TORONTO – Tricia Gellman is helping stake out uncharted territory for Salesforce.com.
As the first CMO of the customer relations management (CRM) giant’s Canadian arm, she finds herself not only in charge of building its brand awareness but, along with Canadian sales head Richard Eyram, essentially running a division that employs some 1000 people across Canada, 700 at its Toronto headquarters alone.
A Salesforce veteran, Gellman has worked with the company for eight of its 18 years, most recently as vice-president of demand generation at its San Francisco headquarters before moving with her family to Toronto last month.
So why would she leave sunny California for the Great White North?
“I grew up outside of Boston, so despite everybody thinking me crazy for trading California’s weather for Canada’s, I’m used to it,” she says. “And my husband’s from Michigan – one of the reasons that we chose to come here is because we’re a lot closer to our families now.”
ITBusiness.ca met with Gellman on March 11 to discuss her new role, Salesforce’s updated approach to the Canadian market, and Canada’s place in the company’s long-term plans.
Editors’ note: the below is not an interview transcription, but reflects the conversation held.
ITBusiness.ca: Can you tell us how you became Salesforce Canada’s new CMO?
Tricia Gellman: I began my career at Salesforce in product marketing, which tends to be a big training ground for Salesforce executives because you learn how to craft our corporate message and how to convey our vision. Halfway through my career, I realized we could improve our connection between sales and marketing, and so I helped build out that connection within our corporate headquarters, which would eventually lead me to this role today.
ITB: Any particular reason for the timing?
TG: We’ve enjoyed more than 10 years of amazing growth and innovation in Canada and implementing our new executive structure was the next logical step. It will really help us see a better return on our team’s efforts, and help them forge a more relevant connection with Canadian audiences.
ITB: In the past, Salesforce Canada’s head of marketing basically ran the division. What’s changed?
TG: We’ve experienced a tremendous amount of growth – we now have a much bigger team than in the past. This is why we implemented our new two-leader vision with Rich [Eyram] serving as head of sales.
ITB: Can you tell us how Salesforce divides these two roles?
TG: The sales organization is responsible for building direct relationships with customers, with the goal of selling to and supporting them, while marketing is responsible for building brand awareness, which includes supplying new leads for the sales organization. We’ll also provide the sales team with interesting opportunities, assets, and materials to help them build new relationships.
ITB: What do you see as Salesforce’s future in Canada?
TG: The goal is to drive deeper integration – we want to focus not only on our products, but also our vision, our thought leadership, how we tie everything together to help both a new person who doesn’t know anything about Salesforce learn what we’re about, and the person who knows the product but needs help differentiating the features.
ITB: We have to ask – besides your family, what made you want to leave San Francisco for Canada?
TG: (chuckles) The opportunity to really own all of the brand’s marketing in a single market drew me to Canada. From building the company’s reputation for supporting non-profits and volunteering all the way down to how we fulfill our existing customers’ needs, was really exciting for me. In my current position, I see a lot of opportunities to have a direct impact on Salesforce’s value in one of our leading markets, which in a larger country with more segmented roles would be harder to do.
ITB: What is the most unexpected part of living in Canada?
TG: I would say the most unexpected part is just how diverse Toronto is. It’s really refreshing, especially given the global climate of adversity, to see everyone supporting each other, everyone getting along. Whatever your race, gender, orientation – it doesn’t matter, and you feel its impact on the city’s people every day.
It leads to food diversity as well. (laughs) That’s been another big surprise – the quality and quantity of Toronto’s restaurants.