NB – This post should be treated as opinion and no decisions should be made off its content
Subsequent to my overview of the Salesforce Partner Ecosystem, in this edition of the Admin2Consultant series I want to give an overview of how Salesforce uses incentives to motivate partners to excel at delivering Salesforce professional services. I first started writing this towards the end of May just after Salesforce had released its new ‘Next Level’ initiative (which I will touch lightly upon later) which would have made the post all the more interesting and topical at the time. Alas, due to the occupational hazards of consulting, I got waylaid with work and this post has been heavily delayed.
To ensure partners continue to provide the best possible service to Salesforce customers on behalf of Salesforce’s network of ‘trusted advisors’, Salesforce uses a unique scoring system called the ‘Partner Value Score’ or PVS in short. This scheme incentivises, categorises, scores and tiers partners/firms in the ecosystem.
The PVS is split out into three areas of focus, each given a specific weighting in points which incentivises partners to attain a higher level of tiering. In return, this generates Salesforce more revenue, greater expertise of the product in the marketplace and a more satisfied customer base.
The PVS is split into three categories; Annual Contract Value (ACV), Expertise and Customer Satisfaction. Within these categories are sub-categories which focus on specific areas or goals in which Salesforce wishes its partners to obtain to drive its business forward. Let’s look at each one in more detail.
Annual Contract Value (ACV)
Annual Contract Value is the value of the all of the Salesforce licenses / add-ons (such as sandboxes and support) sold to a customer, in US dollars. As you will know, Salesforce is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) built onto the Force.com platform (PaaS). This software is provided to customers on the successful payment of their subscription fee to Salesforce, bound by contract. In essence, the takeaway here is that this is revenue for Salesforce. What’s interesting to note is that even if a partner helps Salesforce to secure a multi-year deal with a customer (3 year deals are fairly common), the partner only gets the points for the ACV for the first year of the deal.
Lets look at an example for clarity. A customer signs up for x number of Salesforce licenses, x number of sandboxes and premier support for 3 years. The Total Contract Value (TCV) maybe $1.5 Million, but the the partner will only be recognised for $500,000 as this is the ACV.
All partners are required to aim towards producing a certain amount of ACV per year for Salesforce. This therefore gives a certain number of points per USD. Again, what’s interesting to note, is that no matter the size of the consultancy or tiering (I will come on to this soon), the target is the same across the board, within the same country. ACV is calculated on a rolling 18 month basis; that is, if I successfully make a sale with Salesforce on the 31st December 2016, the total number of points calculated for this sale will contribute to my PVS until 30 June 2018.
What do you mean ‘successfully make a sale with Salesforce?
To add another level to this, Salesforce essentially defines how helpful you have been with them on a particular sale. You can either be their best friend by sourcing the business yourself and taking it to Salesforce and helping them to make the sale. You can be a great friend by helping them to co-sell to a customer by making/delivering demos and helping out with ROI business cases etc, or you can simply be a friend by just helping them out with the implementation (note, if you’re just a friend you don’t get any points for this).
This also leads to another important point. The points a partner can attain for ACV are weighted in themselves. Partners have the opportunity to gain far more points for ACV created from successfully converted sourced leads, provided to Salesforce, than they do for co-sold ACV. There is also a certain number of points to be gained for assisting with the attainment of a set percentage of Y-O-Y growth in your own firm’s ACV that you have sold for Salesforce.
Knowledge, specialisation and expertise of the Salesforce platform, along with best practices of its implementation, are key to its success. Without a solid network of highly skilled professional services who act as trusted advisors on Salesforce’s behalf, Salesforce would risk the satisfaction of its customers (which will lead on nicely to me introducing customer success in a moment).
Knowledge and expertise are mostly measured by the coveted Salesforce certifications, of which, many more have been introduced over the last 6-12 months. Specialisation is measured by contributions of ‘Fullforce’ solutions (which are a bit like product solution accelerators for specific verticals or Clouds) and the new ‘Masters’ & ‘Specialisations’ scheme which contributes to the expertise metric. I will leave you to Google Fullforce solutions if you are not familiar as this could be a blog post in itself. Additionally, I will touch upon the Masters & Specialisations in the ‘Next Level’ section.
Just like ACV and Customer Satisfaction, partners are given a target number of points for which they need to hit to help them to level up from say Silver to Gold level. Certain certifications are worth more than others; these are mainly the implementation best practice certifications (such as the Sales/Service Cloud consultant certs), but also include developer certifications (such as the Platform I cert). Worth less to partners are the other certs such as the Advanced Administrator cert (these are labelled under Expanded Knowledge). I imagine this is done to drive partners to ensure their staff learn the more rigorous implementation best practices certs first.
What’s interesting to note about certifications is that they will contribute towards PVS score forever. That is, you do not need to keep adding certs every period to top up the points. You do however, need to keep the staff that own them at your business and make sure your staff keep their certs current, so I guess the points can be thought of as transient in this way.
A fully approved Fullforce solution packs quite a punch of PVS points and these points will also always contribute to the PVS score. The same goes for having a Salesforce Certified Technical Architect at your firm; this is a true haymaker in terms of points and these ‘masters of the realm’ are in high demand.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
I saved the most important until last; maybe not by overall PVS score, but certainly by reputation. A partner will always want to have a consistently high CSAT score with their clients as this will earn them not only a decent PVS score but also a decent reputation and thus relationship with Salesforce. You never know, you might also start sourcing your own leads through word of mouth and client referrals too, leading to more points via the ACV route.
Customer Satisfaction is based on a 1 – 10 scoring system based on how satisfied a customer is with a fully delivered project from a partner. This score is given directly from a the project sponsor on the customer side and is averaged over a number of different metrics on a feedback form, designed to quantify a number of different aspects of the delivery of the project. In addition to the CSAT score, customer satisfaction is also measured on the number of successful Customer Stories submitted through the partner portal that Salesforce AE’s can use as collateral. This is essentially reference-able material that might be used in internally or in a sales capacity. Both are measured on a rolling 18 month basis. So remember, if I gain points on 31st December 2016 for CSAT, it will no longer contribute to my PVS score after 30 June 2018.
Now the PVS score is mainly apparent for one reason, tiering. All partners get entered into a tier depending on their accumulative PVS score based off the activities we have discussed above. For this I’ve created a part 2 for this post, the Partner Tiering System. See you there!