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Dreamforce 2013: Same, Same…but Different

Dreamforce: Same, Same…but Different

dreamforce-x-panda

This year’s salesforce.com Dreamforce conference was the 9th Dreamforce event I’ve attended (there have been 11 total to date) so I found myself comparing this year’s event with past events for marketing trends and patterns.

Here’s a quick run-down of past Dreamforce announcements/highlights:

  • 2013 Internet of Customers (Salesforce1 + ExactTarget)
  • 2012 Business is Social (Marketing Cloud, BuddyMedia, Work.com/Rypple)
  • 2011 Welcome to the Social Enterprise (Chatter Upgrades, Radian6, touch.salesforce.com)
  • 2010 Cloud 2: Database.com + Heroku
  • 2009 Chatter
  • 2008 Force.com Sites
  • 2007 Force.com + Visualforce
  • 2006 Apex Code
  • 2005 AppExchange
  • 2004 Customforce
  • 2003 SForce 2.0

So what was different this year?

  • More acquisition-led product announcements: In the past few Dreamforce events, the main announcements and marketing have increasingly been centered around Salesforce.com’s latest acquisition vs. internally developed products. This year, Salesforce.com’s acquisition of ExactTarget paved the way for top billing in keynotes and dominant placement on the trade show floor.

  • Simplified branding: Over the past few years, Salesforce.com’s brand hierarchy has become increasingly complex. Multiple product lines and acquisitions has lead to confusing brands for the various users and buyers of Salesforce products. The primary announcement this year’s event was Salesforce1, a re-packaging of platform technologies that included a heavy dose of mobile technologies, alongside a simplification of the major cloud products for Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service. A number of the other sub-brands (mostly acquisitions) that were mentioned at past events have been relegated to minor placement at the event and online. For example, no more mentions of Radian6 or BuddyMedia in the top-level product positioning.

  • benioff-striped-socks-300x3006a00e54ee3905b8833019b017d69c2970d-800wi

    Benioff’s footwear: In past Dreamforce conferences, there was a lot of buzz around Benioff’s colorful socks.This year, attendees were focused on his shoes.The only way to top his shoes next year is to lose the suit. Designer Snuggie couture, perhaps?

  • Minimal “cloud” positioning: Probably a sign that cloud computing has reached mainstream acceptance, there was very little marketing around why cloud computing was a superior alternative to on-premise computing compared to just a few years ago. The only exception was the last-minute Superpod announcement which provides “semi-private” cloud for enterprise customers, co-located within Salesforce.com’s data center using HP technology.

As one of the more important conferences in our industry, the spectacle of Dreamforce didn’t disappoint – from the high-production keynotes to the buzz of the expo hall to lavish parties. We’re glad to be part of it and are already planning a panda invasion for next year’s conference!

 

Pandas Invade Dreamforce 2013

dreamforce-x-pandaSalesforce.com recently took over San Francisco with their annual Dreamforce conference, one of the largest technology events in the world with over 120,000 registered attendees.

teamWhile the founders of SocialPandas are Dreamforce veterans, we thought it was a great opportunity to immerse the rest of our team in a week-long event that represents many aspects of our target market. We “relocated” our office to Dreamforce and worked out of the Appirio Cafe @ Jillians for the week. It was the perfect home base while watching keynotes, meeting with customers, speaking at sessions, commenting on Benioff’s shoes, and visiting the developer zone and trade show floors.jillians

Constantly surrounded by attendee conversations, jargon, dealmaking, and vendor pitches, our engineering-heavy team got a unique glimpse into the world of B2B sales and marketing.

While we were not exhibiting or actively marketing as a traditional Dreamforce sponsor, we did unveil a video (“Social Selling Sucka”) last week which pokes fun at some of the ways that salespeople are being advised to use social networks. We found that many Dreamforce attendees were relatively unsophisticated when it came to “social selling” as many sales teams resort to using LinkedIn only.

jason gretchenWe also had the opportunity to speak in three sessions, covering a variety of topics including lean UX development and startup fundraising. We’ll post links to slide content and replays as soon as the Dreamforce folks release them!

UPDATE (Dec 4): Here’s the replay to one of our sessions, Lean Development: Design Through Iterative Experiments, which covers tools and techniques to conduct product experiments that test lean startup product hypotheses. More replays coming as they’re made available!

Social Selling without the Feathers

The Pandas are fast approaching the 3 month mark since opening in private beta. Yay! We’ve been lucky to work with sales teams from around the world to improve and extend our product vision of becoming the ultimate “wingman” for salespeople.

Since we love our customers more than bamboo, we figured a very Panda way to share the insights that we’ve learned along the way is through direct quotes from our awesome users.

Chaz McDouchay, Social Selling Sucka

Real Relationships Trump Fancy Technology

Despite the onslaught of new technologies, not much has really changed in B2B sales.  You might meet via the Web or “ink” the deal with an electronic signature, but at the end of the day, it’s still people buying from people.

“In Sales, we get paid to read people’s minds.”

Not that many years ago, a sales rep walked into their prospect’s office and instantly got a read on them.  From diplomas on the wall to family photos to a 49ers mug on their desk, an experienced rep could easily identify multiple points of connection in under a minute.

“A good sales rep needs at least one to “X” things to talk about before a meeting, icebreakers.  If you can’t manage that, maybe you should change professions.”

The power of connecting, of building rapport and trust, remains the foundation of solid customer relationships. It’s still about understanding the customer’s problems and helping them build better businesses. You can benefit from the insights that are widely available on all of the social channels out there–if you know where to look beyond LinkedIn. Some reps are even outselling their peers by using social media. But you can also waste a boatload of time on fumbling around researching and engaging on social channels and come up empty-handed.

“Preparation is the most important part of the job and it’s one of those things no one wants to do because research doesn’t feel like selling.”

 

It’s Just Sales, Stupid

Social selling isn’t a new gimmick for ‘closers’ to latch onto to make quota. If used efficiently and effectively, social media channels open up an entirely new opportunity to forge deeper, genuine relationships. Not only do solid relationships increase competitive wins and deal size, but they have a longer-term effect of increasing upsell and reducing customer churn.

“I believe in selling to people, not selling products.  In large deals, it’s about the people making the decisions.  It’s about establishing credibility and connection.”

Unfortunately, the typical “social selling” prescription advises sales reps to behave like marketers while ignoring what Sales does best: build relationships to close deals.  We had a lot of fun creating this playful little video parody of today’s oft-cited social selling “best practices.”  Enjoy and share!

Social Selling Without Tweeting?!?

As Trish Bertuzzi lays out in her ‘Twitter for Sales Reps: Big Hat – No Cattle’ post, the payoff to a rep of establishing themselves as a thought leader on Twitter nets click through rates similar to a banner ad.  Ouch!  We haven’t yet encountered a rep who gets comp’ed on engagement rates of their Twitter followers, but let us know if you hear of someone.

“Twitter has 5% awesome content and 95% crap.”

So, stop tweeting white papers and start making real connections. Social is not a medium, it’s a skill. No aspect of business is more social than selling.

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