What’s in it to partner with Salesforce? That’s the question we will discuss today. Joining Joe Welu in this episode is the Vice President of Partner Ecosystem at Total Expert, Patrick Hanley. Bringing with them from the Dreamforce Conference are some of their key takeaways from Salesforce’s largest event. Patrick shares the trend of AI and how Salesforce continues to invest in them. Joe shares the importance of the trust layer in the data. Let’s join Patrick and Joe in today’s conversation to find value in partnering with Salesforce.
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Key Takeaways On The Dreamforce Conference: Partnering With Salesforce To Solve Current Market Challenges With Patrick Hanley
I am super excited to be joined by Patrick Hanley, our VP of Partner Ecosystems. Patrick and I are going to download and give you our key takeaways from our attendance at the Dreamforce Conference. Before we do that, Patrick, you had wanted to ask me a little bit about our partnership with Salesforce. I wanted to give you the opportunity to do that on the show.
I appreciate it, Joe. First and foremost, thank you for having me on. Thanks to our audience. I’m super excited to share what we learned and what we took away from Salesforce’s largest conference in Dreamforce. To that point, it’s super important that people understand why Total Expert would be wanting to partner with Salesforce. From your perspective as the mortgage expert FinTech leader, what do you think is in it for Total Expert to partner with Salesforce?
I have been asked this a fair bit lately, and it was simple. When we first started talking about it, it was from the lens of, “How do we make the most impact for our customers?” The big banks that we work with, the lenders that we work with, and the insurance companies, how do we make the biggest impact for those organizations?
Oftentimes, making the biggest impact isn’t one size versus another, or isn’t one technology versus another. It’s looking at their particular scenario. As an example, there are many of the organizations that we partner with that have complex enterprise needs that Salesforce is uniquely positioned to solve for. We are, at the same time, very uniquely positioned to solve some important high-value use cases, that last mile of functionality.
If you think about all of the compliance and the way that we enable the salespeople at the ground level with content marketing, communication, and sales capabilities, and the way Salesforce manages end-to-end enterprise systems in so many cases, particularly in upmarket financial institutions, it was about how we come together and help the customer unlock more value. What was cool and to get into a little bit of some of the conversations we had at Dreamforce, we met with a lot of the team from financial services at Dreamforce. I wanted to say thank you to all of the folks from Salesforce who were so gracious and welcoming to us. That was cool to see their mindset.
What we started realizing and I expected this, but it hit me, is their open-mindedness around, “How do we solve the problems that the customers are dealing with now?” Sure, we’re going to have overlap in certain places, but there’s a whole bunch of areas where they need both capabilities and we can be a 1 plus 1 equals 5, kind of a force multiplier for those certain customers. It’s about that.
For some of the customers, we’ve got 2 top 5 banks now that we work with that are both Salesforce plus Total Expert customers. We’re doing some cool things. The thing that drives me is ultimately unlocking value and helping those customers win. When we can come together and do that bigger and Better Together than individually, it makes a hell of a lot of sense.
The better-together story is always what we’re seeking out. It is about offering the best solution for our joint customers. I 100% agree with that. This was your first Dreamforce, was it not, Joe?
It was. I’ve never been to San Francisco Dreamforce. There’s no other conference like it in the world that I’ve been to. You were right, incredible experience. The incredible energy that they put into a conference is unmatched in terms of scale and scope. What I found most enjoyable is the amount of conversations we were able to have with both customers and prospects in addition to executives and team members at Salesforce as well as other ecosystem partners. I enjoyed the entire experience. No question.
It is the largest software show in the world, so definitely a good spot for Total Expert to be.
Salesforce is doing so many interesting things technology-wise now. Many of which are relevant to us and what we do. Many are complimentary to what we do and the problems we’re trying to solve. It would be helpful if we gave the audience some of our takeaways. I’ll maybe start with you about some of the takeaways that we took from the conference and share them with the audience.
There are three key things I would point out, AI across everything. This was a recurring message that it didn’t matter which session you were in or which conversation you were having. If you were in the Yerba Buena Center or if you were in the local pub, everybody was still talking about AI and how that was pervasive across everything. Salesforce had a bunch of different announcements around it, but it was around the story of data, AI, CRM, and trust. Salesforce has done a tremendous job leading with that across the board. That was one of my largest takeaways.
Next, they being Salesforce has continued to invest in financial services. They’ve been in this space for many years and eight years on the financial services cloud. They continue to show this technology and adapt it to the financial services customers to make that experience better. It was exciting to talk to some of the executives inside of Salesforce and hear about what’s coming and how we can work with them to deliver that through the Better Together story.
