A whopping 89 percent of marketers recently surveyed by Gartner expect to compete on customer experience in 2016. To meet changing expectations, leading CMOs are rapidly innovating the buyer’s journey – reviewing processes from the first time they make contact through a Web form to the moment they send final payment.
If you market through an indirect channel such as through partners, dealers, agents, franchisees or distributors, you aren’t immune to this changing landscape. But you certainly face more obstacles when it comes to data silos, systems and processes that don’t support changing end customer and partner expectations.
Enter Pardot, Sales Cloud CRM and Salesforce Partner Communities. Together, these technologies work to close the gap in some of the most mission-critical processes around lead generation and relationship management for businesses with indirect channel sales.
What do end customers want?
To the end customer, they want information in real-time and easily accessible. They want to be able to find resources and access support channels regardless of if they are working with the corporation directly or with a partner / agent / dealer. They also want mobile access to account history, support reps, product guides and more.
What do partners and dealers want?
Where do end customers go when they research a product or service? Usually, they are directed by a search engine to the corporate website. So while you’re marketing and selling through partners, the corporate website still needs to be a strong lead generation engine for the company as a whole.
Your partners want pipeline, and creating ways for customers to convert through the corporate website, then be routed automatically to the appropriate dealer or agent, is crucial. Using Pardot, Sales Cloud CRM and Communities, you can create automated processes for assigning Leads; tracking Leads and Opportunities; tracking original Lead Source; setting “hot” lead alerts; and more!
Partners and dealers also want access to resources that will help them close deals. Content marketing is a great tool to nurture and close deals but partners and dealers don’t always have the bandwidth to create a strong content pipeline that also aligns with corporate messaging. Salesforce Partner Communities offers the ability to create a Resource Library for partners, as well as Ideas and forums to address technical questions with product experts and developers.
Partners also want to be able to track marketing campaigns with closed-loop reports. With Pardot, Sales Cloud and Communities, partners can see where their leads are coming from via Pardot forms on the website and track if they led to Opportunities and revenue in Sales Cloud CRM.
Finally, partners want news, announcements and event updates from the corporate entity. Pardot is a great communications vessel to deliver critical resources to partners that they need to serve customers better. What’s more, you can use Pardot and Salesforce to report on partners who show strong engagement with the corporate brand.
Benefits of using Salesforce Partner Communities vs. traditional “portals”
The Communities platform is essentially a framework for building a portal. It can be custom branded to look like the corporate website but the assets and data are managed within Sales Cloud. Communities enables you to expose certain things to partners, using various security options, so they can reach right into the org to get what they need and edit customer information.
Salesforce Communities are licensed in a SaaS model and offer substantial benefits over building custom portals. They can be deployed in as little as 4-8 weeks, are integration friendly, are mobile ready and easily scalable. The time and cost savings over building a custom solution make Communities an extremely compelling solution.
Using Pardot, Sales Cloud and Communities together
A lot of how you approach using these three tools together will be dependent on creating a process that works for your unique industry and business. Lead nurturing, for example, can either be done by the corporate entity in Pardot or left up to the partner. Keep in mind, that system adoption, data quality and data governance is absolutely critical in either scenario so segmentation lists and suppression lists can be maintained in real time.
One of the biggest benefits to using Pardot, Salesforce and Communities can be the reporting. Since Communities acts as an extension to your internal Sales Cloud CRM, your partners can make real-time updates to Opportunities. Sales Cloud, then, serves as the connection between lead generation through Pardot and closed deals through Communities. With this, you no longer lose sight over Leads once they are generated, and you can better allocate marketing resources with Campaigns that generate revenue.
Implementing Salesforce Communities
We recommend that before implementing Communities, you have your “house in order” with the first two technologies in the buyer’s journey: Pardot and Sales Cloud CRM. You want these solutions fully optimized according to standard Salesforce sales process.
You also want a data quality score of approximately 80 percent or better in Sales Cloud. If data quality and governance is an issue, layering in Communities will only add to the fire. Contact an experienced Salesforce consultant to help develop strategies for improving data quality.
Beyond optimizing Pardot and Sales Cloud, you need to clearly define the requirements using a Web development approach. Look for other examples you like and consider how custom branding, mobile optimization and group features will need to play into the strategy. The more requirements you build up-front, the faster the development, QA testing and implementation process will go.
Ready to get started with Pardot, Sales Cloud, Communities optimization or implementation?