Salesforce gets closer to prospects

Salesforce.com will develop deeper, behaviorial based insights into prospects’ digital engagement, and deliver actionable data direct to sales teams, with two new tools powered by Salesforce Pardot.

Engagement Studio will use over 100 behavioral triggers to automate the process of guiding prospects through the B2B sales cycle. Sales Cloud Engage will deliver the full context of a prospect’s engagement to sales reps via the Salesforce mobile app.

I spoke with Adam Blitzer, CEO of Salesforce Pardot, about today’s marketer’s needs for these kinds of tools. Blitzer co-founded Pardot with David Cummings in Atlanta in 2007. The company was sold to Exact Target in 2012, and acquired by Salesforce in 2013. Despite a 60 percent year-on-year growth in the marketing automation–the fastest growing field within CRM–Blitzer told me marketers still find it difficult to closely track and understand prospects’ behavior, and get actionable insights to sales reps in the field fast enough. What’s more, most of the available tools are still “too complex or siloed.” 

Potential buyers “have much more information at the fingertips than ever before,” he said. According to some estimates, they’re often “60 percent of the way down the buying cycle before they even speak to a sales rep, and that can only increase.” Prospective purchasers gather information from digital sources, and from their peers via online interaction. But its possible, by tracking engagement across the full range of touchpoints–whether it be social media, blogs, or websites–to “frame the relationship” a sales rep is about to have with a prospect.

Sales Cloud Engage should be available April 23, 2015, at $50 per seat per month. Engage Cloud will be in pilot in the second half of the year, pricing to be announced.

Engage Studio sets out to profile the way in which prospective purchasers engage with all kinds of content, displaying insights as a kind of subway map, showing each prospect’s unique journey–complete with red and green lights to highlight negative and positive interactions. Users will be able to change the prospect’s path (by delivering more, less, or different content, for example) with simple clicks.

Reps in the field can access the mobile app to see how far prospects are down the sales path, and learn when their actively engaged. In principle, a sales rep will be able to place a call to a prospect just as they finish reading an email or downloading a white paper. I asked Blitzer if such a close embrace could be perceived as intrusive. “You do have to teach best practices,” he said, emphasizing that it results in “a better service. You’re following up with information relevant to that prospect.”

The solutions are geared to the B2B market, but Blitzer agreed that they could have B2C application for “high consideration purchases, and complex sales cycles with need a sales rep.” Real estate, and especially commercial real estate, would be an example.

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