Cien breaks downs barriers to growth with Salesforce

The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is giving rise to a new generation of businesses. Cien is one of these rising stars, leveraging AI to tell sales leaders how to improve the performance of their team members. In less than three years the company has already opened offices in Miami, Dallas, and Barcelona. Cien has developed a new breed of B2B sales management tools, which uses AI to measure and track selling skills and attributes which the company calls AI-guided selling.

With such explosive growth, having a robust technology platform is essential. This is because B2B Sales has gotten much harder over the years: customer acquisition costs keep rising, sales reps find it increasingly difficult to make their quota, and customer success teams have to work even harder to retain their customers.

Getting the right technology has always been a priority for the company founders. Cien’s Head of Marketing, Damien Acheson, noted that the company’s Salesforce adoption was part of its long-term strategy, and explained: “Cien went from zero to one hundred using Salesforce. We decided not to cut corners and implement a short-term fix that would quickly need to be replaced - it was faster and more cost-effective to get started right away on the world’s leading CRM platform.”

This principle also applies to Cien’s growth strategy, which aims to scale seamlessly and deliver excellent customer service. “As start-ups onboard more employees, more customers and develop more sophisticated processes, they often encounter growing pains during their teenage years,” said Acheson. But that’s not happening at Cien, which deployed Salesforce from day one to support its sales, marketing, and service operations.

Cien went from zero to one hundred using Salesforce. We decided not to cut corners and implement a short-term fix that would quickly need to be replaced - it was faster and more cost-effective to get started right away on the world’s leading CRM platform.”

Damien Acheson | Head of Marketing


Encouraging greater performance

Using over 100 AI models, Cien measures and tracks the skills and attributes that impact sales performance such as engagement skills, product knowledge, work ethic, activity management and closing ability. Because performance is influenced by many different factors, such as the lead and pipeline quality as well as and sales rep behavior, Cien prioritised implementing Salesforce even before it launched its own app, which integrates seamlessly with Sales Cloud.

The company decided to roll out an integrated approach to marketing, sales, and customer service, Acheson explained, “The approach not only optimizes the customer experience but lowers acquisition costs, increases customer lifetime value and creates operational efficiencies.” To further improve performance and productivity, Acheson shared that the Cien sales team “drinks its own champagne” and receives recommendations to help them work smarter based on data held in Salesforce.

Deploying a future-proof platform was not the only success of the implementation: Cien could also leverage Salesforce APIs to launch its own app on the AppExchange.

Streamlining implementation

The Salesforce implementation was completed quickly and easily, with no incidents. The platform’s ease of use and the wealth of supporting material available online meant it could be deployed without requiring technical skills. Moreover, Acheson goes on to explain, "We have had excellent support from the Pardot, Sales and Service Cloud product specialists, who have helped us with queries or fixes".

The Cien team was able to set up its account-based model with no support from IT staff or from third-party Salesforce consultants, including integrating data from Pardot into standard sales and marketing dashboards.

Bespoke training

With the new platform up and running quickly, the company had access to a sophisticated set of tools to deliver new capabilities by leveraging apps from the AppExchange as well as customizable dashboards, meaning the platform can continue to support the business as it scales and its needs evolve.

To help train staff, Trailhead played a key role in the Salesforce adoption, enabling new employees to become familiar with Salesforce very quickly. Acheson commented, “New recruits can pick their own modules depending on their level of experience and Salesforce knowledge, and follow them at their own pace, which is a really effective way of making sure everyone knows what they’re doing without wasting time.”


Optimizing planning

Any company aiming to boost sales performance needs to monitor what’s happening with its competitors. With Pardot, Cien has achieved significant improvements in terms of marketing support and lead generation.

Pardot has helped Cien supplement its own lead and account scoring capabilities by qualifying and scoring leads based on the level of interest. This means the team can work on nurturing leads from awareness through to evaluation using automated email campaigns. Tasks such as capturing leads from the website or managing Google Adwords campaigns are much simpler.

Cien also leverages Pardot to launch marketing campaigns via email, and pull reports on who has opened, scan read, read in depth, or forwarded the emails. This information informs the next action to help maximize the success of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Service Cloud helps Cien to keep track of multi-channel communications used for customer interactions across Spain the US. Knowledge Base is being used to provide self-service capabilities to customers, who can look up answers to common questions. “Our customer service has received excellent ratings, including a Net Promoter Score of more than 95%”, said Acheson.

Accelerating the sales cycle

Following the Salesforce implementation, the marketing department has taken a significant step forward in productivity, as have the sales team. With Sales Cloud, Cien has accelerated the sales process by reducing manual admin tasks, and freeing up the team to spend more time selling. With Salesforce, Cien can determine how much and what type of data users can access depending on their role, and reps have more flexibility to help them optimise the way they work.

The platform’s user-friendly interface has also had a positive impact on staff, who enjoy a better user experience and use gamification to motivate themselves to appear on the company’s leader boards.

Customized dashboards have transformed lead-based sales into account-based sales. “Our sales reps can manage about 250 accounts concurrently, which is an increase of 40% in a year,” highlighted Acheson.

Using Sales Cloud and Pardot together enables the sales and marketing departments to align operations, which encourages a more holistic and strategic approach to sales and marketing. Everyone has complete visibility across our business and customers, which drives better conversations. This helps to accelerate the sales cycle, with reps closing sales twice as fast as previously. “Our average deal size has also increased by more than 135% year-on-year,” added Acheson.


More than a platform

With Salesforce, Cien has a 360-degree view of the customer across marketing, sales, and customer service. Customer success managers can see each customer’s individual journey with the company and which products each customer has, which helps them to identify cross- and up-sell opportunities. With real-time data just a click away, the team can provide customised product information to customers in their preferred format, be that on the website, via email, or as a print-out.

The transformation has given Cien much more than just a platform, it’s even influenced the company’s culture. As Acheson commented, “Salesforce is a great partner for us. Salesforce has given us a methodology that guides our day-to-day business, including how we design and sell our products, and how we support our customers.”

With data all in one place, Cien has access to more information. “Salesforce has helped us to be more data-driven so we can make smarter decisions rather than actions based on intuition,” said Acheson.


Founded in 2016, Cien uses AI to tell sales leaders how to improve the performance of their team. Using over 100 AI models, the app tracks the skills and attributes that have the greatest impact on sales performance such as product knowledge, work ethic, activity management and closing ability. Available on the Salesforce AppExchange, Cien is the only app that measures the intangible sales rep factors that drive sales performance and makes it easy to see the financial results of acting on them. The company has offices in Miami and Dallas and its R&D headquarters are based in Barcelona (Spain).

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