At Traction on Demand, we firmly believe in the saying of “just because it made sense, doesn’t mean it makes sense.” This way of thinking rings true, as organizations develop new normals in light of the pandemic. For high performing, high tech organizations, we’ve summarized five key takeaways that will help you rethink how you architect and utilize Salesforce Revenue Cloud to best service your customers from lead to cash.
“In today’s new world, market and operational agility are key factors in continuing to grow and scale businesses. This highlights the importance of people, systems and data in creating a seamless connection between the front and back office. Historically the back office was viewed as a secondary function that often ended out with outdated and disconnected data and processes, in turn leading to barriers to cash flow and liquidity. Our new normal now requires agile, end-to-end systems to improve operational efficiency and intelligence in order to keep businesses on the cutting edge of innovation.” - Errol Olsen, CFO, Traction on Demand
1. The maturity of CPQ
In our recent Ready, Set, Grow: Salesforce Revenue Cloud event, keynote speaker, Brion Schweers, Vice President, Revenue Cloud Solutions, Salesforce, highlighted the maturity of the Revenue Cloud space. Revenue Cloud is truly an End to End (E2E) solution to ready your business for rapid growth and adaptation to a fluid market. This is accomplished by connecting your customer and revenue lifecycles to bring simplicity and consistency to a traditionally complex quoting, ordering and invoicing process. B2B buyer expectations accelerated amidst the business changes brought on by the pandemic, with people moving toward a digital-first environment. Enhancing the customer journey within this new environment requires businesses to shift, offering more flexible offers with different ways of buying with perpetual, subscription, consumption or a hybrid approach. Regardless of the motion, the buying process has to be a frictionless and responsive experience for the customer.
“This is not an IT project, it’s a transformation project - and the focus of that transformation must be on your customer’s buying experience.”Brion Schweers, Vice President, Revenue Cloud Solutions
2: Setting your team up for success on Revenue Cloud
When implementing Revenue Cloud within your organization, it’s imperative to understand how a project will affect each area of your business from day one. Although projects are typically run by IT, it’s important to educate Sales, Operations, Legal and Finance on the capabilities of Revenue Cloud to ensure you’re extracting all requirements from your internal Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). When scaling quickly, people tend to wear multiple hats, however, key user responsibilities and business knowledge can’t typically be delegated to others, so it’s critical to ensure the time commitment is defined early, especially when you have competing projects.
For existing CPQ customers, you must have a blend of technical, functional and business users represented within the project team. It’s especially critical to incorporate past project teams who have experience working on the platform, in order to avoid creating rework, while also ensuring you’re picking up where the last team left off.
3: It’s not just SaaS - It’s anything as a service (XaaS)
As increasingly more organizations look to capture recurring revenue streams, , Kylie Fuentes, VP Product, Salesforce explores the shift to Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS) models, which require a different way of thinking than a traditional transactional model. Recurring revenue models can lower the barrier to entry for new customers and yield a higher margin over the lifespan of each customer. These can come in a variety of forms, as there’s no one size fits all:
- Subscription - With or without a “freemium” component up front. The customer pays up front for a given term, so revenue is fixed and predetermined.
- Consumption - Customers pay in arrears for what they’ve used in the previous period, so revenue can be variable.
- Hybrid - Both paid in advance and in arrears, so there are both fixed and variable elements to the revenue.
“The move to recurring revenue is not a technology or a finance driven initiative, it is a customer experience initiative.”Kylie Fuentes, VP Product, Salesforce
In regards to the product and pricing strategy, it’s important to think about customer success, as their experience along the journey will impact your business beyond the initial sale. The other driving factor behind your product delivery is customer provisioning. By understanding a customer’s accessibility, you’re able to track their experience during amendments, renewals, upgrades, swaps and invoicing. Each of these points along the customer journey represents an opportunity to enable customer retention by tracking utilization. If unable to meet the customer’s needs throughout this process, or if your customers aren’t adopting, it could result in attrition. In order to unlock value within your customer experiences, you must win the customer with every interaction.
4: Streamlining the channel partner experience
If you’re looking to grow, scale, or manage a partner base, implementing partner relationship management is a must. Building a strong channel partner experience will allow for further product innovation, which translates to a better customer experience. To truly capitalize on this opportunity, we’ve broken it down into four key areas for Partner Managers to focus on:
- Channel account management: Understand what companies are delivering and what customers expect. When the volume of leads is increasing, the focus should be on match accuracy, routing process and response time, in order for a seamless customer experience.
- Channel marketing/enablement: Provide campaigns, collateral, event packages etc. to help your partners be successful in marketing your offerings. By providing targeted collateral to best support incoming leads, it sets the foundation for a reliable partner program.
- Program management: Recognize what your partner program entails and be conscious of where you have coverage gaps. Look at how you will incentivize and evaluate your partners and understand what the deal registration journey looks like.
- Channel strategy: Know what your channel ecosystem looks like and align on how to grow your alliances and become the preferred vendor for your partners.
The good news is that Salesforce PRM serves as the one-stop-shop for all of these activities. Traction Complete overlays PRM to reduce the manual effort behind lead routing and the response time to the customer. The configurable intelligent routing matches your unique partner rankings and relationship structures, resulting in improved lead assignment accuracy and quicker speed-to-lead.
5: Future thinking forecasting
Forecasting when “The Future” is really different, means you’ll need to focus on the growth aspect and your capability to launch your organization into an accelerated end game. We’ve seen massive disruption, not only as a result of the pandemic, but by recent incidents such as the Suez Canal blockage, the Japan chip factory fire and the Texas blackouts. Peter Coffee, Futurist and VP for Strategic Research at Salesforce, touched on the fact that it’s no longer appropriate to forecast by taking last year's numbers and applying a factor. To paint an accurate picture, you must dig into the underlying risks, as well as their causes and effects in order to approach the whole challenge at hand.
Planning for a future that is unlike the past urges organizations to focus on optimizing resilience, while ensuring that you aren’t isolating your company. What once seemed futuristic a few years ago is now readily available, highlighting the importance of building agility into your Revenue Cloud processes, in order to adapt quickly to thrive in new scenarios. As we all adjust to a new future, Peter’s advice is to embrace scenario planning. By taking what you know today, recognizing the uncertainties and envisioning the possible outcomes, you’re arming your organization with the necessary tools to continue on the path forward.
Forecasting practices largely presume a future that acts like the past - adding growth targets, and including error bars, but based on familiar causes and effects. As we enter a post-pandemic world, backward-looking forecasts display their weakness every time they use a verb like "return" or an adjective like "normal".
Putting the customer at the forefront of our future
Our new world requires that we challenge how we GTM and design our systems. Our entire perspective must be focused on the customer experience, from lead to cash and beyond. Like we said before: “just because it made sense, doesn’t mean it makes sense.”