The start of each new year is an exciting time for Salesforce professionals. We have the Spring ‘24 release right around the corner, new year goals we are looking forward to crushing, and the start of the annual Salesforce news cycle, bringing new features, announcements, and advancements in the CRM space.
This is the eighth year we have published our Salesforce Job Trends post, previously highlighting trends such as Lightning, Marketing Cloud, GDPR, and other big movements in the Salesforce ecosystem.
Whilst every year brings exciting trends to look forward to, there have been notable challenges in 2023 that will spill over into this year. Most notably, an economic technology downturn that has resulted in layoffs, as well as growth slowing in the Salesforce ecosystem. But before diving into our six trends that will shape the industry in 2024, let’s take a quick look at 2023…
Looking Back on 2023
Last year was a challenge not only for the Salesforce ecosystem but also for the wider technology community. Due to the massive increase in technology adoption during the pandemic, companies like Salesforce and Zoom rode the wave, posting record growth quarter after quarter.
Companies had a ‘grow at all costs’ mentality and hired huge numbers of employees to keep up with demand. Salesforce had a total of 79,000 employees in February 2022, which was a 30% increase from 2020.
This huge demand for technology spurred a natural demand for skilled technology professionals to operate these systems. Even prior to this surge in demand, companies in the Salesforce ecosystem always struggled to hire skilled professionals. Salesforce was, and to some extent is still, a niche technology company. You would never find a student in school or a college graduate who wanted to become a Salesforce professional due to how niche the roles were.
However, since 2015, Salesforce have been trying to change this through Trailhead and their Trailblazer movement. Highlighting many of the inspiring stories of individuals who have changed their lives from skilling up on Trailhead and landing a well-paid tech job. This has worked extremely well for Salesforce and the many individuals who have successfully switched careers. But it has perhaps worked too well, as the one word on many Salesforce job seekers’ minds in 2023 was “saturation”.
Cut to 2022 and 2023, and the world looked very different. War, inflation, and economic instability drove massive uncertainty in the markets. This resulted in less growth and less spending, with companies being much more protective of where they spent their money and, in many cases, needed to lay off employees.
This started to hit the ecosystem hard when Salesforce announced they would be laying off 10% of their workforce nearly exactly a year ago. Salesforce have since announced that they will be hiring 3,300 employees due to sustained growth in a troubled market.
Although the economic situation in 2023 wasn’t ideal for many, Salesforce has fared surprisingly well. CEO & Founder, Marc Benioff, fought off activist investors trying to take control of the company, and they have sustained healthy growth whilst increasing profitability, and have made major strides in the AI Wars.
1. Ecosystem Layoffs
Unfortunately, 2023 was a big year for layoffs in the tech industry – TechCrunch estimates that 240,000 jobs were lost in 2023, which is 50% higher than 2022. Although Salesforce have not announced any new rounds of layoffs since last year, there has been a constant trickle of layoffs in the Salesforce ecosystem, including end-users, AppExchange companies, and Salesforce consultancies.
These layoffs are not public, and you will rarely see a press release or news article announcing them, but they are happening. Whilst there were a few rounds of layoffs at some larger ISVs at the start of 2023, it seems there has been another round in the past two months. I was personally contacted by individuals from four large ISVs in quick succession, which prompted my LinkedIn status to highlight this.
Just to be clear – this is the minority of companies in the Salesforce ecosystem. It is not a precursor to the impending collapse of the ecosystem and is very much a mirror image of what is happening in the wider technology industry.
Although Reddit isn’t exactly a journalistic source that is commonly cited, there is an interesting thread chatting about people’s current experiences with layoffs that is worth a read for anyone who is interested.
Whilst I don’t relish in pointing this out for our first trend of 2024, there is no point in dodging the issue, and I hope that it may help you in any important decisions you are making. Here is a comprehensive list of all layoffs happening in the tech industry.
2. Job Market Saturation
Another Salesforce trend that is the talk of the ecosystem is whether the Salesforce job market is saturated or not. Of course, this is an impossible question to give a definitive answer to, but from our research and from talking to job seekers, we’ve concluded that it probably is the case.
Many factors have led to this point that we’ve covered in this article so far, but in summary…
- Salesforce’s revenue growth has halved from around 20% to 11%, and this will have a trickle-down effect on all Salesforce ecosystem companies.
