Dreamforce round-up: Customers, technology and of course mobile
Dancing mascots, dry ice, a car on stage, one of the company founders dressed up as Doc from Back to the Future, San Francisco pop rock band Huey and the News and custom-made Louboutins. And this was just the Keynote by Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff.
Key themes coming from Dreamforce this year aren’t brand new revelations, but for this very reason marketers should take heed. They are trends that are growing in momentum, they’re not going away.
Customer-centricity: Salesforce really practices what it preaches and B2B marketers should look and learn. Salesforce is very good at creating evangelists out of its customers and then using them to speak to prospects. That’s essentially what Dreamforce is. Its customers do a lot of the marketing for them.
The tagline being used at Dreamforce: ‘The internet of customers’ represents the fact that behind every device is a person, a customer, and marketers should be focusing on them. Nothing new, you know that. But most of you aren’t doing it. What’s stopping you? A lack of technical skills.
The technology to understand your customers and react to their actions is increasingly becoming marketing’s concern. The Gartner stat predicting the CMO will spend more on tech than the CIO by 2017 has been bandied around on a daily basis at the conference. Meg Whitman, CEO of HP was on stage for a few minutes to promote a tech collaboration between the computing company and Salesforce, that will be known as the Salesforce Superpod, when she cemented the fact that marketers need to take the lead on tech by saying: “IT is becoming more important and marketing is now a tech business.” Those who can take the lead with technology adoption will immediately see the benefits and find themselves rising up the ranks quickly.
And of course the launch of the new platform Salesforce1 is yet another nod towards mobile. It allows users to manage Salesforce solely on a mobile, reflecting the fact their customers are interacting with brands outside traditional office hours and on multiple devices, so they will need to work fast to keep up with the customer. So B2B marketers, how long can you really keep up the assertion that mobile isn’t a priority?
Also adding to the event excitement was Benioff’s admission that Salesforce is helping to ‘ram stuff down people’s throats’. When he asked if the platform is essentially helping to sell in a more invasive way without having much regard for the end customer, he was unapologetic in his response saying: “That’s what we do, we enable sales.”
The Marissa Mayer keynote was interrupted when the Yahoo CEO was heckled by Walmart protesters. Mayer also sits on the board of Walmart. Benioff was quick to respond, asking Mayer if she always bought her fan club with her and then offering future hecklers advice on how to be more effective.
The CEO is a big presence and I didn’t find him instantly likeable. But after watching him fend off harsh questions from the press while making the room laugh, dealing with impromptu outbursts from audience members and knowing he has fantastic taste in shoes, I can understand how he’s led the company to its first $1 billon quarter. He’s determined, vehement and driven.