Dreamforce 2018 - rethink how to budget for Salesforce, says Bluewolf

Profile picture for user slauchlan By Stuart Lauchlan September 24, 2018
As Dreamforce gets underway, the annual State of Salesforce report from Bluewolf sets the scene.

Business hand holds dollars in a bubble © suphakit73 - Fotolia.com
It’s time to rethink how you budget for Salesforce adoption and look beyond licence costs and services if the investment is to align with a digital business strategy.

That’s one of the findings from this year’s State of Salesforce report from Bluewolf.  This is the 7th such report from the Salesforce-dedicated consultancy and is pitched as the biggest yet, with 180,000+ data points and insights from over 2,500 Salesforce customers.

When asked what limits innovation in Salesforce, 29% of respondents pointed to a lack of budget, but the State of Salesforce report suggests that it’s a more complex state of affairs:

IT teams are still struggling with typical challenges, most notably budget and headcount, but also of internal alignment and poor data quality. The best companies are following a new budgeting approach that understands that transformation is an ongoing program, not a series of projects.

Bluewolf estimates that for every one-dollar spent on licensing, companies should expect to spend an additional two dollars on achieving success, making Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for Salesforce a total budget that is 3x licensing costs. It pitches an example whereby  $500K licensing cost is topped up by $1 million in ongoing administration, implementation, innovation and training, resulting in a TCO of $1.5 million.

In terms  of Return on Investment (ROI), it’s important to look beyond hard cash, advises Bluewolf:

When calculating ROI, companies often focus too heavily on cost containment. It is increasingly important to incorporate Salesforce’s impact on acquisition, expansion, and customer retention, in addition to cost defection. One of the largest factors that impact ROI is employee adoption, which is best measured not in terms of login rates, but rather employee experience and engagement.

Bluewolf argues that the most successful companies will design their Salesforce investment around the needs of employees,  with an emphasis on removing barriers to collaboration and productivity. It suggests that In a ‘connected office’, employees are 2x more likely to say Salesforce enables breakthrough innovation.

Because it is estimated to be 6x to 8x more cost-effective to retain a customer than acquire one, Bluewolf advises that users should think of investment and business impact over a longer period

Source - State of Salesforce

Experience Mindset

Equally important is the shift to think in terms of what Bluewolf calls an ‘Experience Mindset’. That’s an umbrella title for a philosophy that views Salesforce development as ongoing and part of an initiative that is customer-focused and adaptable:

Standalone projects that only address elements of employee and customer experience in isolation fall short, especially for companies that are multi-org, cross-cloud, or have other architectural complexities.

So whereas a traditional IT approach would be requirements-led, process-focused and based around individual projects, with the result that innovation is fixed, an ‘Experience Mindset approach should lead with business value, be capacity-based customer-focused and ongoing with the goal that innovation is adaptable.

The study also finds that 63% of respondents reckon to have a centralized customer experience strategy in place, which is a positive as companies that do centralize their customer experience strategy are nearly 2x more likely to say they provide a cohesive customer experience:

As the customer journey grows in complexity, a single view of the customer is increasingly valuable for employee collaboration. Companies that deploy Salesforce cross-cloud deliver a more relevant and connected customer experience.

In fact, the more clouds you have, the more you’re likely to achieve this cohesive and connected customer experience. Of those respondents who have only one Salesforce cloud in place, 45% agree with that. For those with two, 47% concur. And for those with skin in three clouds, the number rises to 55%.

As for the various clouds in the Salesforce product set, there are some interesting observations made in this year’s study. Sales Cloud is still the most lucrative of the various offerings, contributing the largest revenue contribution. But the study suggests that customers are not getting the best bang for their buck with 41% of users saying they mostly use it to track taske. Bluewolf notes:

Sales Cloud has matured from a task and opportunity management system to a solution that powers sales productivity. However, most businesses are not keeping up with new Sales Cloud features to deliver innovation to their sellers….Companies are missing an opportunity if Sales Cloud is used to simply track sellers’ tasks. Sales Cloud should be redesigned around the modern selling experience, so that sellers can best understand customers’ unique needs, create ease in the buying experience, and guide customers down the path to purchase...The best companies recognize Sales Cloud as the hub of their organization’s lead-to-cash process, uniting Sales, Legal, IT and Finance as one selling team.

Such collaboration delivers results - Bluewolf finds that when sales teams can work across departmental boundaries and use cross-function data in Salesforce, they are 56% more likely to anticipate customer needs.

It’s the same story in relation to Service Cloud, where if the service team are able to use data from other departments,  such as sales and marketing, the benefits will be noticed - 28% say it’s easier to resolve cases, 29% say it’s easier to create brand loyalty, 20%  say it helps offer cross channel consistency.

As for the marketing team, 90% of respondents from this business function say that sales and service interactions can be a valuable source of customer data. Given that this  data exists inside Salesforce, marketers just need access to it in order to tap into the benefits, which is presumably why some 80% of marketing respondents see building a strong relationship with their IT colleagues as a priority:

A successful marketing machine runs on validated, enriched data and the best marketing organizations integrate data from every touchpoint for personalized, relevant campaigns. Before companies master customer experience, they must  rst master data. Marketers delivering the right message, to the right person, on the right channel, at the right time are mastering their data in partnership with IT.

My take

Some interesting nuggets in the study make it worth taking a readthrough the findings. My criticism of  it remains one that I’ve made in the past - it’s a US-dominated study with 89% of respondents coming from the domestic market.  In contrast, EMEA - into which Salesforce is plowing millions of dollars of investment - only accounts for 6% of respondents, respondents who come from markets with differing business and economic climates. EMEA is fast approaching 20% of total Salesforce revenue, with a 35% year-on-year growth rate. The study would benefit enormously from reflecting that next year.