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.
Salesforce Pardot Platform Brings Together B2B Marketing, Sales Data
The Engagement Studio service—what Salesforce officials call the “nerve center for intelligent sales and marketing”—offers capabilities that make it easier for marketing and sales teams to connect with prospects by giving them a deeper understanding of the actions possible customers are taking as they make their decisions. Engagement Studio enables marketers to leverage real-time data regarding customer behavior along with prospect sales data from their customer relationship management (CRM) system to react to steps the prospect is taking. The service keeps tabs on more than 100 metrics to help sales and marketing professionals map out the best path for engaging a prospective buyer, and to adapt as the buyer moves along the decision-making process.
Engagement Studio also gives the teams real-time data to determine what’s working and what needs to change, and to evaluate post-campaign how the effort went.
The Sales Cloud Engage service gives sales reps better access to marketing content and insights to enable them to more easily develop effective marketing campaigns. Currently, much of the marketing data is inaccessible to the sales rep, which Salesforce officials said leads to ineffective campaigns that can cost businesses prospective buyers. Through the service, the sales rep can more easily leverage the marketing data to keep better engaged with the possible customer throughout the buying process.
Enabling marketers and sales reps to better work together is becoming increasingly important, according to Jody Kohner, vice president of employee marketing and engagement at Salesforce. Speaking during the event about the company’s Customer Success Platform, Kohner said “the lines between sales and services and marketing are blurring.” All of these people are interacting with the customer, so “more than ever before, you need to have one view of the customer.”
The new services fit into that idea of developing a closer relationship with the customer, and with giving sales reps, marketers and service agents the data they need when they need it to ensure they can meet customer demands. The services build on the Pardot cloud platform that Salesforce inherited when it bought ExactTarget in 2013 for $2.5 billion, a move that added more marketing and social tools to Salesforce’s marketing cloud efforts.
Sales Cloud Engage will be available April 23 for $50 per seat per month, while Engagement Studio is expected to enter into a pilot program in the second half of the year.