What Two Decades Have Taught Me About Salesforce “Seats”

By Justin Lowell

When I first started my professional career back in 2003, I worked in Boston’s Financial District. I shared a corner office with our VP of Sales, who at the time, had sticky notes all over his desk. They represented calls he needed to make, deals he was tracking, reminders about emails, messages, and meetings. 

One beautiful spring day, the wind that typically whips across the Financial District blasted right through the wide-open window of our corner office and changed the course of my career. After my VP’s Post-It Nor’easter settled, our eyes met, and I said, “That’s it, I’m putting these all into a spreadsheet and looking into standing up a CRM.” By the end of that day, I had all the sticky notes input into a spreadsheet, and within a month, we stood up the company’s first CRM.

Salesforce Then & Now

I’m dating myself to say it, but the evaluation was between Goldmine and Salesforce. I ran the evaluation, selecting Salesforce as the obvious winner. We Implemented with the help of Salesforce’s Premier Plus Support, and back then, they answered the phone within one or two rings. The person who fielded my calls typically resolved my issue on that call if not the following day.

I’ve been a kool-aid drinking, loyal Salesforce user since 2003. A lot has changed, but Salesforce has remained my CRM of choice. It’s not the only choice, but it’s the best. Sticky notes are not as good as spreadsheets, which are not as good as other options, which are not as good as Salesforce. I’ve evolved alongside Salesforce and watched as they’ve enabled a symbiotic ecosystem unlike any other technology developer I’m aware of.

Image courtesy of Salesforce. Click for more details.

I’m not alone. Salesforce has come to dominate the CRM landscape. Salesforce leads its next closest competitor in revenue by over 2x. In my experience, it is the most scalable, configurable tool for Sales. I have used it as an individual contributor, sales manager and sales administrator. I’ve used it for importing and cleaning data, building out template libraries for messaging and as a tool to dramatically increase my productive capacity. It is not a tool that magically increases productivity, or output; it still requires both strategic and tactical cycles to conceive of and execute on your plan, but Salesforce and the myriad of applications and customizations make truly spectacular business improvements possible. 

That value’s compounded by Salesforce integration partners that can amplify business process improvements, automation, and custom code. With such a strong ecosystem of configurable solutions, there’s no better choice for the long-haul than Salesforce. 

Whether it’s Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Community Cloud or FSL, Salesforce helps us all share a 360-degree view of the customer and our interactions with stakeholders to help us do more, together. Internal and external teams can leverage the coolest tool in the tech stack (Salesforce) to share information and collaborate to reach shared goals. To do this, we all need licenses or “seats.”

Now more than ever, each “seat” matters.

The concept of “seats,” proved to be prescient; those seats that used to be predominantly in office buildings have moved into our homes since March. It’s a serendipitous example of how Salesforce licenses can help businesses adapt to unpredictable circumstances and even a new universal WFH mandate. A recent Salesforce webinar discussed that the company was able to transition its 50,000+ employees to fully WFH in just 16 days. This business agility is nothing short of inspirational.

The global pandemic has imposed new constraints on how we interact. For the time being, those of us lucky enough to still be working are doing so much less in person and much more online, on teleconference calls, on the phone and via email.

This situation compounds the existing challenges for our fellow collaborators. It was hard enough to listen effectively without distractions, let alone being separated by two laptop cameras and ambient mics or headsets. This Harvard Business Review article walks through research around 6 levels of listening. Seeing everything through COVID-colored glasses, there are some great takeaways around levels 2 and 4:

Level 2: “The listener clears away distractions like phones and laptops, focusing attention on the other person and making appropriate eye-contact.”

Level 4: “The listener observes nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, perspiration, respiration rates, gestures, posture, and numerous other subtle body language signals.  It is estimated that 80% of what we communicate comes from these signals.”

Now that we all have our WFH setups, these principles can inform and improve communication on the never-ending series of video calls we’re on. Set your home workspace up for success. Remember your audience when orienting yourself to light sources in your workspace so people can see you on your camera and think about how your audio is coming in, especially when the dogs and the babies seem to compete for who can be the loudest at the most inopportune moment. 

Making eye contact is also different via teleconference–your eyes are drawn to the speaker and content they are presenting. Coordinate with your partner around use of shared office spaces. Stay engaged with your audience and peers instead of letting yourself get distracted by other calls or home activity, if you can swing it — they will appreciate it!

And most importantly, don’t discount the ways that Salesforce can elevate your remote interactions. If you’re underutilizing Chatter, now may be an opportune time to begin conducting opportunity-related correspondence right within these Salesforce record types. Do you feel like you and your manager aren’t aligned on your productivity and priorities? A new dashboard may help convey your impact away from the office. 

This point across all of this is when we’re forced to adapt to significant change and disruption, it becomes obvious that spreadsheets and sticky notes won’t cut it. We need technology, partners who help us get the most out of it, and patience with ourselves and one another. 

Good luck with all of it.



Justin is an Account Executive at Canpango and has consulted in the CRM ecosystem for some of the biggest brands in the United States today. As a Salesforce user since 2003, Justin’s combined experience of delivering and selling digital transformation solutions allows him to scope complex Salesforce implementation solutions to meet his clients’ long-term business objectives.

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