As a provider of comprehensive electrical grid solutions and products, Alstom Grid is a world player in an increasingly complex energy market. To ensure the satisfaction of its current clients and attract new ones, the company’s sales department uses Sales Cloud to simplify complexity and improve selling efficiency.
Alstom Grid designs, manufactures, installs, and services electrical power transmission and distribution systems to nearly 3,000 customers around the globe each year, with annual sales of €4 billion. The group is among the top three global providers in the world offering solutions, products, and services to electric power utilities, power generation companies, and electro-intensive industries like oil and gas and mining and metals.
Today, this energy sector is experiencing rapid change. Alstom Grid’s clients are increasingly looking for new solutions, such as smart grids and high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) systems, and to optimize existing electrical networks. Sales, engineering, and execution teams around the globe operate in complex selling environments. To meet customer demand for increased innovation, Alstom Grid’s sales department turned to Salesforce to streamline and revamp its sales process.
In 2011, Alstom Grid began expanding the use of Sales Cloud to include managing the sales pipeline, customer complaints, and deep market assessments. « We wanted to make decisions faster, and to be more customer-oriented, » recalls Joe Graziano, Vice President of Sales Operations at Alstom Grid. « We had to change the way the CRM worked to adapt to our changing business. »
One particular goal was to simplify how 1,700+ salespeople managed complex deals in over 70 countries with sales cycles that could extend up to five years or more.« Let’s take an example of a recent project for an Australian oil and gas customer: engineering began two years before project funding was approved in Houston, procurements were coordinated by an engineering firm in the UK, and the products were manufactured by factories in Australia, Germany, France, and Turkey » says Graziano.« With this kind of complexity, it’s crucial that the different teams working on a project are in sync with one another, and that each collaborator is getting the same real-time information. Frictionless collaboration is a key success factor. »
Today, Sales Cloud gives sales teams the most current information, allowing more informed and rapid decision-making at all levels, from corporate leaders to salespeople in the field. Graziano says this access to information has revolutionized his workday. « Each morning, I can see my digest on key topics, my newsfeeds, and my dashboards all on my smartphone with the Salesforce1 mobile app. Before I leave for work, I know what’s going on. » Similarly, the regional, country, and field-level directors as well as the field sales team can access dashboards showing operational KPIs that help them make decisions more effectively.
« Salesforce is for the whole commercial organization and beyond. It’s not just for management, and it’s not just a reporting tool. It’s transformational in the way we work. » Joe Graziano, Vice President of Sales Operations
Sales Cloud has also enabled a structured forecasting system at Alstom Grid. Sales teams can now access forecasting dashboards in real time using data already in the system. The CRM forces all collaborators to see, comment on, and use the same forecasts. This creates « one version of the truth » across teams, effectively cutting down on redundancies and inconsistencies.
Another time-saving feature has been the auto-generated reporting. Teams no longer need to create manual reports, as reporting is now the result of day-to-day operations. After a client meeting, an employee can post on Chatter an update with a brief meeting summary and next steps. By adding a specific hashtag, Sales Cloud will automatically create a task with key information, activity metrics, and the opportunity history. These contextual and collaborative updates can then be verified and tracked by the teams, providing a vital history that makes complex sales more efficient.
Graziano says that implementing a more robust CRM process has reduced time spent on reporting and forecasting. « When people say they don’t have time to use a CRM, what they actually mean is they don’t have time to enter information twice, » Graziano says. « With Salesforce, the message is: Just do your work and everything comes out of the system. »
« The biggest impact of Sales Cloud has been on the agility of our salespeople, who now have access to all the data they need at any given time, » Alstom Grid’s Sales Vice President Agnès Theodule says. In fact, Alstom Grid recently surveyed its sales teams and found that time spent on administrative and non-selling tasks has been reduced from 25% to 5-10%. This frees up the sales team to focus on customer face time. « When our salespeople don’t need to spend time doing reporting, they are with clients, and this benefit is seen throughout the entire sales cycle, » says Theodule.
The increased visibility of data has also improved its accuracy. For Graziano, the transformation has been huge. « People are now questioning, checking, and self-regulating data. There’s a transparency and clarity that was never there before » he says.
In the future, Alstom Grid is looking to extend its relationship with Salesforce to tackle high transaction volume deals more smoothly, to use analytics to leverage rich and growing sets of data available from Sales Cloud, and to connect Sales Cloud with other systems, particularly Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.
Improving systems and optimizing efficiency will be an ongoing process as both Alstom Grid and the marketplace develop and change. The flexibility of Salesforce to adapt is a huge benefit, according to Graziano. « Salesforce makes it possible to move very fast, to make quick and non-expensive adaptations and to work step by step, » Graziano says. « We’re not trapped by system constraints that dictate how we’ll do business, and we benefit from the ability to adapt to the current environment at any given moment. »