Among the most significant challenges a company faces is obtaining its initial reference customers. Salesforce has a core competency revolving around telemarketing and sales, so I inquire about the type of support they provide to companies in the Incubator in order to address this challenge.
SM: How do you handle the go-to-market phase with Incubator companies, especially when it comes to deciding how to go after the market segment? Do you give them any lists? RB: No, because we don’t want to spoon feed them. We help them build a good business model. We have success managers on our end who are dedicated to making our partners successful through business planning. We help them create that business plan, we help them get the fundamentals right; “how do you pay for this, what strategies will work for you”, and so forth. Oftentimes we tell them the opposite of what they want to hear, which is simply to focus on one thing and not on 50.
SM: I understand that, but I am going to push back on this a bit. If I were sitting in your incubator and were trying to leverage what you already have, and I already know how to segment the market and focus on one thing, what would be really powerful for me would be to apply those principles on a Salesforce.com lead list. It is a customer base which is already familiar with Salesforce.com, familiar with on-demand, and it is a great place for me to penetrate the market. RB: I am sure you will penetrate the market, but the problem with that value proposition is that I have to share that same list with 60 companies, many of whom are in the exact same business.
I want to make sure that before I start giving out my list to these companies they are finding opportunities. One of the most difficult things for companies to do is find opportunities. If I am going to spoon feed them with opportunities, I don’t think they are going to learn a whole lot. My model is not to make the business easy for them by giving them a bunch of leads to go work on. The model is to equip them with what they need to be successful. They are already in a very privileged position with Salesforce because they are sitting right there with us. Among the few hundred partners living in our ecosystem, they are the privileged. I am not going to let them take a whack at our customers without understanding what they are going to do. They have to find opportunities, and they can use the AppExchange for that. They can draw upon our innovation, but we are not going to give them lists to work from. This is not a cheap way to get lists from Salesforce.
It is almost like a one-year class to become a real company. Believe me, the people who work that model well, they will tell you they do not need lists from Salesforce. If you talk to the companies in the incubator, they know how to do this. The best way to get a lead out of the Salesforce customer base is to have a great value proposition in the AppExchange, and we help them build that value proposition. We help them build their trials, we help them follow up with their tips on those trials, and we have a great sales discipline in place to convert trials into real opportunities that lead to deals. That is how we help them build the business.