More sales opportunities. More customer meetings. More business insights. With greater integration, automation and digitalisation, Clarion Events is blazing a trail in its sector.
“We’re all about growth at the moment; in fact we’re looking to double in size within the next five years,” said Dave Cook, CTO at Clarion. “To make that happen, we need to deliver an experience that meets the expectations of customers in a digital age.” And Clarion has a lot of customers – from sponsors to exhibitors, to delegates and visitors.
As one of the largest event organisers in the world, Clarion spans 16 divisions and nine countries. It used to take 11 CRM systems to keep the company’s cogs turning, now it takes just one. “Deploying Salesforce was a strategic decision for us,” said Cook. “The merits of the platform are well proven, and its functionality keeps expanding thanks to continual investment.”
Due to the scale of its business, Clarion’s leaders decided to take a phased implementation approach, with Trailhead learning paths supporting the onboarding process. “Online learning is more flexible and progressive than classroom-based training,” said Greg Sewell, Group Commercial Director at Clarion. “Users can fit it in around their schedules plus it’s more cost-effective as it requires fewer training resources.”
With roots going back to 1947, the UK-headquartered company organises events in more than 50 countries across numerous sectors, including Retail , Life Sciences, Energy and Resources, Gaming, and Technology. As well as B2B events, Clarion is also involved in consumer-focused events for enthusiasts, such as the Olympia Horse Show and Condé Nast Luxury Travel Fair. More than one million people visit around 200 Clarion events every year.
Events are managed independently by separate business units - many of which started out life as acquisitions. This decentralised approach made it difficult for Clarion’s leaders to track and understand the overall performance of the business. “The reports were different, the KPIs were different, the systems were different,” said Paul Osmond, Group Marketing Director at Clarion. “Although each business unit was very successful, processes were manual and disconnected.”
The business units had equally individual approaches to capturing and storing customer records. James McMurray-Cole, Group Data Director explained: “Some records were housed in our CRM systems, others were jotted down on business cards and stuffed in shoe boxes! It was impossible to co-ordinate engagement across multiple divisions and events, impacting not only the customer experience but also investor reporting.”
Deploying Salesforce hasn’t just enabled Clarion’s leaders to centralise customer records; it’s enabled them to centralise sales activities, financial transactions, and performance reporting too. And there are already lots of great examples of Clarion’s Trailblazer status – especially within its sales operation.
More than 550 Clarion sales people across 16 divisions use Sales Cloud to capture prospect and customer information, track opportunities, and arrange customer meetings. “With all the customer information they need at their fingertips, sales teams are far more successful,” said Osmond. “We have already seen an increase in productivity.” For Clarion, this increase means more customer meetings, more opportunities, and ultimately more revenue.
To empower its sales teams with the same access to customer information while on the move, Clarion hopes to deploy the Salesforce Mobile App. “Mobile access will make it easier for sales teams to view and update information while they are at customer meetings or events,” said Sewell. “It will also provide them with the insights they need to up-sell and cross-sell more effectively.”
Next up on the sales enablement journey is gamification, with Clarion planning to roll out screens in every meeting room to display sales performance metrics.
Clarion has also centralised and simplified its approach to marketing; replacing around six email and data providers with a single platform. “Pardot is really powerful and intuitive,” said Osmond. “We can segment leads based on their engagement with our marketing, create personalised content, and reach more customers with minimal effort.”
Clarion sends thousands of marketing emails every month to potential event attendees and exhibitors, and it can now measure the results. “Lead conversion rates have already risen from 4% to 10%, with lead scoring ensuring our sales people are focusing on the right prospects,” added Osmond.
The ability to prove the impact of marketing on the sales pipeline has eluded many organisations, but Clarion now has that information at its fingertips. “With Pardot, we can not only see how marketing contributes to sales but also which channels provide the best quality leads,” said Justin Bond, Head of Digital at Clarion. “It will help us determine where to focus our investment and efforts.”