Marketers / Career / Data Cloud

Data + AI + CRM: 3 Imperative Skills for Salesforce Marketers

By Sarah Kelleher

Marketing is not a career path for the faint-hearted. Due to its fast-pace, you need to be ready to wear a lot of hats at once. A combination of rapid developments in technology and constantly shifting trends in our audiences means marketers always need to be on their toes, ready to adapt. And let’s not even get started on trying to remember all the latest Salesforce product name changes…

2024 is no different. We’re moving into the cookieless era, there is more data than ever before and savvy audiences expect even more from their interactions with brands and suppliers. So how can B2B marketers ensure they’re investing their time wisely and building skills that will support their career in the long-run?

The answer lies in three foundational skills: Data + AI + CRM. This isn’t me shamelessly ripping off one of Salesforce’s popular slogans; this really is where the development of the platform is headed – marketers need to build in these areas to ensure their future success in the industry. 


Salesforce has made no secret of the fact that Data Cloud will become the glue that holds together the Customer 360. We’ve come a long way since the first iteration of Salesforce CDP and the Data Cloud of today is a powerhouse with huge potential. 

Several Salesforce Marketing roadmap features require Data Cloud as a prerequisite and connectors are already available for Account Engagement and Marketing Cloud Engagement. 

We don’t all need to rush to become Data Scientists, but marketers will need to understand some foundations of Data Cloud to get to grips with this technology.

  • Data Sources: Understand where your data is coming from, in what format, and how it can be used.
  • Harmonization: Understand how records are from different data sources consolidated into a unified profile
  • Segmentation and Targeting: How to use unified data to build more effective and targeted messages for your audiences.
  • API Basics: Extensibility is a hot topic, so marketers should understand what’s possible with APIs and how to communicate with developers about them.

The good news is that Data Cloud Developer Edition orgs are now available for all Trailhead users. This is a great opportunity to get familiar with the platform and understand how it’s going to fit into your customer lifecycle strategy.


Artificial Intelligence has been on the scene for years, but the prevalence of AI in our everyday lives exploded in late 2022 with the launch of ChatGPT. Since then, barely a week goes by without a new announcement of GPT features for Salesforce. A huge level of investment has gone into this technology and isn’t something that will fall out of fashion next quarter; Marketers will be left behind if they can’t embrace this new capability. 

The key skills B2B marketers need to focus on in this area are:

  • When to use AI – let’s not just hit everything with GPT stick. Be strategic with using these powerful tools to improve efficiency and provide more relevant communications for our audiences. 
  • Trust and security – the power of this new tech can be a little scary at times. It’s critical that marketers learn how to use AI in a trusted, secure and moral way. Understand how data is processed, what is retained and how models learn to ensure your customers’ data is treated correctly. 
  • Learn the language – don’t know your LLM from your NLP? In order to collaborate with other business functions to build great solutions with AI, you need to know the basic terminology.

Fortunately, the AI Associate credential from Salesforce covers all of these points as a great starting point. The Spring ‘24 release has a bunch of shiny, new generative AI capability for Account Engagement, so marketers can start flexing their AI muscles right away and build those skills for the future. 

READ MORE: Salesforce AI Associate Certification Guide & Tips


Salesforce aren’t hiding their ambitions to bring more of their acquired platforms truly onto core. There are plans to consolidate their many marketing platforms and bring the best of all the tools together on the core Salesforce platform. Account Engagement users already have a hybrid working environment, with campaign management, user management, reporting and email building taking place in Salesforce Lightning.

The release of Marketing Cloud Growth edition in Spring further signals Salesforce’s intention to move in this direction and we should be ready to take advantage of that.

READ MORE: Salesforce Announce Marketing Cloud Edition Built on the Core Platform

To really build a connected experience across the customer’s lifecycle, marketers need to connect the dots between all stages of the funnel. Working more in the CRM will be the future of this alignment. 

Learning Salesforce is a daunting task, but these are the areas I would recommend starting with to ensure you’re ready for the future of marketing on the Salesforce platform:

  • Object structure
  • Basic terminology
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Permissions
  • Automation tools

Marketers need to make sure they are comfortable with the overall structure and tools available in Sales Cloud to make the most of these new features and align themselves with the customer journey. The Salesforce Associate certification Trailmix is the perfect place to start.


The Salesforce Marketing ecosystem is definitely set to undergo a huge amount of change in 2024 and beyond. By building a foundation of strong core competencies in Data, AI, and CRM, marketers will ensure they can adapt to with whatever’s set to come.

The Author

Sarah Kelleher

Sarah is the Customer Success Director at Nebula Consulting and has been a certified Pardot & Salesforce consultant since 2014.


    Jason King
    March 06, 2024 5:49 pm
    Thank you for this great article Sarah! I really appreciate how you categorized the skills and provided links to learning paths so marketers can take action. Well done!

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