Preferred Return Podcast

Unlocking Salesforce for PE:
Interview with Salesforce Ben

About the Episode

Season 3 of the Preferred Return podcast is here! We are thrilled to kick off the first episode with a special edition featuring a Salesforce celebrity guest.

Being purpose-built atop, Altvia’s platform benefits from Salesforce’s powerful infrastructure and ecosystem, which allows us to focus on solving the daily workflow challenges that plague alternative asset professionals. It also gives us access to Salesforce thought leaders and partners to better understand how to properly leverage the powerful platform.

We are excited to share that we had the privilege of sitting down with one of the more well-known name in this arena, Salesforce Ben, for a conversation about how we are leveraging Salesforce to provide a best-in-class experience within the private capital market. The conversation between Salesforce Ben’s founder, Ben McCarthy, and Altvia’s Chief Strategy Officer, Jeff Williams, explores the ethos that has driven Salesforce Ben’s success today, the power of the Salesforce ISV and OEM ecosystem, the crucial role of domain-specific providers with industry expertise, and, of course, the hot topic of AI.


[00:00:00] Jeff Williams: Ben McCarthy, thrilled to have you, man. You’re otherwise known as Salesforce Ben, and we’re going to talk a lot about that. But also, I have to tell you, we announced to our team on Monday that we’re going to be having you on the podcast and many of them are regular consumers of Salesforce Ben, and I think that makes you the most famous perhaps of the guests we’ve had on Preferred Return.

[00:00:28] So thanks again for joining us. We’re just thrilled to have you.

[00:00:31] Ben McCarthy: Yeah, thank you so much. Pleasure to be here. It’s been a crazy ride and Salesforce Ben’s actually turning 10 this month, which is absolutely insane.

[00:00:39] Jeff Williams: I can’t wait to hear about the Salesforce Ben 10-year party in London. Thats awesome. So you’re based in London?

[00:00:45] Ben McCarthy: Yeah. So we’ve got an office now in Shoreditch which is like the hipster area of London, or it used to be, it’s a bit more commercial now, but yeah we’ve got an office here for a few months. We’re 20-23 people across the UK and Europe, most of them based in or around, around London.

[00:01:06] And yeah, I’m not originally from London. I’m from Portsmouth, which is a lot less glamorous down South. I lived in London for the past eight years.

[00:01:14] Jeff Williams: Tell us a little bit about the origin of Salesforce Ben. We talked a little bit about this ahead of this call, but frankly, I’ve been wanting to dig in even more. So tell us how Salesforce Ben came to be. It’s amazing that you have 23 people. Tell us the sort of origin story of how it’s grown. And what it is today.

[00:01:31] Ben McCarthy: Yeah, sure. A little bit of a weird business… We’re a media business nowadays, just focusing on the Salesforce ecosystem. But yeah. It started back in 2014 when I was working as a Salesforce admin. So I’ve been in the ecosystem for about two years at that point.

[00:01:46] So I joined in 2012 and I’m like a bit of a tinkerer, I like to think I’m a little bit creative. So I’ve always been a bit technical, but I was never a coder, I wanted to run a website domain name, that kind of thing. And I thought I’ll just start writing about Salesforce.

[00:02:00] So it was a funny time in 2014 because it was before Trailhead. Trailhead was released later that year. There wasn’t that many content creators. There were a few bloggers around. I definitely wasn’t the first blogger. There were a few Salesforce MVPs. A guy called David Lu that you might know, a very popular developer, and content creator, so yeah, definitely wasn’t the first, but I just started doing it and started being very consistent.

[00:02:24] I was working as an admin, and Salesforce documentation wasn’t great back then. So I had a lot of stuff I had to find out myself. And I thought, oh, I’ll write all of it down so someone else can access it as well. So I did that. I was an admin for a while. I then moved to Conga who’s the big ISV document generation.

[00:02:41] I started learning about new stuff, different stuff there. So it gave me a lot to write about. From there I moved to a consultancy and started out as a business analyst, but I got made into the managing director. Because the manager at the firm left and it was an office of two people. So it wasn’t much of a promotion.

[00:02:56] And so then I had a lot to write about in terms of consulting. So as my career evolved, I had a lot to write about and I had quite a diverse experience from leveling up my own career, and focusing on different parts of the Salesforce ecosystem. I was lucky enough to be in companies where it’s very good to network and there are a lot of people who worked in Conga that now work for all kinds of different ISVs.

