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Perspectives on the Past: Lessons Learned from Economic Turns Through the Years – Sales Enablement Soirée, Summer 2020

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SS: Welcome to the Sales Enablement Soirée session on Perspectives on the Past and Lessons that Can Be Learned from Economic Turns throughout the years. As history has shown us, economic turns provide opportunities for innovative solutions and strategic business pivots. By taking the time to understand what happened in the past and understand the lessons learned, we can apply those lessons to the present. Sales enablement has a unique opportunity to apply those learnings to help improve the business results that they are driving within their organizations. Today, I’m excited to have Mark Mathieu from Salesforce join us to discuss this turn. Mark. I’d love to hand it over to you.

MM: Hello everyone. I’m Mark and I’m SVP of strategic customer transformation and innovation at Salesforce, working as part of the strategy office on the visual transformation working with the C suite, on especially brand revenue and direct to consumer business opportunities.

Given my background, before at Coca Cola or Unilever and, just before Salesforce at Samsung. I actually was confronted with quite a few challenges at Coca Cola and product recall. At Samsung, the recall of the Note7 phone that a lot of you will have heard about it.

And of course, although these were very, very different and in a much smaller scale than COVID-19. When this crisis, which has now been lasting far too long, started, I couldn’t avoid but making the parallel to some of the tips that I had been using personally when I was in leadership position during recalls that were indeed potentially impacting the health or the safety of people.

And at that time, when I was at Coca Cola and we did that recall, we called it from breakdown to breakthrough. And, it reminded me how much you need to have a vision for recovery that goes far beyond the short term dealing with the issue and even the midterm recovery itself. But it needs to embrace the breakthrough, the game changing, the growth spot for the long term. And so, very quickly I was thinking about that and thought what were the four or five tips that I used at that time?

And, one of the first ones was probably this idea of your community. When you have a crisis, when you have a challenge to manage, you obviously have to lean in on your friends. And you need to realize that there is a group of people out there that care about you and that you can lean on and that you can turn into allies. And I thought that this was really an important point I’d I had to utilize that at the time of something in particular, where we had field very early on, again, very different contexts, but the group of people that we’d call, hand raisers that I’d volunteered to stay close to the brand and being, for me along the recovery processes, we found what happened and what we were going to do about it. And those are become some of our best friends. I mean, I know several of them personally today. And so, that was the first thing that seemed to be.

No very realistic. Think about your community of core users. And at Salesforce we believe very strongly that that community is a core element of our brand. The so-called trailblazers, all the partners inside customers and inside our partners that drive change at the forefront of the change, the pioneers that community.

And, I thought that was a very important one. The second one was this idea of managing or not exceeding customer expectation. This is the time when there is a breakdown where I need the case of, I think that a lot of us have been at home and, we’ve been, in a way, much more forgiving, but also much more demanding on some of our favorite brands and they are brands that have just been their business as usual or using the COVID-19 as an excuse. And you have some that have really gotten out of their way to meet our expectation, to beat our expectations, which I think in, in today’s world is, is the minimum you need to do.

And, so I’ve seen a lot of books. Sports brands for instance, that get out of the way not to sell me another piece of gear, because guess what? I don’t need more pieces of gear at home, but then encouraging me to stay healthy at home be it Under Armour. Or I did that I’ve done that very strongly and I thought that was really important.

And then there was a third approach that, that we thought was really important as a CMO, as a head of marketing was to make sure that the voice of the customer is constantly heard. I find that in the C suite, which is for that case needs to be rebranded the crisis suite. You, you really have the news of the voice of the customer on a daily basis.

And that often the, that the role of the head of marketing. But if it’s not exactly to be somebody’s responsibilities then the last one is probably to use your, the values and turn them into value, and really think that this is a time when you have a crisis that the values are the most important.

