Salesforce has handed out thousands of certifications in Australia

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This article appeared in the April 2018 issue of CRN magazine.

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Salesforce has handed out thousands of certifications in Australia
Charles Woodall, Salesforce
Salesforce is on a growth trajectory in Australia after the launch of its local data centres last year. Charles Woodall explains how this opens up opportunities to partner with the cloud CRM vendor.
I had the good fortune that Salesforce reached out to me and it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Out of all the companies that I’ve wanted to work for in this space, the 1-1-1 philosophy and the philanthropic nature of the business are things that I’ve aspired to replicate in my own life, so it was a very natural fit for me.
Investing in partners
We’re seeing partners that want to go into a period of hyper-growth. Capital investment is an area where Salesforce believes we can invest in the partners. We invested in two partners over the previous three years, and now we’re looking at eight new partners to invest in.
The partner ecosystem has changed dramatically because they’re now trying to solve more customer challenges and problems than they were historically. 
We’re very selective now with partners actually aligning to customer needs and requirements.
We have partners covering all aspects of our customer ecosystem. We have smaller partners that cover the SMB space, with customers with less than 50 people. We have partners in the midmarket to enterprise space as well. Then we have the [global system integrators], like IBM, Accenture, PwC – all of those partners that are focused on business transformation. 
They might be looking at an end-to-end transformation project with clients such as banks. 
Salesforce is literally an end-to-end partner ecosystem, and we’ve invested heavily in that in the past 12 months.
About 69 percent of our business across Australia has some level of partner interaction, and that’s gone up substantially year after year.
The ecosystem is maturing. People now understand the power of the platform and what Salesforce can actually do. People are now realising what cross-cloud implementations can do and what business problems they can address for their customers more and more. 
The biggest challenge partners face at the moment is being able to keep up with growth. It’s how to invest in getting more people into the ecosystem. 
We’re actively working with universities to get internships with Salesforce-certified interns. 
We have a goal of getting 500 interns this year who will actually go out and work within the partner community.
We’re also seeing partners themselves investing heavily in education. With the access to Trailhead [Salesforce’s training program], they’re able to get certified. I think we had more than 3000 certifications this year in our partner ecosystem, and 1000 individuals certified. It means more people are coming into the ecosystem and helping drive growth.
We have a really defined path for partners on training. We announced a training schedule 12 months in advance for the first time, so partners can clearly see where they need to eventually train to complement their existing practices. 
If there are areas that they want to learn about, we have a partner portal, which is very m uch geared towards self-learning, but we have consultants as well to help them achieve their goals. 
We’re going to continue to invest heavily in the partner ecosystem. We see such a huge opportunity for us. This is one of the growth markets of Salesforce; it’s one of the growth engines of the company and we are continuing to heavily invest in the partner ecosystem to support that.
We really welcome the opportunity to work with new partners, but we’ll keep investing in existing partners as well.  
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