The continued strive for a 360-degree view of the customer is coming closer to fruition as B2B businesses are finding innovative ways to aggregate and understand their customer data — all while offering simplified, streamlined customer experiences.
At Salesforce Connections 2019, marketing and sales specialists across a variety of industries came together for three days to learn about the variety of ways businesses are making the most of their customer data. The need comes from the common expectation of modern buyers to have personalized connections with the brands they do business with.
“We understand that you don’t normally call customers ‘customers’ — you say ‘patients,’ you say ‘shoppers,’ you say ‘finance,’ you say ‘policyholders,’” said Stephanie Buscemi, CMO of Salesforce, during the opening keynote. “This is because it’s now all about creating new human connections — meaningful human connections — to create amazing experiences for whoever your customer is.”
The process of tying customer data together across a variety of systems and solutions is not a new topic in the marketplace. However, ongoing innovations in leading cloud ecosystems are leading to better opportunities to gain a holistic view of the customer.
“Stitching together every single touchpoint to create this delightful customer experience is not easy,” Buscemi noted. “This isn’t new; this is a journey that we've been on together.”
At the event, Salesforce unveiled its new customer data platform (CDP) offering that will sit as a layer underneath all of its cloud offerings. Called Customer 360, the solution aims to help Salesforce users tie customer data to one individual record per contact, which will better enable each part of the business to have a clear understanding of past engagement with a prospect or customer.
“B2B companies are all trying to act more like B2C companies,” said Patrick Stokes, SVP of Product Management for Salesforce Customer 360, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “Traditional B2B sellers now want to have a direct relationship with their consumers because they need to understand who their end consumer is so that they can compete.”
“If we get really into the weeds, that account record might have several contacts that are associated with it,” Stokes said. “We need to understand who those contacts are and their relationship to the account.”
Nate Skinner, VP of Marketing for Salesforce Pardot, added that this connected data stream across all platforms will ultimately better position B2B marketing teams to adjust the customer’s journey in real time based on their engagement.
“The benefit to all of the products that sit on top of the Customer 360 platform is, for example, when you fill out a form, download an E-book or engage with an ad on the B2B side, that engagement history propagates to your contact record,” Skinner said in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “It will propagate to your lead and changes your lead score. This will then update your [customer’s] journey.”
That engagement insight is not only added to your contact record, but also elevated in the eyes of the sales team, according to Skinner.
“There's nothing better for a sales rep in the B2B world than to know that a prospect, who they engaged with before, just did something that sends a very specific signal that he's further along [in the buying journey] than maybe they thought he was,” Skinner said. “That's what the Customer 360 platform is doing for B2B marketers; it helps us really know that one contact and everything they’re doing.”
Cargill Accelerates B2B Deals & CLV By Aligning Sales Processes, Data Across Enterprise
During one of the breakout sessions, Kim Gandhi, Global Program Manager at the food, agriculture, financial and industrial products provider Cargill, shared her company’s experience with using Salesforce Marketing Cloud to build out customer journeys that better engaged prospective customers and gathered deeper insights.
Prior to partnering with Salesforce, buying from Cargill was far more complicated than it needed to be, according to Gandhi. The sales team was also spending too much time on "paperwork" and not enough time on selling.
“When you're a 150-year-old company and you're used to only being out on farms and in an agricultural setting, all of a sudden, going into an agile environment and making things happen every two weeks is a really big change for that company,” Gandhi said. “That change management is a big piece of what we have to do to succeed.”
Through the use of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Cargill’s team was able to build connected customer journeys that expand across its marketing, sales, service and commerce departments. This positions the company to gain deeper insights into customer needs and ensure the buying experience is as streamlined as possible.
“Before, we’d have things in a Rolodex or an Excel spreadsheet, and we had four different versions of Salesforce, while each one of the business units had a different view of what that was going on with that customer,” Gandhi said. “Now we can take a better look and actually ask, ‘are we able to invest in that customer, or is it a customer we should pull back from because it's not the right time for them?’ Our sales teams are now finding that information.”
Sales reps that were using Salesforce daily were at 93% of their quota as of one month ago, according to Gandhi. With the help of Einstein Analytics, the company noted that has generated $1.8 million in pipeline.
“We're seeing real-time analytics starting to come out of this, and we’re able to show our salespeople that by going and utilizing the systems and the [analytics] engine, they're actually seeing value,” Gandhi concluded.
