Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a thorn in the side of organizations big and small alike. Finding the right tools that work for all teams in an organization is difficult, considering how varied the working culture can be in different departments.
Among the multiple tools that are at the disposal of organizations, Salesforce provides one of the most versatile solutions – which organizations can then customize based on their requirements. While this may sound easy, the amount of effort required to put together a working model that has high adoption rates is astronomical, not to mention the amount of disruption it causes to current working conditions.
Balancing both on a regular day is difficult enough, but doing so after a high-profile merger? Odds turn bleak. This was the challenge facing the global electronics giant, Panasonic Corporation – after acquiring one of India’s largest electrical materials manufacturers, Anchor Electricals.
Panasonic Life Solutions India (PLS India) emerged from this union, which sought to make the most of Panasonic’s cutting-edge technology and Anchor’s vast customer support network. This union saw a proliferation of innovative and eco-friendly products for lighting, wiring, and other categories that aimed to make life simpler, safer, and more comfortable for consumers.
The merger resulted in an entity that has eight factories cumulatively employing 9,500 people. They manufacture products in over 7,500 categories which are then sold through 80,000 retail outlets all over the length and breadth of India.
The focus of PLS India’s business shifted to take advantage of the merger, and a traditionally B2C-focused company that sold to end-consumers via dealers and retailers started actively growing its B2B and B2G businesses.
Challenges to collective growth
The focus on B2B endeavors highlighted the need for a better CRM program. While the company actively pursued trade with builders, contractors, architects, and government agencies, it experimented with a few basic CRM tools. The limitations of these tools delayed company-wide adoption, resulting in a scattering of data on leads, sales, and customers across various tools and paper-based documents. Lack of a consolidated view rendered management incapable of visualizing areas of improvement.
Ajay Saraf, Senior Vice President and Head – Project Business, PLS India says “We needed a more flexible, customizable, and easy-to-use CRM solution”.
Adds Balbeer Singh, IT Director, PLS India, “We’re a cost-conscious company. But rather than opting for a low-cost CRM, we wanted a tool that would deliver optimal value on our investment. Salesforce was the right fit.”
Once Salesforce was considered to be the solution to be adopted, PLS India partnered with Marlabs for Salesforce Sales Cloud adoption, with an aim towards streamlining and automating the B2B sales lifecycle across six business units. All sales processes, from lead creation and nurturing, to opportunity management, conversions, negotiations, and order management, were to be optimized to handle a few requirements:
- Switching to digital-first customer engagement
- After the drastic decline in face-to-face interactions due to COVID-19, most of PLS India had to transition to digital customer interactions and achieving the same level of comfort as in-person interaction was paramount.
- Super-charging decision-making with predictive insights
- Analyzing sales metrics and making critical decisions from anywhere was a major requirement from Salesforce. Leadership teams needed powerful predictive analytics and reports to track sales pipelines, and forecast with precision.
- Rapid adoption
- Getting the CRM implementation done quickly was of extreme importance to PLS India. The organization acknowledged that a project of this size would normally take 7-8 months, and committed to quick turnaround times with Marlabs to achieve this.
The Marlabs resolution
Contrary to all expectations, PLS India went live with Salesforce in a record three months. The solution was successfully integrated with ERP and was rolled out across 300 salespeople. The implementation is recognized as Asia’s largest Salesforce implementation too.
According to the IT Director of PLS India, Mr. Balbir Singh, the entire implementation was driven by the business to avoid gaps or loopholes. The organization was committed to capturing the system requirements of every single salesperson and board member before the implementation began. This helped in avoiding scope creep, and Marlabs could execute its targets with a single-minded focus.
“Marlabs exceeded our expectations with their domain expertise, Salesforce knowledge, hypercare, and most of all – their seamless handling of our ERP integration,” says Singh.
Chintan Mehta, Section Head (Web and Digital) PLS India, added that “Marlabs has a great business analyst team that understood what we needed, collaborated closely with our teams, and helped us be proactive”.
The results are clear
Thanks to the groundwork by Marlabs, the Salesforce solution went live in PLS India in just 3 months. To top that, adoption rates are already at 94% – going as high as 100% in traditional product verticals.
PLS India team is forging new and meaningful customer connections virtually, empowered by the insight from Salesforce. Thanks to the unified customer view, team members can now demo products, make pitches, negotiate with customers, and close deals from anywhere. Customer engagement has improved too, as team members can swiftly create and send out personalized email campaigns to update customers on new products, prices, and more.
What the future holds
At a strategic level, PLS India has a two-fold vision – to embed smart technology in all its offerings and to have its products used in every building across India.
“We’re already a market leader in wiring devices, but we want to be #1 in the entire electrical, construction, and materials segment,” says Singh. “With Salesforce, we believe we can get there.” But succeeding in the B2B sector depends on two factors, according to Ajay Saraf. He lists the speed of making decisions and agility in responding to customers as keys and notes how Salesforce helps them do both with optimal efficiency.
The insights to be gleaned from sales data provided by Salesforce enable better decisions, says Singh. He adds how all monthly global board meetings at PLS refer to this sales data. Real-time insights from the CRM solution enable PLS India to make better-informed decisions faster and drive revenue while augmenting growth in B2B.
The effectiveness of the adoption has resulted in changes across the world, too. The board members and leaders of the organization from Japan are being trained and onboarded on Salesforce to track and forecast sales better, and newer product verticals like Solar and Housing are also planning workshops to improve Salesforce adoption.