[00:03:17] So I’ve learned from them over the years as well. Really, it just started out as a blog. And it’s now evolved over the years and we see ourselves much more as a media company serving the sales community to keep them abreast of everything going on.

[00:03:29] Jeff Williams: I want to unpack a lot there as we go here. But curious, upfront early on. What was it like? Immediate people were taken to this. I know there’s all sorts of things about building a business and content like this and it takes a minute. But I guess ultimately, the point I want to unpack is I think, Trailhead, you mentioned that’s come a long way.

[00:03:51] I think that’s been really helpful, but certainly pre Trailhead when you got started and even now today, still just a lot of stuff a lot of things that the Salesforce platform is capable of a lot of power, a lot of folks that aren’t traditional engineers with computer science backgrounds. And so a lot of people looking for best practices and tutorials, as you were on how to do certain things. And that goes back to my question. Was it immediate? It seems like the demand was there.

[00:04:20] How long did it take to really start seeing a ton of traffic?

[00:04:23] Ben McCarthy: It was fairly quick, actually. I think I was right place, right time, and a little bit lucky. I think when I started out Salesforce was doing about 3 billion in revenue and then, now they’re doing about 33. The ecosystem really exploded over that time.

[00:04:44] So it did get traction quite quickly, and I actually think it was because I was consistent. I was by no means an SEO expert, but I was paying attention to SEO, trying to rank the keywords, that kind of thing, just trying to be a bit smart about it, and write stuff people are actually interested in.

[00:05:01] I was trying to be a bit BuzzFeedy about it as well. I don’t know if you ever read BuzzFeed, but it was like listicles. I remember writing this one that was like, sounds so cheesy now, but like kind of six things that make you a kick-ass admin or something like that.

[00:05:15] I thought the posts had a cheesy click-baity title, but some of the content was pretty good. So trying to do unique things like that, when the site started, it had a kind of funny Superman logo with his kind of fist out flying with my face, like cartoons on, it was cheesy, funny, a bit unique.

[00:05:35] So it did get traction quite quickly. We started in 2014, and I remember May 2015 was London World Tour and I was in the booth with Conga, so I was doing booth work, and people were coming up to me then and recognizing me, which was a little bit nerve wracking, but very cool at the same time saying, oh, your site’s helped me so much.

[00:06:01] So it did gather steam quite quickly and it was definitely down to being a little bit lucky, right place, right time, but also being smart with creating the right type of content, but also being unique about it as well. I’d always recommend any content creator nowadays to really determine what is your USP in a sea of content creators.

[00:06:19] How are you going to stand out from another one? And that’s why I see so many people now creating AI-generated content. I’m just like, no.

[00:06:25] Jeff Williams: You know, to think 23 people, are employed now literally because of this sort of, gap or this opportunity in creating content. I’m curious you started to get recognized at events, and stuff. Salesforce Technology any sort of, relationship there?

[00:06:44] Ben McCarthy: Yeah. I’m a Salesforce MVP. So I got that in must’ve been 2015.

[00:06:48] So just about a year after I started, which I was, ecstatic about. So I’ve been linked up with sales officially for a while. Because we’re classed as media now, we work with the Salesforce press team.

[00:07:03] So we get forwarded press releases, which are gonna be released. We get the news ahead of time, just so we can prepare content, content, which is nice. And, we have good relationships with Salesforce product managers who will often speak to them and say, what features are they working on?

[00:07:19] What’s new and exciting? What content can we work on together? We have something very exciting coming up this Friday in two days cause we’re going to do some filming in the Salesforce tower in London, which is just down the road. So we’re going to go film what it’s like to be in the Salesforce tower, film some interviews, some Salesforce employees and things like that.

[00:07:38] Yeah, really good relationship with Salesforce. They’re a big partner of ours.

[00:07:42] Jeff Williams: I gotta tell you I, I think I was one of those folks that probably found you pretty organically, how to do this, how to do that. It’s really cool to see, that you’ve built a real business out of it and you’ve got the two formal relationships, the Salesforce, talking to the product managers and things like that because it would have been easy just to a place where there were some tutorials, but those are two very different things.

