Working as a consultant in IT and in particular Financial Services IT you get a sense from the various companies you talk to when there is a buzz about a particular technology.
The excitement is sometimes about the latest thing in the news whether it be AI (Artificial Intelligence) exploding into everyday technology or the latest rise or fall of the value of Bitcoin. Amongst all this there is a constant that we come across all the time and that’s companies wanting to expand their use of Salesforce from traditional Customer Relationship Management (CRM) into new and exciting areas. We have a raft of highly specialised software in Financial Services, the Policy Admin Platform that powers your car insurance; the Core Banking system that holds the records of your savings or the Investment Platform you use to manage your Stocks and Shares ISA. Many companies looking at their costly and complicated IT estate often ask the question:
“Couldn’t we replace all this with Salesforce?”
This is a view that is often encouraged by Salesforce themselves and often we see companies that started out with small scale targeted Salesforce implementations end up with the Software permeating into all aspects of the estate. This demonstrates that not only do Salesforce have an excellent product but more importantly they are really good at selling it.
Salesforce recognised early on that in the world of IT systems it is great to have lots of customers using your product but it is better when you have lots of customers using a wide range of your products. Salesforce really master the art of upsell and cross-sell. A project to implement a core customer master system could soon evolve to deliver opportunities with the excellent Salesforce Service Cloud. A successful implementation in the regional sales team might then lead to widespread roll out across all sales channels. We’ve probably all noticed this trend when we deal with Salesforce and marvelled at how successful they are at this. So how exactly do they do it?
There is an obvious answer to this question and it is something that every Salesforce customer can benefit from.
“Salesforce actually use the Salesforce system themselves for what it was designed for – A CRM.”
It should not really come as that much of a revelation to anyone that a company that markets one of the leading CRM platforms is actually quite good at CRM. It is however frustratingly common to see companies that could benefit from a great CRM system not using their Salesforce implementation to fulfil this role. For Salesforce, the journey starts right from first contact. Creating a prospect in the Marketing Cloud drives the marketing activity. A warm response to that marketing activity might go on to create a lead in the Sales Cloud. This lead may then go through to being qualified as a sales opportunity with Salesforce’s sales methodology embedded within the system to optimise the transition from opportunity to sale. Post sale activity is then where the system really comes into its own by supporting the customers via the Service Cloud and using this data not just to influence how we resolve problems but also to influence future marketing and sales activity.
So what Salesforce are doing here is collecting the useful data from marketing, sales and servicing activity but also supplementing this with data from other systems to bring about a fully optimised sales strategy. They use this data to identify the customers with cross- sell and upsell opportunities and target the sales activity to the customers with the highest propensity to close the sale. Supporting this activity Salesforce has their Einstein tooling which brings in artificial intelligence to assist with decision making. Additionally, the MuleSoft integration platform brings in more efficient integration with other platforms in the estate and Tableau sits across the data giving best in class data analytics. So, in the suite of systems there is a comprehensive range of tooling to support advanced CRM capabilities.
Hopefully in reading the last few paragraphs many people will recognise how they currently use Salesforce. There will however be several current customers of Salesforce who are using it for something completely different. This might range from a simple store of contacts to complex line of business applications built on top of the Salesforce framework. Of these people there are I am sure some that have an adequate CRM capability elsewhere but also there will be many who could see real benefit from implementing the core CRM capabilities. This could be improvements in tracking the conversion of marketing contacts to sales or building a measurable cross sell and upsell strategy for an existing customer base to name just two.
So, if we revisit our first question, rather than asking if we could replace our core systems with Salesforce, we should instead revisit the reason why many companies bought Salesforce in the first place and ask:
“Why can’t we just use Salesforce for what it’s best at – as our core CRM platform?”