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Q&A: Salesforce’s Nicole Granucci on Trailblazer Summit Event

We are living in a new world with information sharing taking place at a scale never seen before. Given this, brands need to be co-creating alongside their customers, influencers and advocates. In this new world, there are customer innovators, technology disruptors and global shapers — whether it’s a Salesforce admin/developer, a CEO or anybody in between. These are our Trailblazers, and they are propelling our technology forward, gaining new skills, landing new jobs and advancing in their careers. These Trailblazers are the future of Salesforce, and we are constantly looking for creative ways to connect them with each other, to bring them into the fold, and to tell our story through their success.

The latest example of this was last week’s Trailblazer Summit. Hosted at Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, the inaugural summit saw more than 130 of our Trailblazers gather across different lines of business – Service, Sales, Analytics, Platform, Marketing, Commerce, Community, as well as SMBs. Attendees had the opportunity to meet peers across industries, connect with Salesforce executives, provide direct feedback on product roadmaps, get exclusive previews of Dreamforce 2019, and learn a wide array of skills via training on public speaking, how to deliver workshops, and how to engage with local community groups effectively.

Senior Director of Product Marketing Nicole Granucci was one of the core team members that brought this event to life. We caught up with her to hear how it went.

Community engagement is a key part of your role at Salesforce, how did you come to it? How is it rewarding – and what are some of the challenges?

Building a community is hard to do from ground zero. I started in 2017 by taking a look at where we’ve been successful as a company, and applying those learnings specifically for my area of focus – Service Cloud. I spoke with customers, and all were eager to connect more deeply with each other to share best practices. We then built out the community, helping curate meaningful and authentic content for its members along the way. The challenge then became keeping the engagement going – and getting our customers to engage with the community in a structured way on our behalf.

I am happy to report that it’s working really well. We are now at the stage where we have customers across the world getting involved in our community programs, creating new career pathways for themselves and their peers, and effectively becoming the next generation of leaders shaping our industry.

How did the Trailblazer Summit come to life? What did you hope to achieve?

We knew our end-user community members didn’t really have a means to connect in person to address the issues facing their respective industries. We also knew we wanted to make Trailblazers even more of an integral part of Dreamforce this year – but to do that, we needed to train our customers to be thought leaders, influencers, and strong speakers.

As Salesforce employees we are incredibly fortunate to have the speaker training, writing, and thought leadership guidance to make us the best in the business. And we asked, “What if we took this same approach/training and gave it to our customers?” And so the idea for the Trailblazer Summit was born, as a way to give our next generation of emerging Trailblazers a way to connect with each other and to learn key leadership skills that will help them rise as business leaders and become change agents in their own communities.

We want to give this first “Trailblazer Summit Class of 2019” the ability to inspire others. We want to build a broader army of advocates that goes beyond Salesforce admins and developers and includes new end user personas like customer service agents, e-commerce managers and sales leaders. And we intend to kick this off starting with Dreamforce ‘19, then extend the program throughout additional events on an ongoing basis.

Can you talk a bit about the range of Trailblazer community members you encountered? Do any of their stories particularly stand out? Anything that really resonated, that might have been novel or even counter-intuitive?

Julie O’Donnell’s story is especially inspiring to me because she represents the new era of Trailblazer who reaches far beyond their “day job.” A self-taught Trailhead Ranger and certified admin, Julie built a contact center from the ground up, implemented Service Cloud in record time after a Zendesk rip and replace, hired and trained a team of agents, and is now being asked to step up and lead new areas of responsibility for her employer, Timetrade. As we consider what the “super managers” and “super agents” of the future will be doing as traditional contact center roles evolve, I believe it will be more along the lines of the role Julie has created for herself, with a pathway for her team to develop consultative skills, business acumen, and soft skills to effectively manage up or down.

Can you share a few notable Trailblazer reactions to the Summit?

In an event survey, attendees said they were most excited about networking with their fellow Trailblazers, training to take their thought leadership skills to the next level, and figuring out how they could engage and participate in Dreamforce 2019.

Anecdotally, we received a lot of positive feedback from Trailblazers about the opportunity to meet Salesforce executives, and managers were excited to gain new skills that they could then impart to their workforce as they look to adapt to the 4th industrial revolution.

For those of you who didn’t get to attend, check out the opening keynote and panel discussion from this year’s Trailblazer Summit in this video.


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