-by Mike Wolff (Salesforce) & Michaël Bentolila (InsideBoard)
They gave this talk about using communities and partners to sales to large enterprises, at B2B Rocks Paris — the international conference for B2B & SaaS startups.
More info on https://b2brocks.co/paris/
Michael Wolff: What is it like to be a Co-Founder with your brother? And when there’s a disagreement, who wins?
Michael Bentolila: In reality, it’s the best experience in my life where you need to work in family is great, especially if you have complementary. He is a tech and I am the business guy, with the vision of what we have to do. The employees also like it, for stability.
Michael Wolff: One of the things that we’re really proud of at Salesforce is being a values-driven company. We value trust, we value diversity, we value equality. And as I was preparing for today, one of the things I noticed on your website was the success that you’ve had in terms of hiring a diverse workforce. The stat that you have on your website is that your current team is currently made up of 43% female and 57% male. And in the technology world, that’s something that we all should be aspiring towards. And I’m curious, how have you and your company built that into your DNA and your culture to focus on gender equality as you build your company?
Michael Bentolila: So, I know that for the French tech, equality is very important. We have a lot of initiatives about that. And for me, it was very important to have this equality. It’s true, it’s a value inside the company. Even the board is composed of 60% of women and 40% of men. It gives stability to the company. And, my mother would kill me if I thought differently.
Michael Wolff: As you start to look at the next 12 to 18 months for InsideBoard, talk to us a little bit about what success looks like for the team.
Michael Bentolila: We are launching our API in order to have worldwide exposure. It means that we are going to start raising a Series B. We are going to grow from 60 people to 150 people in the next 18 months and we are going to go worldwide. The success will come from our focus on our ecosystem.
Michael Wolff: Why don’t you tell us all about that? Talk to us a little bit about how you’re looking to leverage partners to help amplify your strategy.
Michael Bentolila: For us, the ecosystem is in our DNA. It’s important if you work in B2B, especially with big companies. So in our strategy, we choose to work in one ecosystem. This ecosystem, for us, the Salesforce’s ecosystem. This is the number one largest B2B ecosystem in the world for SaaS companies. It was very important to start with one big partner and for us, it was Salesforce.
Michael Wolff: We have about 5,000 apps in the AppExchange, that have been installed close to seven million times by our customers. And what’s also interesting is about 88% of our customers also have installed at least one application. So that’s a little bit of data behind the B2B ecosystem.
Michael Bentolila: If you want to start with this kind of ecosystem, you don’t have a lot of AppExchange is the word. So, first, you need to be in the AppExchange. It’s like the App Store. Secondly, we have our own technology because we are an agnostic solution. A part of this technology has been developed through the Salesforce technology in order to create a specific connector between our technology and others. Third, we work a lot with our network because we are in this AppExchange, so we have the technology, we have the trust of the network around Salesforce. And we have other partners in consulting with Accenture or Deloitte, for example.
If you have the network, if you have the technology and the connector with your ecosystem and you are in the AppExchange, you will have the visibility and you will have the trust in your ecosystem.
Today, I’m speaking about Salesforce because for us, it was obviously the biggest. Even if there are many smaller ecosystems, if you want to get quick business with large customers, large needs, it was obvious to go with the leader.
Michael Wolff: You are solving a specific challenge in the marketplace. How do you differentiate yourself? How do you rise above the noise and make sure that our customers, Salesforce, other partners understand the challenge that you’re solving for?
Michael Bentolila: You need to be a sponsor of your ecosystem if you want to make. If you are close to your technology partner, you’re going to be close to their customers and their partner.
The first thing was to sponsor them. Four years ago, we were Silver partner, we didn’t have enough money. But we wanted to invest more and to have more legitimacy. For the last four years, we have been Platinum in France but also in the US.
It’s true that it’s a lot of money. If you want to have success, you need to invest. It’s money for a team which will help you to have a relationship with customers and partners.
Also, you need to train your Sales team. They want to sell, but they cannot sell alone in the B2B world. They need your ecosystem.
Michael Wolff: So you invest a lot of time in resources into building this relationship in the ecosystem. I’m curious, how do you measure the success of this investment?
Michael Bentolila: First of all, the revenue. Each year, we double the revenue of the company (ARR), thanks to this strategy. Secondly, the number of leads. Today, from 60% to 80% of our leads come from our ecosystem. We have leads that come from partners and from customers who heard from us from partners.
Michael Wolff: When we build ecosystems, we become part of an ecosystem to help better serve and deliver value to our customers. I’d love for you to share a compelling customer success story with the group.
Michael Bentolila: We know the needs of our customers and we have built two great partnerships with Salesforce but also with Accenture. And they introduced us to their biggest customers, like EDF which is now one of our best customers. It is a great achievement. And because of that, we are going to work also with other customers. You know there is a velocity of success.
Michael Wolff: If you were to provide them with advice on building out a partner strategy, what’s one lesson that you’ve learned over the years that you want to share with everyone here today?
Michael Bentolila: You have many opportunities, many ways to go. My first advice really is to be focused because you don’t have many resources. Even if you raised money, money goes very fast. So, the first advice is to be very focused. For example, your product team needs to create a great product for the right use case and reach product-market-fit. If you are close to your ecosystem, you will understand faster what is the best product for your market.
Your time is precious, your resources are precious and the best advice I have really is to invest in your ecosystem, to focus your time on your ecosystem, to choose, first of all, your ecosystem.
If you have a worldwide ambition, when you are in the AppExchange, you have a local presence but also a global presence. I just call the team and they will introduce to me to the customers in this area