And I must say that that’s one of the things that, so I’m incredibly proud of working for Salesforce. Salesforce has, really from the get-go, embraced its values and we affirm them in everything you did throughout and still today. COVID-19 response now to focus in a little bit on Salesforce, what is Salesforce, his plan moving forward during the midst of this global pandemic? One of the things that amazing about Salesforce is that the company is almost run on a one pager, which we call the V2MOM. Which stands for vision, values, methods, obstacles, and measurements. And, when COVID-19 happened, very quickly, the company so basically, it’s something that would have a massive impact, not just on all of us, but on our strategy and tactics for the years. So, he wrote a V2MOM just for COVID-19 in an hour. COVID-19 response and it anchored it on how together with our employees, with the Ohana, all our customers, our partners, no one to go to this the best we can. And very quickly choose that, that V2MOM to number one, have a vision of not just managing the breakdown, but also planning for the breakthrough. We created those three phases very early on, which we call it stabilized, reopen, and grow. And recognizing that we were going to need to do the three, but to do the three simultaneously we need to of course manage the stabilization immediately.

We need to plan for the reopening, and you need to plan the growth phase for afterwards right away. So, we did that very early on, but we also lived our values there very quickly. And they were reaffirmed, at the center of V2MOM, values of trust continuing to building and making everything we can to reserve the trust of all the people that interface with Salesforce. Know the success of our customers, innovation and equality, and sustainability as the core elements of our values. And importantly, in all the bases I mentioned before we stabilized, we open and grow we actually cannot with something which was a product answer. So not only we had a vision and a strategy, but in our methods, we came up with a specific answer for each of the phase four that stabilized phase, we came up with Salesforce Care, which was put available freely, rapid response solutions so that everybody could actually really tap very quickly into an off the shelf three poles solutions to manage this urgency.

And then in the phase, we are currently in, unfortunately, not everywhere. This, we opened, we came up with the work.com the platform really to, to help organizations and I’ll get back to work and, and, really, Planning, that we opening, recognizing that it was going to be a journey and, giving people guidance and some, solutions, to deal with it.

And then as we go towards that growth phase, this is where you really see the power of Customer 360. Which is, to be honest, the main reason why I personally join Salesforce. Is the way you really have the ability today to unlock growth for any businesses to talk, not into marketing, or sales, or customer service, or sustainability or whatever, but all of the above and how you actually today, digitally and physically, can bring together all those touch points to truly serve the customers and to truly build a brand that you want to build for the long term. So that phase that you know is the third one, which I think is going to be the most important one for Salesforce, its customer, and its partners is going to be that unlocking of the growth in the new normal.

In the better normal as I like to call it. Where we actually really serve customers and try to do justice to their needs and build customer lifetime value. A lot of the things that I’m sure we will talk about it that I’ve seen in the companies that have been most successful in their response, are the ones that have not focused on the short term sales, but more on the long-term value and building that trust, being of service to customers for the long run.

SS: What do you suggest for companies that want to focus on a long-term strategy in response to COVID-19?

MM: One thing that’s very unique about COVID-19 is that, people have not really developed coping mechanism for the simple reason that it’s lasts too long to cope. There is a moment where you can cope for a month, you can cope for a few weeks. But when you see that, something like that it’s going to last long. And you see what matters to you and you also see what you’re missing, then you really are changing your behavior for the long run. And, I see the way, so of course every company that has embraced the digital technology to facilitate their business services, we’ve seen an amazing acceleration as you know, with tele-health, or tele-education. All of these platforms that were struggling before to, to really get momentum and you suddenly have become the new normal. But, what’s also been quite, quite interesting is, is the way indeed some companies have recognized the fact that, yeah, we are going to spend our money probably differently.

We are probably going to not travel more for a meeting just for a few hours. Or accept to live cramped in the middle of a city in an apartment that’s a to inconvenience to dream of spending two weeks of freedom during the summer. The reality is we’ve seen the number of people that have then move in, actually, working on a project of a secondary residence or a new residence that’s closer to the lifestyle that they want to have.

