I attended my first Dreamforce, Salesforce’s annual user conference, in 2004 where the attendance was right around 2,500 people. Last year’s Dreamforce over 150,000 registered to attend. It’s gone past a traditional user conference to one of the biggest business events of the year.
Salesforce 2017 Customer Trailblazer Awards
And this year the company is launching its first annual Customer Trailblazer Awards, where winners not only get to attend Dreamforce for free, but they also will have the power of Salesforce’s marketing might to share their winning story of why they are business trailblazers.
Cynthia Hester, Director of Customer Advocacy for Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), shares why Salesforce is starting this award, what the criteria is, who can participate, and how you can enter a submission. She also discusses how the contest will be judged and the other prizes the winners will receive.
Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To hear the full conversation watch the embedded video or audio clip below. And make sure you get your Salesforce 2017 Customer Trailblazer Awards entry in by June 16!
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Small Business Trends: So tell us about this really interesting award, the Trailblazer Award and how it came about and why Salesforce is doing it.
Cynthia Hester: We wanted an opportunity elevate and celebrate our customers that are doing transformative, innovative things with the technology and the platform. And this was a perfect way to do it. Any customer around the world that’s a Salesforce customer, six months or longer, can tell us their story. And we are going to be able to celebrate those teams and those leaders that are really making a difference and doing things within digital transformation, looking at newer technologies like AI, and mobile. So we’re really excited about this.
Small Business Trends: Maybe you can talk us through the award categories.
Cynthia Hester: We developed these categories and they’re aligned with our company values.
Innovation, growth, trust, equality, and then we added an award around inspiration.
By innovation we mean have you, as a customer, taken the technology and used that to create a new experience? Have you figured out a new way for your company to move forward around digital transformation? Have you destructed an industry or a category?
In terms of growth, has the project enabled you, or your customers or your communities to really grow and expand with the work that they’re doing. So I think here companies should be creative in terms of how they look at growth because it could be financial growth, but it could also be growth around developing culture. It could be growth around establishing a learning platform for their employees. It could be helping their communities actually move into a new direction.
The next category is about trust and this is one of our key tenets at Salesforce. So we’re looking for companies that tell us how you instill security and make sure that what you’re doing has a very strong element of trust, and if you’ve used that in a way to make a difference. To transform; to break out and do something differently in that space. We want to hear from you. We want to hear about that.
And then in terms of equality, we call this the Year of Equality, Mark Benioff gave out some awards earlier this year to notable people in this space, and again we really want people to be creative about it; but talk about how you’re using the platform to instill that in your culture, to instill that as you reach out to your customers and the people that they do business with every day.
And then finally inspirational. And again, this could be an executive leader, it could be a team leader, it could be one of your team members. And this person makes people feel differently and makes them rise to the occasion and maybe do things that they didn’t think they could do. So they really are motivational and inspiring, all in the way that they work and the way that they collaborate and work with the team.
Small Business Trends: Who all is eligible to win this thing?
Cynthia Hester: So any Salesforce customer that’s been deployed for six months or longer is eligible. There are some geographical restrictions and people should just go up to the website to make sure that their country is on the list, that they can actually enter, but we’re really looking at a global view of getting customer entries in, so if you’ve got a great story and you feel like you’ve innovated and disrupted and transformed either your company or your business, those are the stories we’re looking for.
Small Business Trends: How do people get a chance to go through the submission and judging process?
Cynthia Hester: We’ve made this really easy. Go to trailblazerawards.com and do the submission, and then what will happen once everybody has submitted (the call for entries will close on the 16th of June), the judges will be looking for things that will extend out in each of the five areas that I talked about. And if you look at the descriptions, we try to give people a little guidance. And they’ll see when they actually go in to write their submissions what things we’re looking for in each one of those areas. But again I really encourage people to just think really deeply about what was the motivation for your project? Why do you find it meaningful? And if you can communicate that to us and the judges, it will definitely come out in your submission, and those are the people we’re looking to showcase and elevate with this program.
Small Business Trends: Give us some of the time frames and deadlines.
Cynthia Hester: Sure, we’ve got until the 16th of June for people to send in their submissions, and then about the early part of July we’ll start the judging process. Once we go through that process and we have our winners and our finalists, we’ll start the notification process into early August and then at Dreamforce we will be announcing all of our winners and all of our finalists, and we’ll have our Dreamforce experience in a really big celebration to recognize those companies that have stood out with this awards program.
Small Business Trends: What are the awards?
Cynthia Hester: You get a Dreamforce experience for you and up to five of your colleagues; that includes your pass to Dreamforce and your hotel stay. You’ll get a workshop session with our world class UX group for your company, and we will then provide the opportunity to share your story across a multitude of channels with our customer marketing organization, and also with our customer insights team.
So we’re really looking forward to being able to share then, and then I feel like everyone is going to win at the end, because we will have some amazing stories to share with our entire Salesforce community and I think that is going to be the real winner here. People will get to see some great examples of companies doing some amazing things. But we will have 10 winners, 2 per category.
Small Business Trends: And where can people go to learn more and to get submitted and all those things?
Cynthia Hester: Go to trailblazerawards.com and that is where you’ll see the Enter Now button. Push that and it’ll open up your submission form.
Small Business Trends: And what’s the deadline again?
Cynthia Hester: And the deadline is June 16th. So people have about two weeks to get their submissions in.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.
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