Internet of Things (IoT) devices are connecting to the web by the billions. Everything from our homes and cars to our clothes and kitchen appliances will be online. Our cities will be smarter, safer, and more efficient. Our fridges will order the milk, our washing machines will order more soap. Our cars will share data about their performance and even our driving.

The explosive growth of the IoT is being fueled in part by Canadian trailblazer Sierra Wireless. “We are connecting everything, from shoes, dog collars, billboards, and storefronts to credit card payment systems, street lights, trains, and automobiles,” says Steve Johnston, Senior Director for Information Systems at Sierra Wireless, Inc.
Sierra Wireless was founded in 1993 in Vancouver, BC. By 2012, it had been recognized as the market leader in the cellular M2M (machine to machine) sector, with a 34% slice of the global market [ABI]. The company is known for innovation and has been awarded more than 900 patents for a wide array of technologies.

“We’ve experienced rapid organic and acquisition-related growth in the past five years,” explained Johnston. “We’ve transitioned from a hardware-focused business to a full device-to-cloud IoT solution provider. We’ve expanded our value proposition to include data and services along with the connected device. As a result though, we struggled with disconnected sales processes and an outdated CRM system, which limited our ability to take advantage of our greater scale, and impacted our sales and marketing effectiveness, making cross-selling and servicing our customers difficult.”

That all changed in February 2018, when Sierra Wireless completed its Salesforce rollout. Thanks to the new platform, which includes Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and both Customer and Partner Communities, Sierra Wireless has been able to unify its three business units. The new platform upgrade and the business process re-alignment allows sales, marketing, engineering, customer support and repairs teams to collaborate on opportunities, remedy problems, and forecast more accurately using a custom forecast solution built directly on the Salesforce platform.

“Salesforce has been transformational,” said Director of Sales Excellence Roza Kline. “We now have full visibility into the sales funnel, we’ve broken down silos, and are far better able to align the right resources to give the customer the best experience possible. It’s game-changing for the business."
 

Salesforce has really put the customer at the center of all our sales activities.”

Roza Kline, Director, Sales Excellence, Sierra Wireless, Inc.
It’s easy to see why. A key pain point for the fast-paced high-tech sector is the time it takes to bring innovations to market. Building a proof of concept can be an arduous, time-consuming process. And because technology is evolving at a rapid-fire rate, latecomers to the market risk being overtaken by the next advances. To maximize agility, Sierra Wireless has integrated its own new product introduction process into Sales Cloud.

“There is a lot of interest and buzz around IoT, but we found that customers were really struggling to get their initial projects off the ground. We’ve invested a lot in our open source tools and our developer community and have introduced products like our mangOH® open hardware that allows companies to create a proof of concept very quickly,” explained Johnston.

“This means we can help move our customers more quickly to commercial scale. This is an area where Sierra Wireless is quite unique in the industry. Projects that would have taken 12 to 18 months our customers are now completing in three to six months. That’s an amazing improvement and very exciting. We’re lowering the barrier to entry for IoT.”
The results from the first two quarters since Salesforce’s rollout are impressive. Speed through the sales pipeline has already improved by 16%. Sierra Wireless has more than 550 internal Salesforce users and more than 8,000 unique partner users, with each internal user logging in an average of 72 times a month. That’s a 110% increase in just three months.

“Our collaborative partner and customer network is thriving,” said Johnston. “Sierra Wireless’ distributor network is actively using the platform to nurture leads, create end-customer registrations, opportunities and support cases. In fact, our customer community ticket creation (vs. email and phone support) has improved by 38% since we went live with Salesforce.”
Sierra Wireless is now widening its reach, evolving from a pure-play hardware supplier - it’s the market share leader in cellular modules and gateways - to an IoT services provider, offering data plans with its own global Sierra Wireless SIM, connection management and cloud solutions. Salesforce is a catalyst for this evolution. For example, recurring service sales teams can now collaborate more effectively with colleagues in hardware sales to sell both the device and the ongoing connection and services within the same parent opportunity.

“Salesforce has really put the customer at the center of all our sales activities,” said Kline. “It means that we can help them make the right decisions for their business goals. It’s given us a much clearer line of sight and much more accessible, accurate data.”

The platform is also becoming a crucial part of the business’s customer service function. “We’re now dealing with our customers in a very streamlined and aligned way in sales, and we’ve done the same in support,” said Johnston. “What can start off as a customer support issue can be escalated to engineering and other departments, so we’ve built in app exchange integrations to give the visibility we need to external tools like Jira, our engineering request tracking tool developed by Atlassian.”
Visibility is clearly crucial. Dashboards from Sales Cloud have become an integral part of Sierra Wireless’s operational meetings and quarterly updates. “We’re having massive success with the Salesforce dashboards,” said Johnston. “We have more than 130 dashboards, which our sales and marketing teams have created themselves to streamline their operations, and that’s a beautiful thing. They don’t have to come to IT to help them build reports or dashboards, they are building them on their own using the easy-to-use Lightning reporting interface.”

With sales cycles shortened and collaboration increased, the company is now setting its sights on achieving annual revenues of $1bn (USD). “Salesforce is helping us get to where we want to be,” said Johnston. “We’ve brought a platform to our community that we’re all enthusiastic about and engaged with. It enables us to support our customers and our internal users more effectively and is helping us grow the business. Now instead of fielding questions about when we will move to Salesforce, I get to work with an engaged user community to help prioritize what exciting new features we can implement to help them become even more efficient, so they can spend more time solving customer problems and less time on administrative functions.”