Salesforce Pardot Platform Brings Together B2B Marketing, Sales Data

The cloud computing giant launches two new services to enable sales reps and marketers to adapt to the changing buying patterns of customers.

cloud computing

BOSTON—Salesforce wants to better arm marketing and sales teams with the necessary tools to more easily engage prospective customers at a time when the buying process is changing.

The company is launching new services in its cloud-based marketing platform to give businesses' sales forces greater visibility into the steps and actions prospective buyers are taking as they make their purchasing decisions. The new offerings, powered by Salesforce's Pardot B2B marketing platform, looks to enable businesses to leverage real-time data to continue engaging possible buyers throughout the decision-making process, from the initial engagement to the final decision, according to company officials.

The introduction of the Engagement Studio and Sales Cloud Engage services April 9 coincided with the 16-year-old software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor's Salesforce World Tour event here. Throughout the one-day event, Salesforce executives repeatedly used the words "engage" and "engagement" to describe how businesses need to address the relationship with their customers. It's the way to do business in an era of social media, big data and mobility, and it makes for good business, according to Keith Block, president and vice chairman of Salesforce.

During his keynote address at the event, Block said there is a "customer gap" between what the customer wants and what businesses are giving them, noting that 75 percent of customers are not fully engaged with the companies they're doing business with because too many times those companies treat customers as a transaction rather than trying to establish a long-term relationship with them.

"It's all about consistent customer engagement," he said, adding that companies that do a better job of engaging with their buyers see 23 percent more revenues per customer.

Salesforce officials noted the rapidly changing B2B sales cycle that puts more of the power into the hands of prospective buyers. Those buyers can now more easily research their options on the Internet, bypassing a company's sales and marketing teams and talking with the company only as they near their buying decision. That puts more pressure on sales and marketing professionals to find ways to more proactively stay in contact with the possible customer beyond the initial engagement.

However, what they need is visibility into the actions the prospective buyer is taking throughout the decision-making process, visibility they don't have right now. As an example, Salesforce officials noted that while marketers now know when a possible buyer has opened an email, they don't know how long the buyer was engaged with the message or what steps they took next.

When that information does come to them, it may be too late for marketers to act on it. The new services are designed to give them the marketing automation tools to change that by giving them greater visibility into the digital steps a prospect is taking during the decision-making process, how the possible buyer can best be engaged and how to better deliver the information the customer wants when they want it.

Through the new services, sales representatives can receive notifications into their Salesforce1 mobile app that give them real-time data into how a prospect is using marketing materials from their company, while marketing teams can push content that sales reps can use to help them move the prospect through the sales cycle.