[00:08:01] So hats off to you. When was the first time you heard the name Salesforce? I was thinking about this morning and I think I’ve pinpointed mine. I want to know if you recall that.

[00:08:15] Ben McCarthy: I do, actually. So it’s quite funny. So I graduated from college in information systems, which is perfect for Salesforce because it is basically half computer science, half business, mostly business, less coding. So it’s perfect to go into Salesforce and I did get a job becoming a IT Consultant.

[00:08:34] And it was starting in September of 2012 and I was just telling people I was going to be an IT consultant, but I didn’t know what I was actually going to be doing. But I had a few months before I started this job. So I actually got a job with Yelp.

[00:08:48] Who you probably know very well, but people in the UK would probably know TripAdvisor more, but Yelp’s a bit big in the US. So it’s like a cold calling job. And I was actually using Salesforce for that which was quite funny. And then I quit and then I got a job at this IT consultancy where I found out on the first day I could be working with this tool called Salesforce.

[00:09:06] And then it all clicked together and I already knew what it could be used for so it slotted in quite well when I joined that role and like honestly it just fit like a glove the software with my skills. I didn’t really know what a real job out in the real world meant or what being an IT consultant meant, but when I found out I could build systems without coding and everything, I knew databases, and fields made sense to me.

[00:09:30] Relationships made sense to me. Objects made sense to me. So I did learn it quite quickly, which was quite nice.

[00:09:36] Jeff Williams: To hear a name like that. I was thinking for me, it was probably, I can’t remember now. It was either 2005 or 2006. I went to work. As some of the listeners will know out of school at a venture capital fund of funds and was a junior guy on the investment team coming in the fall.

[00:09:53] And there had been a summer intern who had worked to take what was a newly implemented Salesforce instance by a third party consultant and start entering all of this data we have had at the time. And the data was primarily details on some of the venture capital funds that we were invested in, and then the information about the underlying holdings of those funds.

[00:10:18] What was the company’s name, where was it headquartered, what sector is it in, how much does the fund invest, and things like that. And it’s ironic, cause we’re going to go down this little thread here about, the power of Salesforce, some ofthe things about, UX UI is one we’ll talk about.

[00:10:32] Anyway, my first recollection is a visual one of watching this intern sit at a computer. What was to me, clearly a website. And click through all these screens and that was, I guess Salesforce called it the aloha.

[00:10:49] And so it was like, very square, with lots of drop shadows.

[00:10:54] Just hideous gradient, things like that. And at the time it was perfectly fine, I recall being like, wow, that’s a website, and so that was ironically the first recollection I have of being introduced to Salesforce. And of course, spent five years going on to, invest in software as a service companies. And that whole theme was mainstream. And of course, actually, in many cases used Salesforce as a proxy for how we would value certain companies and things like that. But in any case I suppose it was right then where I was like, wow, this is, pretty interesting.

[00:11:27] And again, I emphasize that it was a website, right? Cause it wasn’t 2005, 2006. So it was. Not super mainstream to use a browser, the software, and of course, I changed quickly. 

[00:11:40] And then the other one was like, I had to watch him and try to figure out what he was doing because he was leaving and he’s a summer intern.

[00:11:47] He was done and somebody had to figure out what he was doing that he was entering a lot of data. And of course, all of the clicks and stuff like that, I had no idea I would go on to have such big feelings about the Salesforce UX UI and clicks. But in that moment, it was one where it actually made it difficult to keep track of exactly what he was doing. So it’s a little bit overwhelming. But of course, we fast-forward the story, since 2021, 11 times over Salesforce has grown revenue.

[00:12:22] We could fill hours and hours of podcast tape just about that when we won’t, but I’m curious to get your take, perhaps your parents, friends, your grandparents have asked you this sort of thing before, what do you do and you tell them, I do Salesforce Ben, and then they ask the question what is Salesforce. If they asked you that today, I’m curious, what’s your view of is today? How would you describe it? What would you say about it?

[00:12:46] Ben McCarthy: I think it really is the hub for most businesses now, it’s many things to many different people, right? You’re a Tableau professional or something. Salesforce is just this random company that’s come and acquired your precious Tableau.

