It’s been a tough few years for the people of Earth! Having battled the pandemic, more bad news soon arrived in the form of inflation, stock market downturns, and layoffs. According to many, we are heading for (or already in) a recession.
So what does this mean for Salesforce careers? If you’re looking to get into the ecosystem, can you land a job during a recession, and is it even worth trying if Salesforce might not be around in the future? Speculation aside, things look optimistic for Salesforce overall. Whilst I’m no economist or mystic, we can take a look at the facts, as well as what’s being said about Salesforce software.
The Business of Salesforce
Salesforce have built a hugely impressive business over the past two decades, paving the way for other SaaS companies to follow suit. Founded during the dot-com bubble of 1999, they survived the dot-com crash, the Great Recession of 2008, and not only did they come out of the COVID-19 pandemic unscathed, they came out shining!
Having survived the three biggest financial downturns in recent history, you could say this isn’t Salesforce’s first rodeo!
Salesforce’s business is extremely hardy; they don’t provide a point solution to solve a small issue in a business, they sell digital transformation, which in turn, provides huge value.
Salesforce lock customers in for long contracts; as a minimum, this could be one year, but it’s not uncommon to see contracts for three or five years. After all, customers aren’t looking to trial the software, they are looking at this as a long-term strategy.
They commonly use a “Land & Expand” model, looking at one product and use case for a customer (e.g. Sales Cloud), but quickly finding other products that can transform a customer’s business and moving into Service, Marketing, Experience etc. This quickly makes Salesforce a ‘sticky’ product, solidifying them as a key partner for their customers.
Finally, over the past 23 years, Salesforce have been slowly building their market share across all of their products categories. Their most impressive statistic is across the CRM category, where they own 23.9% of the market. To put this into perspective, it’s comparatively similar to the share Samsung and Apple have of the smartphone market, at 28% and 27% respectively.
You can draw a few conclusions from this statistic – mainly that Salesforce continue to win new customers, retain existing customers, beat out their competitors, and innovate their products.
Are Salesforce Careers Recession-Proof?
As we are in the midst of an economic downturn, and possibly even a recession, here’s a question that aspiring – and existing – Salesforce professionals may be asking themselves: Is Salesforce recession-proof?
I think it’s first important to outline what “recession-proof” really means in the context of Salesforce. Recession means an economic slowdown, which affects business revenue and makes it harder to access credit, which can result in layoffs. In this scenario, “recession-proof” means that, in the grand scheme of things, Salesforce careers would remain a relatively stable career choice during a recession.
In my opinion, whether or not Salesforce is recession-proof is related mostly to the performance of Salesforce themselves, as demand for Salesforce professionals is driven purely by the end users that use Salesforce. Admins, consultants, developers, and architects all work for end users in some form or another.
For a recession to affect Salesforce careers, a few things would need to happen. Salesforce would need to sell less products to new or existing customers, placing less demand on the professionals that implement or maintain this software. Alternatively, existing customers would need to start ditching Salesforce as a platform altogether.
Judging by some of the key characteristics mentioned above, Salesforce is a very valuable tool, and pretty ‘sticky’ – meaning that it’s unlikely that end users will start to get rid of it en masse.
However, whilst Salesforce themselves might have a good shot at growing during a recession, it is likely that companies across many other sectors will be hit hard. This will almost certainly result in job losses and bankruptcies – an unavoidable reality for some Salesforce professionals working at end users.
It’s also interesting to listen to what Bret Taylor, Co-CEO of Salesforce, is saying in the video below. He explains that technology is all about productivity and cost saving, which is even more important during an economic downturn.
It’s also relevant to look at Salesforce’s revenue growth over its history. They have been known for their consistent growth year on year, even throughout the 2008 recession and 2020 pandemic. You can compare this with the likes of Oracle, who have had some stagnant years during recent downturns.
You could draw a conclusion that, as long as Salesforce keeps on growing, with customers buying more products and user licenses, this is simply adding fuel to the demand for Salesforce professionals, even during a recession.