- A huge influx of entry-level Salesforce talent has entered the ecosystem, all hoping to land roles.
- Layoffs in the ecosystem will typically mean there is more talent searching for roles, therefore increasing competition.
- Salesforce has also gotten more complicated over the years (technical debt, Flow, multi-cloud), meaning that employers expect more from their hires.
This isn’t great news for entry-level talent, who typically are looking to get their first foothold in the industry. Whilst a few years ago, jobs could be landed with just an Admin certification, employers now want experience, and this is the classic frustrating chicken and egg scenario that Salesforce and some of their training partners are trying to solve.
This is less worrying for job seekers who have a good amount of Salesforce experience; as you can see from one of my recent LinkedIn statuses, there is plenty of hiring going on.
For those looking for some light at the end of the tunnel, it’s hard to say when more roles will open up. This will be dependent on the global economy and when the next phase of growth comes. I believe that those looking for entry-level positions will have their chance when this phase of growth comes, but my guess would be as good as anyone’s about when that comes. Artificial intelligence is set to boost the global economy by $15.7T by 2023, and Salesforce is at the heart of this transformation.
3. Artificial Intelligence
For those who got a bit sick of the AI updates in 2023, hopefully, the December break gave you a bit of a rest, as I have no doubt it will be the talk of the town throughout 2024.
Artificial intelligence is set to revolutionize every industry on the planet. In a study by Harvard, they reported 12.2% more tasks completed, 25% faster, and produced 40% higher quality results. As a Salesforce professional, you are at the forefront of this new technology, which I’ll explain more about below.
While we have been hit with constant waves of AI announcements since ChatGPT was released in November 2022, many of us are yet to get our hands on any features built on the Salesforce platform.
However, Salesforce have announced an incredible amount of features and tools that will be released at some point. There are many out-of-the-box features such as sales email generation, service replies, and subject line generation, but just as Flow has revolutionized the impact Salesforce professionals can have on automating business processes, I think the most exciting tool will be the Copilot Studio.
The Copilot Studio allows you to build templated prompts that will interact with some of Salesforce’s out-of-the-box features above but also allows you to build completely custom prompts, interacting with your automated business processes on Salesforce. They have also announced new AI Search and Vector database support, enabling you to upload huge amounts of unstructured data such as PDFs, emails, audio files, and social media posts, allowing you to search and glean insights.
I explored how AI will impact the Salesforce ecosystem in this article a few months ago, summarizing that Salesforce professionals will be exposed to the following areas…
- Supporting internal Salesforce users with the use of these tools.
- Supporting external customer-facing tools, such as chatbots.
- Using AI-powered development tools as well as those created by Salesforce ISVs.
- Implementing all of the above at your company or for your clients if you work at a consultancy.
There is a huge opportunity for all companies and all industries; however, as we are attached to Salesforce, we are placing ourselves at the center of this transformation.
My advice for AI? Try to keep up with the swathes of information coming out of the wider technology ecosystem, especially Salesforce. Generative AI is very much in its infancy, and although some people might try to tell you that you’re going to lose your job to AI tomorrow unless you buy their course, we are yet to see any of Salesforce’s most transformational AI products.
4. Niches Are Still Queen
For the past couple of years, we have highlighted Salesforce niches as the surefire way to level up your Salesforce career and command a higher salary. This is even more relevant in 2024 in light of some of the previous trends, so I am adding it for a third year in a row!
In a nutshell, typically, the vast majority of people in the Salesforce ecosystem will be proficient in Sales and Service Cloud – these are Salesforce’s two largest and most prominent products. It could also be argued that these are the easiest to learn, as there are so many free resources, such as Trailhead, that can help improve your skills.
Niche skills in the Salesforce ecosystem will include CPQ, Salesforce Industries, OmniStudio, Tableau, and Data Cloud.
These features and products don’t have the same amount of resources and are typically more challenging to learn. Not only because there is a lack of resources, but these products are highly specialized, and many will struggle to learn without a mentor or actual on-project experience.
With that being said, there is a massive opportunity. Salaries and demand for these roles continue to grow.
