Salesforce: Revenue Cloud boosts B2B e-commerce workflows

Salesforce has expanded its B2B e-commerce and revenue management capabilities. The new Salesforce Revenue Cloud includes a bundle of features to automate billing, forecasting and contracting. It also includes B2B e-commerce tools that make setting up subscription pricing easier. Automated workflows that can be used to set up outcomes-based contracts or consumption pricing services are included as well, making the process more efficient than before when users had to build their own.

According to Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and chief analyst at Topo subscription models have been essential for B2B companies’ survival throughout the pandemic. Even though the model is more common in the tech industry, it has been becoming more popular for goods and services, as well as other vertical markets too.

With live events on hold, the top of the marketing funnel may be lighter than it would normally be, so companies are now looking to invest in existing customer relationships. They need to swiftly adjust to new go-to-market strategies and revenue models.

Rosenberg said, “If we take what we’ve learned in the last nine months, everyone needs to be built for speed and have flexibility, adaptability, and versatility. Spinning up new strategies, offering multiple go-to-market strategies—these things resonate right now. Nobody can make plans past 90 days, so you want to have a platform you can spin up, scale up and scale down.”

Borrowing from B2C success

The B2B e-commerce technology space has traditionally been based on sales rep-customer relationship, with deals being closed mainly over the phone or in person. In the B2C arena however, consumer e-commerce went in the direction of self-service on websites.

The new B2B e-commerce tools in Revenue Cloud give B2B e-commerce sellers a push into consumer model territory. In Silicon Valley, this transformation was happening anyway, but the rest of the world has now been put into high gear during the pandemic.

Dan Gottlieb, Rosenberg’s colleague and analyst said “We’ve been living under these assumptions about how B2B selling is done for decades—it takes a lot of meetings, there’s a lot of people involved.” He adds, “The pandemic is what forced everybody into this crazy situation where we’re all inside, we’re all online…but it also completely disrupted the way we were thinking about how we’re going to execute these complex B2B buying situations.”

Revenue Cloud: RevOps or not?

An emerging business strategy is Revenue operations, or RevOps for shot. It put sales operations and marketing under a chief revenue officer (CRO)who then orchestrates their plans. The CRO finds and resolves inefficiencies in marketing and brand-new potential revenues streams, while keeping a close eye on forecasting with analytics tools. They do that to try and adjust tactics on the fly, so revenue is maximised.

According to Topo analysts, Salesforce Revenue Cloud is and isn’t a RevOps tool. Even though some of the revenue analytics and go-to-market tools resemble the tones that CROs are familiar with, they go past the scope of RevOps with the B2B ecommerce features. They concluded that it probably won’t be a threat to current Salesforce partners that have RevOps tools on the AppExchange marketplace.

However, even if Revenue Cloud overlaps some of its features with those partners it likely won’t cannibalise their customer base. According to Rosenberg, this is because the Salesforce customer base is so massive that just a drop in that ocean can mean a billion dollars in sales for those partners.

He adds “They’re still going to get deals, they might more, because when Salesforce puts its marketing and messaging behind a category [such as RevOps], we’re talking about a big ocean. For many of them, they can build a big company just by getting a single-digit percentage of that.”

Transparency is something Salesforce B2B users struggle with when it comes to some aspects of the selling process. This usually happens in areas such as billing and invoicing because they’re run by back-office teams that have their own process and data silos, according to Pascal Yammine (senior VP and General Manager of Revenue Cloud at Salesforce). Four years in the making, Salesforce Revenue cloud has been built from technologies acquired from SteelBrick and other companies—with vertical deployments to come based on Vlocity integrations—and it aspires to address those issues.

Yammine concludes, “Every touchpoint along the entire customer and revenue lifecycle needs to be quick, immediate, and have visibility and accuracy.”

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