For Stellaxius, growth means ‘drinking your own champagne’
We love Stellaxius. As a Salesforce implementation partner, the Lisbon-based company is totally committed to helping customers see real business impact from their Salesforce solutions. They do it by combining Salesforce consulting, implementation and systems integration with software development and business process analysis.
They must be doing it well, because Stellaxius is growing fast, with ambitions to grow even faster: their target is 20% a year.
To achieve that kind of growth, they’re practicing what they preach every day to their customers. In the words of Frederico Rodrigues, co-founder and general manager, “We’re drinking our own champagne”, using the same Salesforce solutions they bring to customers—and doing it in smart, innovative ways.
It’s a terrific story full of positive feedback loops, where innovation leads to growth which fuels more innovation. And it’s also a story about values and a mission for positive change.
Managing engagements with Service Cloud and The Salesforce Platform
In some ways, Stellaxius uses Service Cloud like most other companies do: to support customers, track their tickets, respond in a timely way and report on SLA metrics like time for first response and time to resolution. And it’s great for that.
But the company goes far deeper into the potential of Service Cloud and The Salesforce Platform to manage entire engagements and implementations, keeping track of requirements, resources, costs, and development sprints.
And once a deployment goes live, all that information is passed to the service team in Service Cloud, so all that knowledge is retained to accelerate the client’s adoption and success.
To manage such complex engagements, Stellaxius has built some business-critical applications on The Salesforce Platform, that integrate closely with Service Cloud.
From tool to product
The most exciting tool the company built is their Project and Portfolio Management application (The PPM). It's a tool to manage all the requirements, user stories, issues, release sprints and backlogs, resourcing and time tracking—essentially organizing everything they do on each project.
Soon, this powerful internal tool became customer-facing, adding real value to engagements. “There are different views into the PPM, so clients see what they need to see (things like the user stories and their interactions with us),” explains Frederico, “But there are other fields that only we can see, to help us manage the actual sprints, and break down the backlogs. It’s one, central tool and data set but with different views -- and that's quite powerful.”
Inviting clients into the PPM (using Community Cloud licenses) also accelerates deployments by helping the client’s people become familiar with Salesforce before their own deployment goes live.
“It's quite important from an adoption perspective,” says Frederico, “Even before they have their own Salesforce up and running, they’re inside it, opening issues, contributing to user stories and using Chatter to collaborate with us. By the time we launch, they need a lot less training. They know how things work.”
The next stage for PPM is to become a full product that Stellaxius can charge customers for and even add to the App Exchange as a valuable tool for other companies. Other tools Stellaxius developed on the Platform—including an employee engagement tool and an expense management app—are on the same path, from internal tool to customer tool to marketable product.
Building and converting pipeline using Pardot and Sales Cloud
Meeting the company’s aggressive growth goals means building a revenue machine that can scale up. Stellaxius uses Pardot marketing automation and Sales Cloud to do just that.
“We’re a small sales team so we need to create opportunities and prioritise them,” says Frederico, “We run engagement programs around content, nurturing the leads in Pardot and tracking web visits and email clicks until prospects are ready for sales.”
By using existing content from their blog (the Knowledge Center), the company is able to build brand awareness and generate real opportunities—including winning their first ever service contract to a company that hadn’t used Stellaxius for the initial build.
Once an opportunity is created, the Pardot/Sales Cloud integration kicks in. It includes up-to-date sales manager dashboards to track every opportunity. Traffic light color coding lets them track the eight things they care most about— including opportunities open and closed, expected revenue and year at a glance—so they can focus their time and attention where it’s needed most.
Tracking progress on all strategic goals is central to the Stallaxius approach to growth. The team is developing what it calls a business performance tool set to make sure everything is on track. With all business data in Salesforce, it’s easy to create dashboards to track everything that matters in one place.
The company is already seeing big improvements across the business. An example: tracking invoicing accuracy and timeliness—a critical contributor to cash flow. “We’ve significantly reduced the amounts outstanding and the aging of receivables,” says Frederico, “Instead of managing such an important process in an ad hoc way, with spreadsheets, we’re tracking the real data over time and getting to the source of any delays. I can safely say that we've reduced the amount overdue by 10% to 20%. And that's reducing all the time. ”
Another thing the company can now track is prospect engagement with Stellaxius marketing content and the resulting pipeline created by marketing.
“In reality, when we didn't have a good online presence, we didn't have the marketing automation, and we weren’t converting,” says Frederico, “We couldn’t track incoming leads, what stage they were at, next steps and so on.”
Stellaxius now has oversight and in-depth analysis into what content is performing, and why. And the online results speak for themselves.“We’ve increased the number of prospects and proposals that we produce. We’re tracking and converting more. It's almost like going from zero to what we have now.”
Building talent with myTrailhead
Success as a consultancy firm comes down to how well you can attract, develop and retain talent.
The company can’t just hire every Salesforce expert out there. They have to grow their own talent. Not surprisingly, Stellaxius uses Salesforce to help—through a dynamic learning portal called The Academy. It’s an in-house Salesforce university, using myTrailhead to combine internally developed training content with existing Salesforce content to onboard and ramp up new employees and to add skills to existing ones.
“It’s very good from an employee engagement perspective,” explains Rodrigues, “but also for talent acquisition. Our employees recommend others to come and join us, and often they say, “That's really cool because I can learn here. I have people that will teach me and I’ll grow my knowledge." That's also quite important.”
Values and giving back
Salesforce and Stellaxius make such great partners because we’re aligned at the cultural level too.
“Social responsibility is an important part of our strategy and also of our alignment with Salesforce,” says Frederico, “We completely agree with Salesforce that our business can be a big platform for change—not only to change the people that work with us, but to change the people around us—in our customers and way beyond our organization, if we can.”
The company has signed on to Pledge 1%, and, as part of that, is giving 1% of their billable time (their product) to non-profit projects as well as giving 1% of employee’s time.
One example: the company is contributing to a non-profit based in the Netherlands called Movement On The Ground, which helps refugees in camps in Greece. The Stellaxius team has implemented Pardot and Sales Cloud, totalling up to 140 days of work across three people.
“People feel really good when they can use their knowledge to do something good," says Frederico, “People have a sense of purpose and that's good for everyone”.