As Executive Vice President and CEO of Essentials and SMB, Meredith Schmidt is responsible for creating products that help small businesses take advantage of the Salesforce Platform to grow their businesses. Meredith was previously the Executive Vice President in charge of global revenue operations at Salesforce, managing the sales operations, compensation, and product and enablement teams, reporting directly to the CFO. Meredith lives in San Francisco, and enjoys cooking, travelling, and spending time with her King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Baxter.
You’ve been with Salesforce for almost 15 years now. Throughout the years, you’ve seen Salesforce grow into a striving organization that is now top of its industry. How does it feel to be part of a company that was once a small business itself and is now part of the “big boys”?
It still feels the same which is pretty incredible. I joined the company when there were 600 employees, and now we’re over 30,000. It’s really humbling growing from a small business to $13 billion in revenue. But the amazing thing is that it still feels like we’re a small company with an incredible culture. We just hit our 20-year anniversary this year. I feel grateful to be with Salesforce and for the difference we’ve made throughout the years – I’m proud to be a part of it.
Salesforce is a big supporter of Canadian startups. What impact do you believe startups have on the Canadian economy and business industry?
One of my favourite statistics – 98% of businesses in Canada is categorized as SMEs. The other amazing statistic is that 1/3 of those businesses are women owned. It’s vital that big organizations support the growth and are collectively driving forward. We’re here to help and there are so many resources that are available to small businesses that they don’t know about. Salesforce doesn’t just offer technology but we offer guidance. Customer success isn’t just about buying our product but about helping to make our customers successful.
We have invested $100 million in the “Canada Trailblazer Fund” – to help foster growth and innovation. Our ventures team has been amazing – they have guided and worked with the startups to achieve success.
You’re just a few months shy of your one-year anniversary as Executive Vice President and General Manager of Essentials and SMB at Salesforce. What has this first year been like for you?
Terrifying and exciting all at the same time! It’s been a year of learning for me. I’ve seen that the same issues that existed for SMEs 14 years ago still exist today. It’s about listening to our customers. My job was to launch a startup within Salesforce. We’re launching a business unit here and we brought all functions of the company together – marketing, sales, product, and customer success in order to help SMEs. My favourite part is walking around my neighborhood and talking with small business owners about their needs. I have made it my mission that if I can solve my dog groomer’s business problems, I can solve a lot of small business owners’ problems.
Where do you see the Canadian small business industry going and what role will Salesforce play in it?
The SME owners are increasingly female, younger and better educated than in the past.
When using Salesforce tech or any tech for that matter, the technology is there to help you do the job. There are a lot of spreadsheets and posted notes. This is really about easy task management. You don’t want to spend your time on repetitive tasks but let technology do that for you. Everything we build at Salesforce is made to be easy to use and to allow small businesses to benefit from the innovation of the largest companies, so they can work smarter and better.
What is the main purpose of Salesforce Essentials? How will it help small business owners grow their business?
We really built a product that incorporated the feedback from our customers – ease of use. When we originally built Salesforce, we wanted it to become as easy to use as Amazon. We want to offer a solution that’s out of the box and easy to set up. Your first call from us will not be from a sales representative but from a customer success rep who is there to make sure everything has been set up properly and that you are enjoying the product.
Beginning with the Salesforce platform lets you start with us and grow with us. As you grow your business, Salesforce grows with you. There’s no moving your data. Everything moves and grows with you to help make you successful as a small business.
Can you tell us about some of the small business solutions that Salesforce offers to help entrepreneurs grow their business?
We’re constantly evaluating and learning from data and analytics and using it to test and augment the experience. Experience is as important as features. It’s got to add value to our day.
You may not necessarily know where you want to evolve as a small business but we’re here to help you get the job done.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge that Canadian small businesses face and how can Salesforce help them overcome it?
It’s time and resources. As a small business owner, you want to be spending your time with your customers. You’re constantly wearing multiple hats and this takes your efforts away from the other important things that need to get done. Tech can make their lives easier with solutions like Salesforce. Embracing technology is essential as a business owner. We’re making the tech as easy to use in your business as it is in your personal life. Salesforce in particular helps the customer not have to stitch 10 pieces of technology together. We want to provide one platform for them to drive their entire business.
On a final note, what is the best advice that you received in your professional career that has helped shape your professional life?
I’ll start with a bad piece of advice that I was once given: It was to hold back. It became the best and worst advice because there was a message there to listen. What came out of that was really listening and slowing down. I tend to go fast and want speed. My personality is very fast paced, and I want things done yesterday. When I think about my professional and personal life, it helped me slow down and really truly listens. It allowed me to start asking questions and taking the time to really understand.
Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, empowers companies to connect with their customers in a whole new way. Salesforce has headquarters in San Francisco, with offices in Europe and Asia, and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “CRM.” For more information about Salesforce, visit: www.salesforce.com.