It’s also worth noting that Salesforce is selling some of these products at a faster rate than the core sales and service platform. Just take a look at this table from Q3 earnings back in November ‘23 and note the growth of data. I can’t confirm for sure whether Data Cloud is included in the data category, but Salesforce have said many times that Data Cloud is the fastest-growing product in its history.
For more information about some of the top Salesforce niches around, check out our video on 10 Salesforce Niches to Learn in 2024.
5. Salesforce Product Diversification
Salesforce’s sales motto for many years has been “land and expand”, selling a customer one of their products and then slowly exposing them to more transformational products. Salesforce has accelerated this mission over the past ten years. Prior to 2013, their flagship products were Sales and Service Cloud, as well as Force.com (or the Salesforce Platform as it’s known now).
Fast forward to today, and Salesforce competes in product categories including marketing, business intelligence (Tableau), CDP (Data Cloud), AI, commerce, integration (MuleSoft), and many other categories.
Whilst this won’t be new to many reading this, Salesforce is also diversifying within each of these categories. Marketing Cloud is a prime example here with email, SMS, website automation, and loyalty management.
Salesforce has also just acquired Spiff, a commission management solution that will slot nicely into its Sales Cloud offerings alongside other tools, such as Sales Engagement and Revenue Intelligence. Spiff will compete with the likes of Xactly, who have been a long-time Salesforce partner and, in 2019, generated $288M in revenue, not exactly peanuts.
The reason this is relevant is that Salesforce’s niches are becoming the norm. As Salesforce continues its “land and expand” model, new sub-niches will pop up all the time. Can we even imagine what the artificial intelligence landscape will look like in five years? We might have dedicated Salesforce roles specializing in AI, such as an AI Developer or AI Architect.
6. The Salesforce Influencer Market
Influencers across the world are starting to shape the new world of media. Instead of buying a book to find new recipes, hiring a personal trainer to motivate you, or learning essentially any new skill the traditional way, people are turning to influencers on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms.
Last week, I created a poll on LinkedIn to ask if people had considered becoming a Salesforce Influencer, and the results and comments kickstarted some interesting insights.
One clear consensus was that people hate the term “influencer”, which I completely understand. The term does invoke thoughts of mindless content begging for likes with TikTokers dancing in the street, and the Instagram page “Influencers in the Wild” perfectly captures this. People would rather be an educator or someone who guides people through their Salesforce journey, such as a mentor.
The reason this is relevant to the Salesforce ecosystem is that B2B influencing is on the rise. It’s already enabling many people in the Salesforce ecosystem to leave their jobs and create content full-time.
This is a dream for many, that soon could be a reality. But to become a full-time content creator, you need to generate revenue. Course sales are one of the first ways people tend to generate revenue, which has been perfected by influencers like Miss Excel, who has nearly a million Instagram followers and generates $2M a year through her viral TikToks.
In the Salesforce world, there are a notable number of influencers who have gone full-time with their course sales or content creation, but there are many other opportunities. One of these is partnering with B2B brands, which are starting to massively increase their budget to spend on influencers. In one survey, Ogilvy reported that 93% of CMOs are planning to increase their usage of influencers in some form, and 75% of B2B marketers are already utilizing influencers.
Salesforce already has a mature influencer market, with many Salesforce MVPs, user group leaders, bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, and speakers who travel the world (one of whom has spoken at 20 events!). My prediction is that this influencer market will grow exponentially. We will see more niche influencers focussing on a variety of different Salesforce products and disciplines, with Salesforce DevOps and Flow being advanced examples of some already established sub-niches.
Because of this, we are launching the Creator Program at Salesforce Ben to help educate our fellow ecosystem members on how to create content, increase your following, and ensure you are being ethical at all times. We are also starting to connect B2B brands with individuals to reward their content creation efforts.
The Salesforce ecosystem is constantly evolving, and there is never a dull moment. 2024 will have its fair share of challenges, but the opportunities are always abundant.
These job trends have been generated from my research and conversations over the past few months, and I hope they have highlighted some important areas that may affect your career or decisions in 2024. But as always, do your own research and have your own conversations with people in your network. My experiences and conversations may be completely different from yours, depending on your local community.
So, although I feel it’s important to talk about some of the more negative aspects of the Salesforce market, there is also so much to feel positive about. Salesforce isn’t going anywhere and continues to go from strength to strength.
I wish you the best of success in 2024 and a happy new year!