What I Learned at Dreamforce 2012

For those of you who don’t know, Dreamforce is a tradeshow hosted by Salesforce, a cloud-based platform for tracking leads and opportunities within your company’s sales pipeline. You may think that a tradeshow for a company like Salesforce would consist of nothing but sales, sales and more sales. Initially, I was worried that as a Social Media Manager, there wouldn’t be much for me to learn. However, Dreamforce absolutely exceeded my expectations and I was treated to panel after panel, and keynote after keynote, about social media trends and how the social revolution is changing the way we do business.

I’d like to share the most interesting things I learned at the show.

The importance of building a social culture at your company: In order for your company to truly be “social” and reap all of the benefits of interacting with your target audiences via social networking, every department in the organization must use social media in their day to day activities.  This goes beyond simply tweeting and posting, and must permeate the DNA of the entire company.  Human resources, services, support, product management, finance and yes, even the executive staff must commit to being social and using social data to drive the direction of the business.

CMOs will invest more money in technology than CIOs in the coming years: Yes, you read that correctly. Marketing technology spending will overtake CIO spending. What does this mean? If you are a technology company, think about targeting decision makers in marketing rather than always focusing on IT.

60 percent of the sales cycle is over before a prospective customer even speaks to a salesperson: These days, customers are researching online, talking to colleagues, checking out websites and interacting on social channels, not immediately connecting with your sales department. For this reason, it is imperative that you are active on social media, keep your company’s website up to date and make sure that all externally-facing collateral is simple, clear and concise.

Marketing and sales must be integrated: It seems like the theory that a lot of companies adhere to is: “You use marketing to get sales leads, then the salesperson closes the deal. The end.” That couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Marketing and sales must be integrated from day one. Even if a customer buys your product at the end of the sales process, your job still isn’t done. You must continue to nurture that relationship. Once a customer, always a customer.

There’s no such thing as B2B or B2C: It’s now P2P, or person-to-person marketing. Every business is made up of people (every B is made up of C’s), so it’s important to make sure your message resonates with individuals, not large enterprises.

Gamification is an excellent motivator: Everything is more fun when you are playing a game. If you are competing against coworkers or trying to earn points for prizes, it becomes much easier to get motivated about a certain task at hand. Gamification can work for social media, sales, marketing or just about any other department in your company.

I could spend hours and hours writing up even more takeaways from this conference. My recommendation? If you are a marketing or social media professional who is looking for inspiration and new ideas to challenge the norm, definitely consider attending Dreamforce 2013. Maybe the Red Hot Chili Peppers will return for an encore.

Did you attend Dreamforce this year? Tell us what you enjoyed about the show in the comment box below.

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