So I really think understanding the long-term psyche and recognizing that’s why I like to call it, not just a new normal, but a better normal, because I feel that they are be, hopefully a better tradeoff between people, the way they work, the way they live and the way they play.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was at the very beginning there was a letter from COVID-19 to human beings that was published. And it was really interesting because it was kind of like as if the virus was basically saying, now that I’ve get your attention are you going to change your behavior on all those things that you’ve said: like a non-sustainable behavior towards the environment, all of these things, I think we’ve become far more responsible hopefully. And again, I think that it’s changed behavior hopefully for the long run.

SS: I would love to hear from you what your definition is of digital transformation and what role that plays in resilience.

MM: The beauty of technology is that, still until recently there was a group of people were digital native, and at the other end they were people who actually were probably going to die without embracing digital technology. As much as I really do not believe that the coverage has been the great equalizer, as some people said at the beginning, because as we know, some people have been touched far more than others. But when it comes to, digital enablement, it is true that it’s forced people like my mother to actually embrace her phone and everything that she can now do remotely because before now she didn’t have to.

And so, I think that, in a way we have gained eight to 10 years of scaling mass adoption of some digital solutions that before were limited to the happy few. And therefore, we are not at a point where they were really scalable because they were too costly, given the lack of mass adoption. And that to me has been one of the big benefits, is that mass adoption of the everyday digital solution.

I also feel that it is going to change not just the way we live at home, but also the way we work. People indeed, as we know, are changing their mindset and the longer we work from home, the more we actually are not going to want to go fully back to an office, not 24/7, but almost. I think that people are going to realize that there were certain things that before we had given up that were just too much. And I think that, when I say brings back the right tradeoff for people, I think it’s going to be a pretty cool.

And one last thing, maybe which we don’t necessarily talk a lot, but a lot of people COVID-19 have learned new tricks. Have learned new things, that they had been pushing back until later. So, I don’t know whether it’s because we gained back time. The transit time is disappeared or whether it’s because we needed new occupations to cut the day from workday to family day.

But there’s been those kinds of me-time when you learn. For me a little bit of Portuguese, just so that I could understand now, those beautiful Brazilian songs in the original language. But the reality is, all of us have adopted some new skills, learn new skills, whether it’s cooking. My daughter yesterday was proud of her because she’s done the best apple tart ever. And before she was more of a sour kind of like cuisine, so savory, sorry, as opposed to sweet. And so, she’s realized that she has the patience to do that. So, I think that learning new skills that help us thrive is also something that we’re going to get.

And that’s going to remain after COVID.

SS: Now, is it possible to measure resilience? Are there any metrics or indicators that you use?

MM: So, I’d like to cover couple of the points that we discussed and come back to them. At least a couple. The first one is, I talked about customer lifetime value and I really think that we’ve seen, in this game, the people who are been trying to save the furniture for the short term, And delivers some short term results and the one that really put themselves at the service of their customers and really try to think, and do be of service to customer for the long run.

And so, I think that we’ve been talking a lot of customer lifetime value, but I think that this is a time probably for companies, for brands to say, How do I truly game change the way I measure my business and start to ask myself, how do I value those customers that have sticked with me during this, this month, during this year. And because these people are likely to stick with me for the long run.

And so, I really think that all those brands or those companies that are putting in place, not just the metrics, but also the solutions. One of the big reasons why I was so fascinated by Salesforce, is at the end of the day, everything is based on a data architecture and a single source of truth that cuts across all the touch points. And at the end, this is what is critical. Is to be able to understand people truly so that you can serve them, not in a way that doesn’t do them justice, not in a way that is not on their terms, but really understanding them enough. And putting enough intelligence, sometimes artificial intelligence, to make sure that you use that data to really deserve the trust of the customer over and over and over or again. Which brings me back to CLV, to customer lifetime value.