[00:12:59] I know Tableau people dont have a lot of exposure with Salesforce sometimes, though it’s quite segmented still. But I think the way that Salesforce has their kind of acquisition strategy and how they’ve grown over the years is just really smart. I think they’re almost ahead of their time in a way, because they started multi-cloud. I don’t know when service cloud was born, but marketing cloud they purchased in 2013, I think.

[00:13:25] So that was when multi-cloud properly started, get your sales with us, get your service, get your marketing. And that was 10 years ago and people are still trying to adopt multi-cloud, move other systems on Salesforce, so everything’s on one platform.

[00:13:39] And I know some people are seeing kind of consolidation. Now, people have after the kind of SaaS boom over the last few years, people are using like there’s some crazy stat Salesforce came out with some enterprise businesses using 3000 systems. I can’t remember if it’s 300 or 3000.

[00:13:58] But anyway crazy number of systems. And now Salesforce has all these products, some of which they bought, some of which they’ve created organically, one, for example, is like high-velocity sales. I don’t know if you know that one, but they compete with people like Outreach and SalesLoft, but Salesforce has it on their own platform.

[00:14:13] So a lot of people consolidating software at the moment, they want to get rid of stuff. And I think Salesforce should hopefully do quite well from that just because people want to simplify things. They want to integrate less with other systems, and have everything on the same platform, even though, Salesforce isn’t necessarily all on one platform, but it does integrate quite easily together.

[00:14:34] Yeah, no, I think they’ve done. They’ve done very well. And AI, we’ll see what happened with that as much as people like to try and bring doom and gloom to people. Like you don’t learn AI now you’re going to be out of the job next month. I think we are very early days.

[00:14:48] But I think what Salesforce has positioned with that kind of, it’s like flow or lightning app builder for AI, a declarative system where you can set up prompts. You can connect to different models. And we’re yet to see too many real-life examples of that, but I know there are a bunch out there.

[00:15:04] Yeah, I think they’ve positioned themselves very well. As I said in one of my blog posts recently, Salesforce revenue growth has slowed down quite significantly across most products sales and service cloud, in particular data cloud is still growing quite fast.

[00:15:16] It might give them a big second wind because they do seem to have a market-leading AI system.

[00:15:29] Jeff Williams: You know, there was so much said about AI, and the need to react and declare stuff. And, I’ve thought a lot about this and it was there’s going to be a lot of nonsense in that, right? And there’s going to be people who strategically are motivated to and rewarded by just blabbing something out there about AI, but not having it make any sense.

[00:15:47] And then there are going to be people that are not as quick on the trigger with a reaction, but are a little bit more thoughtful. And when they have something to say they’ll have something that’s meaningful. I think if your Salesforce you straddled that line, you had to react and leave the perception with the world that you’re on the leading edge of that.

[00:16:05] But I also think that they’ve, been thoughtful with the stuff they’ve done and they’ve taken their time with. And to your point, really impressive. They were in a great position to lead there. And I think they’ve executed pretty well, even if, they weren’t the first ones to have something in front of other people.

[00:16:21] I think it’s at the end of the day, a little bit more meaningful, at least to me to see what’s the substance of what people are saying about AI, and what are they doing with it versus just having a reaction. You can use a ChatGPT bot like on our public-facing website, cool, nobody cares.

[00:16:38] Ben McCarthy: Yeah, I agree. I think it is going to be really exciting, but just the way I’ve been a little bit of a kind of AI pessimist kind of over the past year or so just because the hype was just crazy. And of course, ChatGPT was super cool I was using it the other day to I don’t know if you’ve tried out the new kind of voice and speak thing so you can speak to it and then it replies in a very scarily eery human voice replies back to you.

[00:17:03] And I was like brainstorming business ideas and saying, Hey, what are the disadvantages of the current platform out there? And, would this business idea work to compete with it? It’s still very generic, but it was a good conversation I had with ChatGPT.

[00:17:19] So very impressive, but it’s just the way people are over-hyping it. And, these things are going to take time, enterprises aren’t going to implement these things overnight. There’s going to be a lot of testing, trial and error, experimenting to see what actually works.

[00:17:35] But then at the same time, a lot of surveys that I’ve seen saying people, customers basically going to throw money at this stuff because they don’t want to lag behind their competitors. So the hype might create this kind of cycle of, spending on stuff that might actually bring value, but it might not.

