3 Takeaways from Salesforce Connections ’19

Salesforce closed out its annual Connections conference in Chicago this week, and while it’s impossible to take in everything the conference has to offer, the theme of the year was evident across every keynote, session, and workshop: win the love and loyalty of your customers through better experiences.

The many speakers and presenters at Connections made a compelling case that the success and growth of your business are totally dependent on your customers’ experiences, arguing that “80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services,” and that “51% of customers say most companies fall short of their expectations for great experiences.”

By collaborating across marketing, commerce, and service departments, with the singular goal of putting customers front and center, the idea is that you’ll be able to produce improved experiences and better engagement.

How does one achieve this lofty goal? Over three days in the windy city, Salesforce did its best to showcase the products, strategies, and tools they believe can transform the dream into reality.

360° View of the Customer (we meet again)

We’ve actually been hearing about this concept for a long time, so it’s nothing new. This was a major theme at Salesforce Connections (Indianapolis) back in 2014.

Why are we still talking about it? It’s an incredibly complicated undertaking. Marketing, sales, and service teams are typically siloed, with each team using different processes, technology stacks, and metrics to achieve success. While the teams are divided, the customer they’re interacting with is not. Customer relationships are only becoming more complex and dynamic. Coupled with the customer’s expectations, it makes this elusive 360° view more critical today than it was five years ago.

Is it really possible? Salesforce seems to think so. In their main keynote, they unveiled their Customer Data Platform (CDP) with the next generation of Customer 360. According to Salesforce, “New Customer 360 platform services will enable companies to unify disparate customer data throughout their entire organization and then personalize every engagement based on a single view of the customer.”

Customers are demanding a continuous experience from companies, but digital disruption has made the customer a very scarce resource in the economic equation. Better relationships protect that resource better than any other strategy, and digital data is what makes those strong relationships possible at scale.

Pardot, Pardot, wherefore art thou

While it’s safe to say Pardot isn’t going anywhere, it was striking that Pardot was mostly missing from the prime-time conversation this year. We’ve been wondering for some time whether Pardot might eventually be added to the Marketing Cloud (B2B Studio?), and the absence of significant keynote-mentions leaves us more all the more curious about Pardot’s future as a stand-alone add-on for B2B marketers. What comes next? Guess we’ll have to stay tuned.

Meanwhile, buzz for all things Marketing Cloud continues to be positively electric—not least of which for Einstein Send Time and Frequency Optimization, which will make many a marketer very happy.

Is it marketing? Sales? Service?

In the service keynote on Wednesday, we saw a cool demo that featured an ASICS team member (on the service side) talking with a customer via chat, helping them answer questions about marathon training-appropriate shoes, and ultimately finalizing the sale. This wasn’t the first demo of this kind, the kind that leaves you wondering whether the interaction you just witnessed should be classified as sales, service, marketing, or all three.

In an age of department infighting over sales or marketing-sourced leads and opportunities (but who’s winning?), this is an especially important idea. It’s just not that simple. Most departments are covering multiple bases, and if they’re not—they should be. Truly embracing digital transformation means recognizing that there are marketing opportunities in service interactions, service opportunities in sales transactions, and so on. Every customer-facing role needs to work together toward joint pipeline and revenue goals.

Honorable Mentions

  • Peter Sagal discussing sharing marketing insights by dissecting how his show has resonated with and grown its audience for the past two decades, as well as discussing all our favorite things: running, Game of Thrones, and being your authentic self
  • Watching the New Commerce Page Designer in action, “a new low-code feature in Commerce Cloud enables companies to dynamically create and manage their ecommerce sites in a fast and visual way”
  • Chicago’s Second City taking the stage before the main keynote and giving viewers an interesting, unexpected performance (all completely improvised)

Looking for more? You can find the major Connections ‘19 press releases here.

We look forward to doing it all again for Connections ’20!

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