Salesforce Live: A&NZ is well underway, and we’ve had a blast hearing from top Trailblazers, industry experts and innovative companies about what success looks like now and into the future. Let’s take a look back at just a few of the insights you’ll find in the financial services, retail and consumer goods, and sales episodes.

Digital transformation has taken hold in the sales profession

The pandemic completely redefined ‘business as usual’, but the Sales Episode was full of stories about how the profession brilliantly weathered the storm by learning new skills, changing tactics and implementing new innovations at speed. 

The day kicked off with a panel discussing some of the ways sales organisations pivoted to new ways of selling, and how they can continue to go for growth. 

The challenges of the past year really emphasised the need for sales organisations to put people – their customers and their employees – at the centre by demonstrating empathy and understanding, said Jo Gaines, Area Vice President for Salesforce Digital 360

“We need to let customers know that we have their back. People want to do business with companies that are doing well by doing good,” she said. 

One value that will come to the fore in coming months and years is sustainability, said Eion Geaney, Regional Group Business Leader, 3M Australia and New Zealand. For him, it’s a natural extension of changes that happened as a result of the pandemic – everyone is more conscientious about creating a better future. 

Digital transformation was another hot topic, and panelists remarked that it has accelerated so much for customers and sales organisations – to the point that things can’t really go back to what they once were.

Not that people want them to. In fact, as Ezra McInnes, Managing Director of The Wine Group, pointed out, many sales and marketing professionals think new sales models established in response to the pandemic are more effective than pre-pandemic models. 

“Efficiencies went up, we sharpened our skills [...] There were lots of curveballs thrown our way but management teams became agile,” he said. 

These themes also came through during segments featuring sales experts Tony Hughes and Cian McLoughlin. 

Tony met with Vend’s VP APAC, Gordana Redzovski, to learn how Vend pivoted during this time of crisis. Because Vend’s main customer base is retailers, lockdowns hit hard. Vend rolled out initiatives to become a support system for customers, including launching a Love Local Retail campaign, providing financial assistance, and even having sales teams help customers hone their own digital selling skills.

“Being able to guide our customers through such a crisis was really inspiring for us,” Gordana said. 
 

 

Cian McLoughlin sat down with Keegan Bakker, Founder and CEO of Audata, to learn how the business has been able to scale its sales rapidly. As Audata expanded the breadth of its product offering, sales teams began to encounter challenges with generating quotes quickly, accurately assessing customer needs and putting together bespoke solutions. 

Automation was a crucial step in dealing with some of these headaches, said Keegan, and it helped the business create a more seamless experience. 

“We are customer focused, but the customer to us is everybody – accounts team, end-user, IT, business development managers. We want every touchpoint to be a great touchpoint,” he said. 

Using technology to create a great experience will only become more important as buyer behaviours continue to shift in the wake of the pandemic, Keegan added.

“These shifts are definitely here to stay [...] More digital behaviours feel like an evolution – something that was going to happen and has just accelerated.”

What are some other big ideas in the world of sales? Read more about Tony’s and Cian’s views on whether or not the future of sales has changed forever. 

And head to the Salesforce Live: A&NZ page to catch the sales episodes on demand here.

Financial services organisations need to think more like tech companies

One outcome of the past year is that consumers are more comfortable than ever using digital channels to engage with brands and businesses. As a result, expectations for the types of experiences they’ll have online are high, and behaviours are changing. 

Financial services companies need to stay on top of these trends by getting creative, innovating with technology and listening to customer needs. These were just some of the insights shared by a panel of finserv Trailblazers during the Financial Services Episode of Salesforce Live: A&NZ

The day kicked off with futurist Brett King and ANZ’s Chief Executive – Technology Gerard Florian engaging in a lively discussion about how empowered customers, big data, culture shifts and technology are fundamentally changing the way the industry works. 

Although many view the financial services industry as a slow moving ship, Brett and Gerard discussed the many ways the past year forced the industry to pick up the pace – and thereby proving that agility, adaptability and innovation are possible at speed.

