for helping partners be successful, have a strong relationship with Salesforce.org, and get the most value out of being in the Salesforce.org Partner Network. Amy has been in the tech industry for over 15 years, always focused on partnerships, connection, and results-oriented action.