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Dreamforce: 4 Lessons for Sales & Marketing

Dreamforce really is a singular experience. Over 180,000 registered attendees swarmed across downtown San Francisco with Howard Street blocked off (and covered in AstroTurf) and nearly every restaurant near the convention center closed for private events. We heard one attendee commenting that it was like “Disneyland for adults, with the joy and fun replaced with sales and marketing.” Such a festival of capitalism certainly has some good lessons for sales and marketing practitioners. Here’s what we learned:

1) The details matter

The conference literally had its own scent. We never found where it was emanating from, but all of the rooms, and even the expo hall, had the same unmistakable scent. Now, that is brand consistency! We’ve been to too many half-assed conferences, and the difference here was startling. From the intricate forest theme and fake trees throughout to the Salesforce branding everywhere, the organizers obsessed over the details and it shows.

2) Have your customers say it for you

This should be obvious, but it bears repeating. Marketing messages are much more impactful when they come directly from a customer. Nearly every session we attended had at least one Salesforce customer on stage, and it worked. People trust your customers way more than they trust your marketing department, so use them. In practice, this usually takes coordination from sales, customer success, and marketing, but is worth the effort.

3) Help your users’ careers

We believe that one of the keys to Salesforce’s success has been their championing of the Salesforce admin role. These folks have stable careers, likely with a pay premium compared to other options, and they “owe it” to Salesforce. That makes the product so much stickier. Imagine trying to rip out Salesforce with a dedicated admin standing in your way. Dreamforce acknowledged this, and had a heavy focus on career progress and training. It’s worth considering for any enterprise product: how can we champion the careers of our main users?

4) Never miss a chance to upsell

In case you didn’t leave Dreamforce with enough swag, there was literally a Salesforce store on site stocked with branded hoodies, pens, and all sorts of Salesforce tchotchkes. In addition to the product pitches in nearly every session, Salesforce wanted to give you one additional chance to open your wallet. Judging by the full checkout line, it seems to have worked.

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