What was interesting to me was the sheer magnitude of the impact that AI has. It is a lot of the things that we were able to listen in on. There are lots of promising things that are happening now, but what is exciting is what’s possible going forward. One of the takeaways that I had was the importance of the trust layer around the data. Every executive, me included, every CEO is thinking through exactly how to leverage and bring value to our people and our customers with AI and gen AI. Undeniably, you have to be doing things there. The approach they’re taking is the absolute approach I agree with, which is it’s not reasonable as an enterprise.
We cater to enterprise customers, financial services obviously, which are heavily regulated very much about privacy and trust. The way they have thought through how to protect customer data and not feed it into these large language models at random and train those models, but it’s going to be about harnessing proprietary data sets inside of these businesses and then infusing AI capabilities into those proprietary data sets to produce insights, outcomes, and additional benefits that would not have otherwise been possible. That was a key takeaway for me.
Also, tying it across all the different clouds, and then even into Slack, and how it builds upon itself. To your point, it’s all coming from those trusted large language models that they’ve directed it from.
The thing that I found cool also is Salesforce is not coming out and saying, “We’re building the best in the world large language model.” They have some great models of their own, I believe. They had the awareness to realize that that’s not necessarily always going to be the best fit for each individual customer. Those customers are maybe going to want to use some of the large language models that Salesforce offers, but they also might want to be able to swap in and out other models that they tune on their own, so their own proprietary model.
They’ve set the foundation, and there are some ways that even Total Expert is planning to take advantage of this approach. “You as an institution want to have real proprietary intellectual property value that you can create with your own data set. The best way to do that is taking some of the open source models, bringing them in-house, having your data segregated, and then being able to use your own models plus augment them with other very specific models, maybe for content or marketing messaging and things like that.” They’ve thought about that whole landscape. I thought it was well through.
AI is not new to Salesforce by any stretch of the imagination. They’ve been talking about it for years, and that’s why data’s the foundation of everything that they’re doing there. The way they’ve tied it all together now is impressive.
I want to recap. I won’t mention names for confidentiality because I don’t think we have permission to mention some of these names. Some of the exec conversations we had with Salesforce that I found pretty encouraging and exciting was we’ve made a big investment in customer intelligence for our financial services customers. These are very specific data sets that we have procured. Some we have internally that are able to provide insights into a consumer’s financial journey and where they’re at in their various milestones.
I was excited about how excited some of the leadership team at Salesforce was about the potential of taking Total Expert’s customer intelligence and utilizing it inside of Salesforce. Give me your perspective because I know we’re doing ongoing improvements to our Salesforce app, but I know that’s been getting some traction. Give me your thoughts and feedback on the potential that we see with customer intelligence inside Salesforce.
What we’re doing now is Total Expert for Salesforce lives on the Salesforce AppExchange. Our most recent version, bi-directional communication, includes customer intelligence. We have customer intelligence already built into that integration. We’re adding that value now. To your point, in some of these conversations that we had with the executives at Salesforce at the show, you could see the light bulb go on.
They got it and they understand the value that we add now, even with it being credit at this very moment. We then started talking about the roadmap and what’s coming with customer intelligence, and you started talking about life events. That was where the energy kept growing because that can tie into the financial services cloud in a way that is going to be game-changing for our joint customers.
The bullseye for me is, correct me if I’m wrong or if I misinterpreted anything, Salesforce Financial Services Cloud has these icons inside of it that are for life events and consumer milestones. One of the things that we are heavily invested in, we’ve brought some of it to market, and we’re bringing the rest of it to market here in the coming months. It’s the ability to automatically and dynamically populate those life events with the customer intelligence sources that we have.
The light bulb for me was when I started asking, “How are most of the customers using Salesforce Financial Services Cloud now populating those different life events?” what came back to me both from customers and Salesforce is that a lot of times, they’re having to do it manually. It was super exciting to hear that we were going to be able to add some value there for a lot of customers who are thinking through, “At the moments that matter in somebody’s financial journey, how do we make sure we’re offering the right products?” The best way to do that is not to rely on if the customer tells you they’re getting married or getting divorced, but having intent data flowing into those fields. If I’m interpreting that correctly, that’s probably some of the biggest potentials I see there.
You knocked the nail on the head there with your takeaway. The number of times those fields are getting updated manually is a huge miss. That’s where the opportunity is that we’re bringing. I’m super excited about it. It was cool to see the reaction from the Salesforce executives that we are talking to get excited about it as well.
