Salesforce Sales Leadership Forum: 3 Key Takeaways

4 minute read

Salesforce is the world’s largest cloud company, and many businesses around the world run their businesses on one, or a combination, of their solutions. So it would seem logical that Salesforce could provide a focal point for companies to exchange business ideas and best practices. I participated in an event recently that was designed by Salesforce to be just such a forum for Sales Leaders.

The stated objective of the event (part of a broader program) was to provide an opportunity for Salesforce customers to hear from trusted sales thought-leaders on the changing trends in sales, share best practices and innovations with their peers in the sales leadership community, and of course network.

I was delighted to be asked to participate, along with Linda Crawford – EVP Sales Cloud, Salesforce, and Brent Adamson from CEB. What I particularly liked about this event was that Salesforce delivered on the promise; i.e. this was a sales leadership forum, not a Salesforce sales event. Brent and I were given equal billing with Linda, and the majority of the energy was spent on sharing thoughts and ideas with customers. The feedback from the attendees was that the three companies seem to work really well together. We actually have been working very closely together for some time now and each brings different value – but it is to Salesforce’s credit that they enable this for their customers, in a collaborative environment.

(We actually did a similar event the previous day in Amsterdam with a different CEB representative who had different but equally valuable perspectives.)

Here are my three key takeaways from the day:

Salesforce is all in on mobile

With an estimated 5B smartphones in our hands by 2017, it is probably fair to say that every sales person that Salesforce cares about will need to be served on their mobile device. In fact, as we walk around with smartphones in our pockets everyday, we give little thought to the personal and business productivity apps that we use everyday without even thinking about it.

Linda Crawford highlighted the analysis from Gartner that suggests that 2016, 55% of salespeople will access sales applications exclusively through smartphones or tablets. One of the things I have noticed at Salesforce over the years is that they don’t do 50% commitment. It’s all in or not in. There is no question about it. Clearly Salesforce is all in on mobile.

Eileen O’Mara, VP Sales EMEA at Salesforce gave a very impressive demo of how Salesforce runs its business from the phone that also included the Political Map component from our Dealmaker app.

(You can trial Dealmaker Political Map Express here.)

90% of World’s Data was created in the last 2 years

I’ve known this for a while – but it is still mind blowing. Linda illuminated this effectively as she recounted the journey from the mainframe (thousand of connections) to Client/Server (millions), on to the recent Internet (Billions) and the future of the Connected Customer (Trillions).

The question of course is “What do you do with all of the data?’. Life is a game of truth, not a game of data, and there is risk in relying on correlations and pattern matching to predict outcomes of prescribe behaviors.

‘Customer First’ really means ‘Customer First’

There used to be a time, a long, long time ago, when a sales person would trade information about their products and services for information from the customer on their business. “Tell me about your business and I can tell you about my products and how you can use them in your business.” That time is gone. Customers can learn everything they need to know online. So what do you have to trade? Linda talked about the need for greater insight into your customers’ business and that fact that according to Gallup, 66% of companies do not have an in-depth understanding of their customers. That’s a real issue.

The ever-energizing and entertaining Brent Adamson from CEB took this point to the max, infusing his perspective with pithy anecdotes and real data.

  • On average, 57% of the buying process is completed before a buyer contacts a supplier. (I wrote a mini-book about this: Battling the 57%)
  • The biggest driver (53%) of customer loyalty is the Sales Experience. Company/Brand, and Product/Service, count much less (each at 19%).

Brent went on to describe what a good Sales Experience looks like from the customer’s perspective: The sales person should bring a unique, valuable perspectives on the business, help the customer navigate alternatives?and avoid potential mistakes.

The customer matters. Insight matters. Your sales credibility is on the line.

I have written a blog post / story about that here. A Sales Story for Our Time.

Reliable products. Real results.

Every day, thousands of companies rely on Upland to get their jobs done simply and effectively. See how brands are putting Upland to work.

View Success Stories