[00:17:50] Jeff Williams: So let’s go back a little bit. You getting to know Salesforce and clearly powerful, as you said, the declarative stuff. I mentioned this very briefly, but I implied a lot more. I think what is so powerful about Salesforce is the fact that you don’t have to be a computer science person, you don’t even really have to know how to code and yet you can build meaningful business applications and get them to market quickly.

[00:18:20] And I guess I’m a little torn about this, right? I think my viewpoint about this is that in large part what has led to Salesforce’s success.

[00:18:30] At the end of the day, had they been constrained by an ecosystem of implementers and integrators where that wasn’t the case, then of course they would not have gotten into the accounts that they did, and they certainly as quickly as they did.

[00:18:42] At the same time I think that there are people who have controversial and conflicted views about in terms of their own personal experience of being a user. And that is to say that if you’ve used, you have an opinion on this matter, even if you don’t know it.

[00:19:04] We’ll help you unpack it here on Preferred Return. In some cases, people absolutely adore Salesforce for virtually everything, right? It’s ability to be deployed quickly, it’s flexibility, it’s scale, security, reliability, all those sorts of things. And then there are people who are indifferent perhaps about the user experience and whether or not they enjoy the way the application is laid out and the ways that they interact with it. What’s interesting, I think about the universe of Salesforce users and many people who have really big feelings about that specific part on the UX front, still feel the way those that other group does in terms of adore it for its, scale and, ability to integrate and its flexibility and all those sorts of things.

[00:19:54] And now over, however long it’s been 20 years or something. I think that the sort of timeline is now long enough that people are making decisions to stick with Salesforce, not to, to go with something else because their feelings are so strong about this matter. And so that there’s a lot there and we’ll take it out one by one. There are a lot of folks that there have been since the origin of Salesforce and the ecosystem has only grown and, compounded fashion. I think Salesforce Ben is evidence of that, of people out there with varying degrees of experience of implementing Salesforce.

[00:20:36] Not necessarily like technically formally trained backgrounds and experience, but definitely cooking with gas and able to make clicks and relying upon Salesforce Ben to be able to do some pretty sophisticated stuff that kind of straddles that line of don’t know a thing about code versus, take it to the next level and do some coding. And so you’ve been doing this for a long time. What would you say about that? There’s a bunch of people out there that have made this company in large part what it is because of their ability to deploy it, at the same time, I joke sometimes that if software engineers were civil engineers man, it would be really dicey, right?

[00:21:14] And so when we’re talking about, folks that aren’t even as classically trained as a lot of software engineers. I think that’s a part of Salesforce I think you have to embrace that it’s served it really well.

[00:21:30] And in some cases it may be done a little damage, but certainly you’ve seen that in many ways, there are these little Salesforce implementers, zombies, and Salesforce Ben is doing the world a favor, a service to help get these zombies pointed in the right direction. The zombies are gonna be there one way or the other, right? And it’s actually probably a good thing.

[00:21:50] Ben McCarthy: Yeah, it’s a really interesting topic and, there is a stereotype out there that people don’t like using Salesforce, salespeople around the world unite about not wanting to use Salesforce. I guess there’s probably a few things at play. I think firstly, Salesforce is so powerful and you can do anything with it.

[00:22:08] It does mean you can over-customize it, overcomplicate it. You can create processes that aren’t needed. I used to run a Salesforce consultancy and we grew it to 25 people. We were fairly big, and had a lot of customers, a lot of SMB customers. And projects didn’t go well all the time.

[00:22:24] A lot of them did, but it was so dependent on a perfect process, perfect requirements, gathering process, perfectly understanding their goals and what their real pain points were, what their needs were passing that all over to the implementers to do it properly and building and best practice.

[00:22:43] And obviously there’s a million and one ways to do one thing. So depending on which way that consultant wants to do it it can get a bit complicated, and then you’ve got training. Training is a huge part of it. If people aren’t onboard, you haven’t got executive buy-in, you can get some sales managers who are resistant to using it, and if they’re resistant to using it then the sales people are going to be resistant to using it.

[00:23:07] And then and then you’ve got ongoing maintenance as well, right? We used to work with a lot of customers who had it implemented five years ago, didn’t get an admin, and didn’t have any kind of managed services from a consultancy, it’s just left there stagnated, some of the crazy reports and dashboards people build with no experience just look terrible.