I love the mentality and the flexibility of what I call this growth mindset. It wasn’t like, “That’s too close to what we do.” It was like, “What’s the best way to add a ton of value for this particular bank and this particular lender?” The conversations were focused there and they immediately got those use cases. I came away encouraged by the potential there.
That’s a good segue into what Salesforce has built with their whole ecosystem. You talk about the AppExchange and everything that they have there. AppExchange was created back in 2005, so this has been something that they’ve been thinking about as, “We can’t serve all of our customers on our own and we need to rely on partners to be able to offer that through Better Together solution, which is best for the customers.” They’ve been thinking about this for a long time, but it’s grown to the point now where there are 150,000 different customers who are using Salesforce, 7,000 different partners or solutions that live inside that AppExchange, and 400 of which are in the financial services space.
It is limitless extensibility and limitless optionality in solving important use cases that are high-value use cases. From our lens, those are use cases that don’t make sense for Salesforce. As an example, it’s not going to make sense for Salesforce to develop these customer intelligence insights, marketing, and sales enablement capabilities for a home equity scenario. They’re not going to go to that last mile. That’s where we live. We live that last mile every day.
The AppExchange, for me, there were all kinds of products in there, but the ones that do well, and I think we’re exceptionally well-positioned there, solve these very specific problems. The customer gets the benefit of not having to custom-develop lots of these things. We heard this from some of the customers. I talked to an insurance prospect and a banking customer, and they were like, “Technically, we could custom-dev a bunch of these things, but that’s awesome that we don’t have to. You guys did that work.” We can focus those resources on other high-value things that are more proprietary for their organizations, and then they can get out of the gate quickly, fast time to value with partners like Total Expert.
Instead of spending months doing the development of that integration between Total Expert and Salesforce, they can get it off the shelf with the AppExchange solution. It’s a huge value add. We’re maintaining it, but we’re continuing to develop and iterate on it. We’ve got a roadmap that we’re working directly with Salesforce on how we can make that better for our joint customers going forward.
One of the conversations I want to expand on a little bit that we had with the leadership team at Salesforce is how they are focusing on working with these institutions, in some cases, our mutual customers, where their focus is versus where our focus is. It would be helpful for our audience to understand that. Walk us through your interpretation of that.
I break it down into two different elements. I think of it as the back office, which is the foundational technology that’s being used behind the scenes, and then the frontline. This ties into that last-mile story that we have.
When you say the frontline, you’re talking about the humans out in the market who are dealing with consumers one-on-one and face-to-face. I’m an organization. I’ve got branches, locally distributed agents, loan officers, and advisors all over the country. I need to enable them. That’s what you mean by front of the house.
Yes. Salesforce’s focus, and we saw several demos around it, and this is their bread and butter is that back office operation. When we talked about the data, the AI, the CRM, and the trust, that’s all going in that back office. Our bread and butter at Total Expert has always been that frontline, those distributed workers. It was clear in the conversations and the demos. Why we do have that Better Together story is that those two different groups.
I look at it like this. You’ve got all the AI and all the technology in the world, but the power of human connection, the power of a highly qualified professional, being able to give advice to that consumer in the moments that matter, that’s still important to a lot of these businesses. That’s where we play. That human-to-human customer engagement communication, educating them with content and marketing collateral, and things like that in those moments that matter. Also, partnering and pairing that with all of that back office orchestration, the data, and whatnot that happens there. It combines for a powerful story.
It clicked for some of the individuals in the room from the Total Expert side on some of these conversations, but on the Salesforce side, that completes that story.
Those are exciting stuff. Thanks for the invite to go out. You were the one who pinged me here a month ago and said, “Let’s go to Dreamforce.” I said, “Okay.” I’m super glad you did. Thanks for the invite and thanks for all of the awesome takeaways. I agree 100% that the future has never been more exciting. Some of these things are going to be a lot of fun to go out and see develop over these next couple of quarters.
Thanks for coming out. It was a fun week. San Francisco looked good and the weather was perfect. There were lots of great conversations. Good energy there, for sure.
Let’s keep the momentum going. Thanks so much for coming on the show.
Thank you for having me.
About Patrick Hanley
Patrick is the Vice President of Partner Ecosystems at Total Expert, the leading fintech platform for the mortgage, banking, and insurance industries. His mission is to build and scale our ecosystem with strategic partners, such as Salesforce & AWS, marketplace partners through creating purpose-built offerings for our joint customers, and creating pipeline and scaling deals through our industry thought and technology leaders that enhance customer experience and loyalty. He is passionate about leveraging his Product Marketing, Product Management, and Sales expertise to create value for our partners and customers and to position Total Expert as the preferred platform for modern financial institutions.