One last interesting metric to look at is the funding rounds happening in Salesforce. As economic downturns and recessions happen, it’s harder to get credit as investors become more risk averse. However, this isn’t currently happening in Salesforce.
In the last couple of months, Qualified has raised $95M, Gearset has raised $55, and Blackthorn has brought in $16M of funding. All three of these products are built exclusively for Salesforce, meaning that investors must be bullish on the future growth of these companies (and Salesforce). However, it’s important to note that this isn’t the case for every industry, as Volt, a large Neobank in Australia, is shutting down due to financing issues.
Whilst it’s hard to say definitively whether Salesforce careers are in fact recession-proof (or not), we can draw our own conclusions by looking at the facts. In my opinion, Salesforce has an innovative, sticky product that will help their customers to navigate any economic downturns. If Salesforce ‘the company’ continues to do well, we can assume the wider Salesforce ecosystem will do well too.
However, that’s not to say that you won’t be impacted individually. Whilst it’s unlikely that Salesforce customers will leave the software in droves, it’s entirely possible that, due to circumstances outside your (or your company’s) control, costs need to be reined in, Salesforce licenses reduced or dropped completely, and layoffs made. This is, of course, true of any economic downturn.
Putting this unlikely risk aside, I’m confident that the general Salesforce ecosystem will continue to thrive, and therefore, Salesforce careers will continue to do so too.
Is Salesforce Future-Proof?
Next up, let’s take a look at how future-proof a career in Salesforce really is. I may not have a magic 8 ball, but we can look at the key characteristics of Salesforce as a business to draw some conclusions.
First up, what would it mean for a career in Salesforce not to be future-proof? Well, it means that careers wouldn’t be around in, say, 5-10 years’ time, or perhaps that they would be a lot less lucrative than they are now.
I think it’s fairly safe to say that Salesforce will be around for the foreseeable future; consistent growth, mixed with ‘sticky’ software and long-term customer contracts means that Salesforce isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
However, a big threat could be competitors. Salesforce entered the market back in 1999 with their SaaS offering, competing against very established, on-premise players in the market – think Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP. Back then, it was hard to see how a small startup run out of a 1-bedroom apartment would be beating them at their own game just a few years later.
As SaaS software soon became superior to on-premise solutions, the tide quickly changed – it’s completely possible that the same thing could happen to Salesforce. However, to take away the large market share they have, a huge shift in technology would need to happen. Plus, due to the long contracts and ‘sticky’ nature of the product, this would take many years – maybe even decades.
Salesforce also try to stay at the forefront of innovative tech, and are commonly ranked as the #1 most innovative company in the world – courtesy of Forbes. Salesforce have seen the future before – the introduction of AI tools and Field Service technology are two strong examples.
More recently, Salesforce have introduced the NFT Cloud. Whilst this is controversial, unproven, and speculative technology, a lot of people believe that NFTs have huge future potential.
So overall, there is always a risk that a better product could come along and disrupt Salesforce playing their own game. But based on current growth, trajectory, and Salesforce’s innovative nature, it seems unlikely at this stage.
Regardless of whether or not Salesforce will be around in 10+ years’ time, it’s important to remember that skills required for lots of Salesforce roles are completely transferable. You may not be able to switch over to Oracle and build flows using a comparable tool, but the following skills are still extremely valuable:
- Business analysis
- Analytical thinking
- Architecting solutions
- Project management
- Stakeholder management
- Training users
- Developing algorithms
With an uncertain economic climate in the short-medium term, it’s important to reflect on your career decisions and ensure that you stay relevant. Whilst this article remains fairly optimistic, it’s important to do your research and draw your own conclusions from the information available at any given time.
If you have already been won over by the world of Salesforce, I would recommend diving further into the different ways you can stay relevant in the ever changing Salesforce landscape. Check out the following posts to learn about current trends, as well as how to future-proof your Salesforce career:
- 10 Ways to Future-Proof Your Salesforce Career | Salesforce Ben
- 4 Key Salesforce Job Trends for 2022 | Salesforce Ben
- Ultimate Guide to Getting a Salesforce Job in 2022 | Salesforce Ben