Is product push and customer engagement contradictory?

Salesforce is one of the business stars of today. The company was founded 16 years ago with the aim to produce and sell an online Customers Relationship Management system in the cloud. A typical SaaS business. Not many people know however that Salesforce with its easy to understand webpages is not really a startup any more but has more than 16.000 employees of which most of them are engaged in marketing and sales, not product development or product maintenance.

And what does these marketing and sales people do? Well, anyone of you have browsed through their web page and looked at one of their online demo videos know that you have been contacted with a quite personalized email asking if what you have looked upon was of interest and if he/she who mails you can be of any assistance. This mail is very short and well written to minimizing any irritation and spam feeling of the receiver, with the purpose to make contact only. If you would answer the email, you have a personal return answer from the same individual within the hour, often within 15 minutes. In any case, a couple of weeks later you are invited to a free group webinar or a lunch seminar with one of the senior-most leaders of the company demonstrating the service you looked at.

By engaging in group webinars and lunch seminars with senior staff and in some cases board members Salesforce attract attention and the events sticks out from the crowd. The task of the massive marketing and sales organization is to invite, to follow up and to close deals.

Does Salesforce ambitious online content marketing and massive marketing and sales, or rather engagement, organization pay-off? I would say so. Or like Marc Benioff, Salesforce Chairman and CEO writes in the 2015 Annual Report: “Fiscal 2015 was another phenomenal year of customer success and growth for Salesforce. We reached $5 billion in annual revenue faster than any other enterprise software company, and now it’s our goal to be the fastest to reach $10 billion.

Interestingly, quite many companies still promote their products or services only without really engaging with their customers like companies like Salesforce does. It is fascinating to see some sales attempts seemingly relaying on an attractive web-page only and some limited number of in-house sales people working the phone on their most attractive SME customers.

Many BtB websites today has updated to a modern design that have taken influence from app designs focusing on simplicity and easily find “sign-up” buttons. Currently white backgrounds and a mid-roller with colored headings, rounded black-and-white photos of people and limited texts per item is a popular theme. Its appealing but it often lacks engagement without content coming from the view of the customer, like Salesforce and some other companies work their marketing and sales.

Consider how the gaming and some social media industries have succeeded with their apps. Free apps with louds of expensive content building engagement and trust with increasing number of users, being the prospects, eventually leading to needs of wanting to do more. The purchase in-app business models work well in real-life marketing and sales as well, as Salesforce is proving. Growth is sought-after but too many companies with great online offerings need to sort-out their own marketing and sales ambition not focusing on upfront product pushes only. Video demonstrations, white papers, blog texts, webinars, seminars, the tools are endless to engage with a large number of prospective customers, even if in the end a product or service needs to be “pushed”.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to like, comment, share, tweet, email, etc. Hopefully the Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, will apply. I.e. 80% agree and 20% will give a constructive challenge.

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