[00:23:25] And, people think it is Salesforce, the platform. It’s not an easy tool to work with. Everything needs to run perfectly and you need to have constant maintenance and you need like a salesperson, RevOps person, analyzing processes, making sure users are happy, making sure those things are being implemented.

[00:23:44] And ultimately, Salesforce is there to make you more money, make you more money, make customers happier, make your users more productive. And it’s not doing that, then it really needs to be analyzed. Projects need to be spun up to work out what’s actually going on. And I think, just to bring it back to the here and now, AI and data quality are coming into play and AI isn’t going to be any good if your data’s rubbish and data quality has always been a big issue on Salesforce.

[00:24:13] Jeff Williams: These are all things that the bulk of them are not specific to Salesforce. This is the reality of business applications generally, right? Especially when you’re talking about applications that are as core and as mission-critical to businesses, especially large ones.

[00:24:29] As CRM is. And in many ways that’s just the reality of committing and investing in business applications. Salesforce still has that sort of very unique and differentiated position of a whole ecosystem, time to market flexibility, all those sorts of things. And I think in many ways it gets this bad rap as if to imply that there’s this world out there where you can commit and make investment in a meaningful mission-critical business application, and it’ll just be, apple pie and roses, never be any sort of issue.

[00:25:04] And that’s the sort of flip side of this dynamic is that because so many people have used Salesforce because it’s so prolific. A lot of people have controversial opinions about this sort of user experience. Whereas many of us have never actually interacted as a user with NetSuite, but it’s been around, Think even longer, right?

[00:25:23] It’s a position that Salesforce is probably proud to be in because it’s actually a position of, that demonstrates their strength and yet they’re also very committed to working through that. And like I say, my first interaction with it was a couple of major UX changes back.

[00:25:42] And so they’ve definitely, done wonders to do that stuff, but also, part of the challenge here and where I want to go next is just the inherent flexibility that Salesforce offers of not being able to design very purposeful and thoughtful user experiences, and user interfaces for every single persona in every single, segment of every single market, out there. And so that’s where there’s a lot of emphasis on The ecosystem to go with that. And on that point, we chatted prior to this call here and talked a little bit, I think that one of the things that Altvia would act as a witness to is for whatever reason, not because we chose, but for whatever reason the traditional Salesforce, especially the sales cloud model and the workflows just don’t line up all that well with how like private asset managers raise capital for their funds and then ultimately deploy it.

[00:26:40] And again, that’s just one of those things. And I’ve been fascinated over the years to be working in like the nuance that distinguishes the two in terms of what we built it Altvia, which is a repeatable model that has all of this, stuff, you don’t have to rely upon communicating requirements perfectly to somebody who doesn’t have a lot of context for the industry and how the industry works. 

[00:27:04] But, I think that is this thing that has emerged very clearly over the years, especially as the result of people who have committed and invested in Salesforce, maybe haven’t found a ton of success, maybe users get frustrated with what it’s like to use the application, and in many cases commit back to the Salesforce ecosystem and say, maybe there’s a specific partner that understands this a little better and therefore the sort of implementation and configuration of the application will be different. In our case, we’re, OEM/ISV provider that has pre-built, the sort of model to the tune of, nearly 100 objects and all sorts of fields and code and things like that because you come from the industry. But what would you say about that? It’s like when you’re new to a Salesforce consultancy, it’s you learn Salesforce cloud and you learn, object models and things like that.

[00:27:53] What you don’t know that you don’t know at that point is what experience will bring you, but it’s like not everything truly is as simple kind of as an opportunity. And I think sometimes the sort of temptation is for, hey, let’s go buy sales cloud and then hire somebody. And it’s Oh, let’s start with opportunities.

[00:28:12] What’s your experience with that? It’s pretty nuanced in certain industries, maybe not all of them, but certainly in this one.

[00:28:18] Ben McCarthy: I would probably go as far as to say it. It probably is nuanced in every single industry. I remember when I was first starting my consultancy in 2016, and when the first bit of advice I got, and that’s put some drinks with a. Salesforce AE was like, you need to niche down now because we are, and they had just started those conversations.

[00:28:37] I think back in 2016, they were starting to verticalize the AE teams and stuff like that. And after going out into the market and trying to sell into some businesses, it’s very clear that if you have industry experience, you just bring so much more value to the project and to the client.