And the other one, which is an area of personal interest. I started there when I told you about that breakdown to breakthrough playbook. The first item I mentioned was the community. I really believe that we tend to measure our businesses by products, by categories, sometimes by brands. I don’t think that we often, at least I’ve not come across, many companies that manage their business by community. I really feel that understanding who are the micro communities, those likeminded people, those tribes, be they gamers, not if you are gaming company, of course, because that’s your customer base your entire base.

But all the people who have a specific lifestyle or a preference or know way of living of no things. They like things, they dream up. How do you size those communities and start to say, I’m going to, as I like to say, super-serve those communities to the point of ruining them to be, I don’t know, a billion dollar each? So how do I measure my business? Not just two product categories and revenues and brand value, but potentially to the value of the service that you provide to the community that buys you day in, day out.

I found that some of the companies that were, I think the most interesting response found the right way to do justice, as I mentioned before to their products, but also to their value. And, I was impressed for instance, to see companies like Mattel very quickly came up with a platform to not just use their manufacturing capability, to be of service to the community. You know, manufacture some masks and some COVID response to equipment, but also stick to their value, which at the end is encouraging children to keep playing. One of the risks that there was, during COVID-19 is that, this is a very long time and a very difficult time for a lot of people. And especially for children, especially when people find themselves totally quarantined or without the ability to see their friends and so on.

And so, the ability to really say who am I? What do I stand for? And recognizing as a company that if your job is to actually not just sell toys, but to encourage people, to use stories, therefore, to play. And you believe in the value of play, then this is the time to actually put the sales business a little bit in parentheses, not fully, because you need to still be in business at the end of it. Otherwise there is no point, but at the same time, being also, really true to your values and do something about it.

The other thing I’ve seen, which shows to me, I mentioned before, beat customer expectation. I’ve seen the companies that were most impactful would be the ones that, took some decisions and potentially some risks real fast. I remember we’re at the very beginning of COVID, maybe in February, I received a message and email from Singapore Airlines telling me what they were doing. Telling me that despite me probably not flying the way I usually fly, they would extend my, my status, giving me news about safety and everything they were doing. And so on. I’ve received after that email from a bunch of other airlines, even I tend to, or I used to tend to fly a lot.

And, but the one that marked me was the one from Singapore. So, I really feel that, this is a time where you need to stick to your values, and you need to not hesitate to act fast. People will forgive you if you course correct, but they will forget you if you don’t do anything. Now, what do you think that the new normal is going to require with regard to more digital initiatives?

As we continue to work remote, I’m going to say something which sometimes gets me in trouble. So, I try not to, fall into that trap, but I’ve always been a little bit, let’s just say, uncomfortable with the concept of work life balance because it’s kind of like boots, work and life in a position. And, I always, I personally live my work as part of my life and not only.

And so, I really think that what’s interesting is that it will, no, not just change the way we work, but I think hopefully it will change the way we position work as part of life, a key element, but not a negative one. One that people should fully embrace and if they don’t, then they should try to do the best they can.

And it’s not always easy, of course, but to do a work that they love. But then I also feel that especially in today’s digitally enabled world, if you do a work that is not exactly, the work you want to do, then you have lots of opportunities to educate yourself in your spare time. To be we’ll have to do something else tomorrow.

One of the platforms that Salesforce has, which again is again, I’ve been with the company less than a year. So, a lot of the times when I talk about Salesforce, it’s more not prides of the company. I joined the pride of no things I’ve been contributing to, but a Trailhead, which is an enabler and a real education platform that is accessible to anyone to actually learn new visual tools. That enabled people to move from sometimes, they read basic work to actually much more added value with digitally enabled work. So, I really feel that the way we will know, again, reposition work as one of the elements to embrace in our life, but also to grow so that the work we do is in constant evolution. And it’s something that is part of what makes us thrive, as opposed to say, there is life there. And I thrive when I live, but I don’t thrive when I work. You know, I want to thrive all the time.

SS: To our audience, we are about to move into a livestream Q and A, but first I just want to say thank you to our sponsors that you see listed here.