B2B Commerce Grows More Intuitive As Buyers Continue Demand For Simplified Buying Experience
Throughout the three-day event, there was a heavy focus on the growing emergence of commerce within the modern buying experience. This was especially the case in the B2B marketplace, as more buyers are expecting a consumer-like retail experience when engaging with vendors.
“If you're a CMO in a B2B company and you're interacting with a brand like Adidas or State Farm in your consumer life, and then you go to work and you don't have that same experience on the B2B side, that isn’t a consistent experience,” Skinner said. “B2B commerce is designed to take care of that. On the B2B side, we're inheriting all that simplicity and thinking about how we can adapt that experience for the B2B buyer, just like they already changed it for the B2C world.”
#CMO of @RedWingShoes took the stage at #Connections19 to share his company's digital transformation for the consumer, while maintaining their #B2B relationships with channel partners. #cnx19 pic.twitter.com/05vL4RkOxg— Brian Anderson (@BranderSays) June 18, 2019
For example, during a session hosted by Red Wing Shoes, the footwear company was looking to adopt a more digital e-commerce experience for its consumers, while also ensuring that it didn’t leave out its B2B channel partners. This led to Dave Schneider, Red Wing Shoes’ CMO, and his team brainstorming new ways to engage their B2B clientele.
“As we take a look at our B2B2C model, which is where we're trying to provide boots to people on [construction] job sites, we're actually launching an entirely different way to go about this business, which is a digital voucher system that allows you to take pre-approved specs and requirements for your role on a specific job site and purchase electronically,” Schneider said during the session. “So, we can actually provide value back to our buyer and actually allow them to understand how and when they need to purchase to ensure that they are safe and adhering to OSHA regulations.”
“Digital storefronts” are also becoming a more consistent expectation for B2B buyers. During a breakout session, Frito-Lay highlighted how it wanted to take its direct store delivery model — with over 18,000 delivery routes and 500k weekly service calls for 280k stores — and to provide better B2B buying experiences, so its customers can offer better B2C experiences.
“Our founders’ dream was to be America's favorite snack food company,” said Melissa Murphy, Director of Sales Technologies at Frito-Lay and head of the brand’s B2B solution. “We fulfill that dream with over 55,000 associates across the U.S. to make, sell and support our [product]. But we also knew we needed to think broader. And so, e-commerce for us means that our favorite snack is now one click away for our B2B customers.”
Murphy highlighted five key pillars to B2B commerce success that helped Frito-Lay formulate this new buying experience for its B2B counterparts:
- Business Alignment: “As soon as we started developing on the Salesforce solution, you can imagine that [our executives] wanted the world,” Murphy said. “But they had a timeline, and they knew they needed to stay within that timeline. So, we had to make sure that we were aligned with our business so that we truly understood the scope, what that project looked like and how those capabilities could be enabled throughout the next six months and into the next year.”
- Meaningful KPIs And Metrics: “Understanding what your business team is responsible for within the organization and what they've been tasked to do, I think was critical for me,” Murphy said. “What it helped me do was take a step back. So as [the business team] were caught on all these capabilities they needed and wanted, I was the person that had to be able to help them understand how we will prioritize the capabilities that are going to help us deliver their business objectives.”
- The ‘MVP’ Approach: The “Minimal Viable Products” approach aims to get the solution live as soon as possible, so marketers can start seeing early ROI and collect feedback from customer on what’s working. “It was great to stand up and get this out the door in less than 10 weeks,” Murphy said. “We started to re-platform customers by segments of our geography in November. And we launched about 2,500 customers in our ‘wave one’ location. In early December, we went with our Canadian-based business and launched for another 3,000-to-5,000 customers. And by late December, we had all 30,000+ plus customers on the new platform.”
- Change Management: “It really came back because of the fact that we we're dealing with customers,” Murphy said. “We needed to pause, understand and make sure we implemented a lot with our [user-centric design] team to go get some feedback and make sure we were on the right path.”
- Ongoing Education: Frito-Lay noted that continued education on B2B commerce through Salesforce’s Trailblazer ecosystem has better positioned them to scale. “Whether it was being able to go out to the [Trailblazer] community and understand and learn from resources or attend events, network with and hear from other customers, it was all vital to learning how e-commerce fit in our business.”