When Amazon Web Services (AWS) was launched in 2006, “We were truly a small technology startup within a large multinational company,” recalls Ariel Kelman, Vice President for Worldwide Marketing. Rather than build its own custom CRM software, AWS went with Salesforce from the start because “It’s not just a CRM system,” said Kelman. “It’s a platform that we can use to build all the functionality that we need.”
Since then, Salesforce has provided AWS with the flexibility and agility necessary to sustain rapid customer growth. Said Kelman, “Having the right tools and systems that can move as fast as you want to move is absolutely critical to that.”
“We chose to go with Salesforce for its intelligence, its scale, and its ability to support our needs beyond just the basic CRM,” said Michael Eggers, Director of Finance. “At that time, we didn’t really know what direction the business would take, but we knew that if we implemented Salesforce, it would be able to help get us there. Salesforce was enterprise-ready.”
AWS uses Salesforce to develop a specific “cloud journey” plan for a customer and then aligns its sales and operations teams with the information, tools, and processes needed to execute each plan. From lead qualification to deal closure, Salesforce actively feeds AWS sales reps the next steps according to each customer’s plan, keeping the sales reps on track with each account.
“Salesforce helps our reps to effectively manage the relationship so they know what they've committed to on behalf of this customer, and create a trusted advisor relationship throughout the sales cycle,” said Mike Clayville, Vice President of Worldwide Commercial Sales. “We can do queries on them to ensure that we are on track, both from the customer’s perspective and our own internal metrics.”
Cleaned and enriched customer data from multiple sources — including Data.com plus back-end usage data — gives AWS reps better and more accurate insights into each account. Such complete, consolidated views of their accounts enables sales team members to have smarter, more proactive conversations with their customers.
“Our customers are our obsession,” said Clayville. “Our goal is to help solve their problems, instead of just selling to them; we needed to find a way to scale that practice.” Integrated marketing campaigns quickly deliver leads to the right sales reps, while a propensity-to-buy model helps sales teams anticipate their customers’ upcoming needs. “The propensity model drives productivity in the reps, by enabling them to be proactive instead of reactive,” said Clayville. “It's a game changer.”
AWS also manages a wide variety of other processes with Salesforce, including deal approvals, contracts, and marketing budgeting. By including channel sales in its global territory planning, AWS gets a clear picture of how its partners are contributing to company growth around the world. “The fact that we can run all of these processes on one platform that is centered upon our customers has been vital for us,” said Eggers. “It makes it possible to keep our promise to stay customer-obsessed.”
In areas like account planning, AWS has integrated other tools with Salesforce to create a consistent, repeatable sales process that maintains quality control in customer relationships. “We’ve got a number of new sales members out there now,” said Clayville, “and the way you drive productivity is to quickly share best practices across the sales team. Salesforce helps us to do that.”
The seamless scalability of Salesforce has supported AWS’s unique operations over a decade of explosive growth, and partnering with Salesforce Success resources helped accelerate that journey.
“We are blazing a trail that nobody has gone down before,” said Clayville. “We now have millions of customers all around the world. What keeps a team together are tools like Salesforce that allow us all to recognize the obstacles ahead of us and help us to navigate those obstacles.”