One concept that’s crystallising is that the boundary between ‘financial services’ and ‘technology’ is blurring, and companies that can move fast to capitalise on this shift will be well placed for the future. 

“The majority of interactions people now have with financial services businesses are done through the technology layer: it’s tech first, and banking second,” Brett said. (You can read more of Brett King’s predictions for the future of financial services here.)

Another highlight of the day was a panel discussion featuring three Trailblazers who are at the forefront of this shift. 
 

 

Among the benefits of a good tech platform are better systems integrations for data sharing and speed to implement new products or services. The latter is extremely beneficial for being responsive to changes (for example, drops in interest rates) or market gaps, said Mira Hohn, Chief Product Officer of Athena Home Loans. 

“Innovation is rewarded, but execution is worshipped. Products need to be differentiated and meet an unmet need,” she said. 

Ritchie Cotton, Chief Technology Officer of Valiant Finance, agreed, adding that digital integrations can help with some of the complexities in the financial services industry by corralling large amounts of data. This can help businesses better spot opportunities for partnerships or integrations, something he called ‘finance at the edge’.

“In SMEs [small-medium enterprises], finance is part of a broader business need, like buying a new vehicle or inventory. We can provide a value-add for partners in those spaces and fulfill a customer need. It’s finance at the edge, where customers might not know that finance is a part of a decision or need,” he said. 

This idea of integration is extremely important for the future of financial services, said Andrew Clouston, Chief Partnerships Officer at Volt Bank. The ability to bring banking to wherever the customer is currently – rather than having to toggle between apps or systems – means banks can create an even more convenient experience for customers. 

“Businesses need to go to the customer and bring it to a place the customer is familiar with – It’s banking in the moment,” he said.    

This is only a snapshot of the day’s highlights. You can catch more insights, demonstrations and customer stories by watching the Financial Services Episode on demand here.

More than ever, retail and consumer goods is all about the experience

The Retail and Consumer Goods Episode was a non-stop extravaganza of Trailblazer interviews, insights into creating a great customer experience, and rapid-fire discussions about the trends shaping the future of the industry. Each segment, hosted by Channel 9’s Tommy McCubbin, offered a peak behind the curtain at how some of the biggest names in the business have pivoted their strategies in recent months or carved a niche for themselves by offering a great customer experience. 

The day’s all-star lineup included Barbeques Galore, MECCA, Coca-Cola Amatil, Super Retail Group, the Australian Retailers Association and more. 

Sarah O’Toole, Group Head of Digital Strategy and Delivery at Coca-Cola Amatil, shared insights into the company’s journey to transform into a leader in omnichannel delivery. 

“We want to uplift the customer experience so they can interact through their channel of choice, whether that’s online, through sales reps, in stores,” she said. 

Investing in technology has also freed up time for sales reps and business development executives to do what they do best – have more in-depth conversations with customers and create shared value. Their strategy seems to be working: according to Sarah, Coca-Cola Amatil has reached 98% of Australian postcodes.  

Super Retail Group’s Chief Strategy and Customer Officer, Katie McNamara, picked up a similar thread during a discussion about how to keep the customer at the centre of everything. It’s important retailers meet customers wherever they are, and create opportunities for them to jump into the buyer’s journey when it suits them – not where we dictate they must. 

Although this process might not yet be perfected, it’s a step in the direction of making customer interactions more than just a transaction

“It’s about sharing passions with customers. Always err on the side of creating a great experience,” she said.


 

Salesforce’s own Imran Khan, Director Industry Strategy for Consumer Goods/FMCG, took to the stage as well to share his five top picks for brands that excelled in their pandemic pivots, as well as how the march of digital transformation will continue to shape the future of the industry. 

“There is no longer a digital life and a physical life. There can be no disjointed experience,” he said. 

He feels that while there’s no going back to how things were pre-pandemic, retail and consumer goods businesses have a bright future ahead. One surefire way to future-proof your business? “Invest in the relationship with your customer,” he said.    

You can get the full Retail and Consumer Goods Episode experience here.  

There’s still plenty more goodness to come! Register for Salesforce Live: A&NZ, see what episodes are coming up and create your dream itinerary here.