[00:28:54] We used to work in Private Equity and VCs, and it’s very different to, selling widgets or something like that. I remember when I was in a meeting with a Private Equity company and I was showing them a sales path, where you can add tips in opportunity stages and stuff like that.

[00:29:13] And you can add tips for your salespeople. And the woman just looked at me and just went, our salespeople don’t need any tips, they’re extremely senior. It’s just a silly thing, but it was just like, things like that and just ways of working and what’s important to different businesses.

[00:29:30] I think you know if you put a great consultant with financial service experience and a Great consultant from some other industry and put them both on a financial services project. The one from the consultant who’s never worked on it is going to be a lot worse. It really is because they haven’t made mistakes in other projects, seen what works in other projects.

[00:29:48] So I think that’s just a fact. And I think it’s even more emphasized by the way that Salesforce has acquired velocity and they’ve got all their their different clouds.

[00:29:57] Jeff Williams: These ecosystems take time to evolve. I was talking with my niece over Easter the other day, and she’s telling me she’s learning about ecosystems and is fascinated by the complexity of how they evolve.

[00:30:07] And so this one too in the sense that you got to get all those folks out there, with skills that don’t line up with the traditional computer science, software engineering, get them, just going and trained and, Salesforce Ben comes along and is enabling these people to do amazing things for customers.

[00:30:26] And then there’s this evolution of specialization, and it takes companies maybe having worked with a consultant and realizing what didn’t work and where there wasn’t experience and expertise in deploying that to create opportunities for people with the specialization.

[00:30:46] Certainly, that’s a big part of the story of Altvia too, but it’s actually pretty fascinating. Certainly cannot say that there would have been a better path for Salesforce. It’s working out really quite well for them. Just get it out there. Get it into people’s hands.

[00:31:00] People will learn the evolutions of the ecosystem will create specialization and experience and stuff like that. But then the same folks will, double down on that will, evolve on its own. It’s a pretty fascinating thing. I think Salesforce Ben is a testament to that, of how many people out there did not have the experience, and could not find the resources elsewhere to be able to do these sorts of things that help perpetuate and grow the ecosystem. Is that a fair take to have about your story and your business? Like you said, right place, right time, and really well executed.

[00:31:36] But, that’s the reality of the ecosystem. It’s a fascinating story. Is it fair?

[00:31:42] Ben McCarthy: I definitely think so. I think to your point about niches, it’s something we’re writing a lot about now, the job market is something we’ve written about a lot. And it’s very clear that those with niches are really, standing out and not really struggling at the moment because the Salesforce job market is a bit saturated.

[00:31:58] And yeah, we have grown alongside the Salesforce ecosystem, and every time Salesforce has acquired a different company it’s given us more to write about.

[00:32:07] Jeff Williams: Just from your viewpoint and your experience with Salesforce Ben with being attached to Salesforce over the years, like what will get you most excited these days, a handful of them. Is it the stuff that they’re doing with AI?

[00:32:20] I think 1 thing we hear about quite a bit versus non-Salesforce competitors in our market, which we take for granted is Salesforce’s integration with Outlook, and the whole ecosystem of opportunities there. I saw an interview recently with our friends at Affinity who built an outstanding Salesforce-integrated plugin for Outlook.

[00:32:45] And in fact, we actually partner on that. We think it’s great. Attestment to that. But, what are these sort of things, given your history and evolution what do you stop and be like, wow, this is really cool or really powerful, really differentiated, still a hallmark of, What Salesforce features, whatever it may be?

[00:33:03] Ben McCarthy: I need to preface this by saying that I’m not involved in the technical side of Salesforce much anymore, but obviously I pay attention to everything that’s going on, but I, I think top five have to be flow for obvious reasons. That sales have made it so ridiculously powerful now and you can do so much with it and it’s enabling admins like never before.

[00:33:24] Problem is it’s got a quite a high barrier to entry in terms of learning. It’s definitely not easy, but I think when you get to a point where you can learn it, you’re almost as powerful as a developer, developers are still going to be needed for apex and components.

[00:33:37] But yeah it’s gotta be AI stuff. I think it’s going to be I think it’s gonna be a slow burner. If you compare it to something like, and my third was going to be data cloud. Data cloud is very exciting. TDPs are something that I’ve only just looked into, but I think it’s clear they are the future.

