“An Algorithm From Heaven”: Salesforce’s APAC CMO Explains How Its Community-Focused Marketing Converted The Masses

“An Algorithm From Heaven”: Salesforce’s APAC CMO Explains How Its Community-Focused Marketing Converted The Masses

Last week, the Salesforce World Tour rolled into Sydney for a day of AI announcements and networking. Thousands of tech professionals, marketers, salespeople and more packed themselves into the harbour-side ICC for a quasi-religious experience. B&T caught up with Leandro Perez, Salesforce’s SVP and APAC CMO to find out what on earth was going on.

“This [enthusiasm for Salesforce] is organic,” said Perez.

“Salesforce admins started self-organising, we saw that opportunity and amplified it but we’ve always been very careful that we don’t take over it and ruin it. It gives you this magical thing as a marketer and you always wish that you could have something like it.

“Every job you go to, you’re asked to build a community and you think ‘Oh, let me work out with some swag how I can get people to come to an event’ but these people genuinely love Salesforce because it’s changed their lives,” added the Cairns Crocodiles Awards judge.

Find out more: 5 More Industry Icons Added To Cairns Crocodiles Awards Jury

Leandro Perez, Salesforce’s SVP and APAC CMO.

One person the company chose to highlight was Livia Viana Berto, a senior Salesforce consultant at  Gold Coast-based Swan Technology Solutions. Berto took to the stage during the main keynote, staged in the round, with gargantuan screens offering live transcription of the speeches. Berto spoke passionately about how Salesforce had changed her life — expressing a kind of enthusiasm and devotion that is rarely seen for any company.

“Before Salesforce, I wasn’t really happy. I felt that I had a lot of potential that was being wasted. I knew that I could be more productive and more than what I was doing at work,” she told the crowd.

She explained that she decided to start investigating what she could do within the tech sector and landed on working with a CRM platform. The next day, as if by divine revelation, she saw a Salesforce billboard.

“That sign was not on my phone. It wasn’t an algorithm from humans, it was an algorithm from Heaven,” she added.

After mass emailing companies, she got an in at one firm and worked her fingers to the bone — “first one in, last one out” — and saw results. She also saw that she could use her experience with Salesforce to improve the lives of other Latinas who she said did not have a voice or a fair shot in the tech industry, started mentoring others and started a project called Signal Stack and Swan Technology.

“The other thing that we’ve encouraged, but was also organic, was paying it forward. Livia is the perfect example of that,” said Perez.

“I actually found that story because I run the Latinoforce group for Australia and New Zealand. We invited a group to come together and she was in attendance and she told us that she’d come from Brazil — and she didn’t share her full unfettered story because she would probably have broken down — no one would give her a job but she wanted to get into tech. There are dozens more stories like this in Australia.”

At the culmination of her speech, Berto was presented with a gold hoodie and a selfie with Frank Fillmann, Salesforce’s EVP and GM, Australia and New Zealand.

livia berto

Livia Viana Berto, senior Salesforce consultant, Swan Technology Solutions, receiving her gold hoodie.

Another rhetoric from the Salesforce show was that “Business is the greatest platform for change.” Sitting at the show, it certainly seemed hard to argue with. Every speaker banged the drum about the business’ focus on trust and ethical deployment of corporate funds.

“Values create value,” said Fillman. “It’s hard to believe we’re the third-largest software company in the world. When I joined 13 years ago, we were a little over $US2 billion in revenue and now we approach $US35 billion.”

Fillman explained that Salesforce’s first priority was trust and did not believe in customer success but in customer obsession.

“Equality and sustainability are not words on a poster at headquarters,” he said, adding that the company is net zero and has planted more than 150,000 trees in Victoria. Its huge Sydney tower is “one of the most sustainable” in the city, too.

But while Salesforce was keen to let everyone know it was changing the world for the better, it was just as interested in letting everyone know why its AI tools were better and safer for marketers to employ.

“If I look at my team, we’ve introduced a lot of channels and capabilities which have made the role of the marketer much harder than it used to. Back in the day, you’d create some messages, get it out to customers with a billboard,” said Perez.

Leandro Perez taking to the stage at the Salesforce World Tour Sydney.

“Now you have to do it on social, website, emails and multiple campaigns. What [our Einstein AI] is allowing us to do is simplify that and give marketers time back to be creative. When I demoed how fast you can generate an email, it would be hours of work if you did that manually. But now, with Einstein CoPilot, you can do it much faster and get back to thinking about how to target a particular customer, measure your success and then tweak it and be more creative.”

But, rather than making AI a “bolt-on” to an existing service, Perez and Fillman maintained that Einstein AI had caused Salesforce to completely retool its existing cloud-based products.

“We’re putting it in our customers’ hands and they’re showing early success and it’s exciting,” said Perez.

And that, rather than the quasi-religious zeal, might be Salesforce’s best marketing tool.

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