I would say we’re on the right track. Then … I had the opportunity to see what true brand loyalty looks like in a b-to-b company.
I mentioned in previous BtoBlogs that I doubt a b-to-b customer would never wait outside overnight for your office to open, like consumers do for an Apple product. Well, it can happen and I saw it with my own eyes at Salesforce.com’s annual conference, Dreamforce 2011. This year 45,000 people came out to San Francisco to attend this event, or should I say “experience” it. It was the largest technology conference in the world.
Salesforce is at its base a value proposition, a customer relationship management system and one of the most “unsexy” products in the land of b-to-b purchasing agreements. Getting emotional about CRM (aside from frustrated and angry when it’s not working properly) seemed almost impossible. Almost.
At the conference, I was in a b-to-b marketer’s dream world, with 45,000 prospects and customers all in one place (did I mention another 35,000 were online watching it live?), waiting in line after line to hear keynotes or attend a breakout, and to hear about the company’s new products, updates and improvements.
Sure they had Metallica there one night to perform for us. But, we each still paid more than $1,000 per person just to attend, flew all of our employees out to San Francisco and put them up in a hotel on our own dime.
The energy in the room at the keynote given by the Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was contagious. If you were a prospect, as I was, and didn’t drink the Kool-Aid prior to the conference, then you were looking for the pitchers and cups by the end of the presentation.
Benioff brought customer after customer, his CMO, his VP of product development, all on stage. He walked through the audience and there was the president of Facebook, the CTO of Coca-Cola, the rapper MC Hammer (wait ... MC Hammer?). The crowd applauded and cheered after product demonstrations. I, with everyone else in the room, believed that Salesforce.com, a CRM platform—a necessary evil—can change the world. It no longer was a CRM tool, but a game-changing platform through which any company could revolutionize the way they do business.
So, for all of the naysayers out there, I say that emotional connections can be made with b-to-b brands. We can become irrational about a seemingly rational purchase. B-to-b buyers can actually feel fulfilled and happy about a purchase. We signed with Salesforce for a trial through the end of the year and actually felt good about the investment. I experienced that emotional b-to-b connection with Saleforce.com.
Are there any other good b-to-b experiences out there like this one you’d like to share?