[00:33:52] We are already looking to implement TDPs inside of Salesforce Ben to better understand our audience. You know what they’re interested in, and what webpages are they going on it’s not just about what your name is, what your email address is anymore. It’s how are you interacting with brands.

[00:34:07] We can better target you with information that you’re actually interested in. But data cloud is running at 400 Million in recurring revenue at the moment. And it was only, I think it was crux originally, which was acquired about eight years ago. And it’s had a few different names like CDP, and some other stuff.

[00:34:26] And now it’s been renamed to data clouds and it’s growing at like a hundred percent year on year or something. It’s massive. And, will we see that from AI, the, Einstein, I doubt we’ll see growth that fast, hopefully it will be, that would be amazing.

[00:34:43] And AI and data cloud, go hand in hand because the more data you’ve got about your customers, the better you can personalize the generative outputs or the summarization. Something to add specifically in AI, I would say is you’ve got copilot, which is the chatbot. You’ve got prompt builder, which is building the templated prompts to do the same things for the same users, craft a sales email, or something like that.

[00:35:05] And then you’ve got model builder, which allows you to connect different models. So different LLMs, to different prompts, so if you’ve got a specific prompt which needs a very specific set of data, instead of connecting it to open AI GPT 3.0, which is very generic, a dump of the entire internet. You can go to a financial services LLM, which is specifically built for the private equity industry to do X, Y, Z and you can connect that to that prompt.

[00:35:36] Which is going to carry out something very specific. So yeah those are a few things. Actually, one more just to add on Salesforce have recently released marketing cloud growth, which is a product built on the core Salesforce platform. Pardot now called Marketing cloud account engagement is off-platform, and Marketing Cloud Growth is on-platform and it utilizes flows and features like that. We write a post going, is this a HubSpot killer? Because people love HubSpot because it is really user-friendly. It’s easy to connect to other systems, but, if there’s a HubSpot on the Salesfore platform.

[00:36:16] Marketing cloud growth is completely new.

[00:36:18] Jeff Williams: Super cool. It is really fascinating to hear your story. Having the viewpoint that you’ve had and building a business. Again, I’m just fascinated by the fact that 23 people have jobs and you’re having your 10-year celebration in London next week, that’s going to be a good time there.

[00:36:35] They not only have jobs, they probably have a lot of fulfillment working for you and doing this, and to think of all of the things that went into making that so, and Salesforce’s role in that it’s pretty incredible. And, yet we’re starting to talk still about all of the things that are ahead of it as a company and the opportunities, like you mentioned super cool stuff.

[00:36:57] And, the other thing I was going to say just real quick to wrap this up here is we hear this sort of UI UX thing, obviously, and I have the views on it and the feelings that I do. It’s clear that people feel this way, not just me, and, the ecosystem has evolved to the point where the ability to go specifically into solving that problem are also there and they’re in part provided by Salesforce at the platform level and in part provided by, third parties and the ecosystem partners that are in and around Salesforce.

[00:37:26] To, again, ultimately with all of these things, allow folks to, to be able to get in there, solve specific problems let’s clean up this UX UI thing. And that’s a bit of a plug look out for some announcements from Altvia here shortly on some really exciting stuff we’ve done there on UX UI.

[00:37:47] But just a fascinating story, man. I’m really grateful that you took a minute to walk us through this. I really enjoyed it. And when you were talking about flows, I’ll tell you Salesforce Ben was I too haven’t, done a ton of super technical stuff there, but flows, like you said, were pretty intimidating for a while.

[00:38:03] And the thing that made it less so and got me into it was Salesforce Ben. Bunch of things in parallel and some interconnectedness here. Really cool to hear your story, man. Congratulations on everything related to Salesforce Ben.

[00:38:17] Ben McCarthy: Yeah. Thank you so much, Jeff it was a pleasure to be here. Really good chat.

[00:38:21] Jeff Williams: Thanks for everything you’re doing. Tell your team, thanks, and there are real people out here you know that getting into jobs and learning a lot from you. So we’re all grateful and thanks again for joining me, man.

[00:38:32] Ben McCarthy: All right. Cheers, Jeff. Thanks a lot.

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