In 2007, global electronics giant, Panasonic Corporation acquired one of India’s largest electrical materials manufacturers, Anchor Electricals. From their union came Panasonic Life Solutions India (PLS India).
Panasonic’s cutting-edge technology, combined with Anchor’s vast customer support network have made PLS India a force to reckon with in the electrical materials market. The company’s innovative and eco-friendly products for lighting, wiring, ventilation, and more make life simpler, safer, and more comfortable for consumers.
Today, PLS India has eight factories, 9,500 employees, and 7,500 products sold through 80,000 retail outlets that stretch from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and beyond.
Much of PLS India’s business has traditionally been B2C focused – selling to end-consumers via dealers and retailers. But now, the company is actively growing its B2B and B2G businesses – selling to builders, contractors, and architects, as well as government agencies.
“The success of our B2B business depends on two factors – how quickly we can make decisions, and how agile we are in responding to customers,” says Ajay Saraf, Senior Vice President and Head - Project Business, PLS India. “Salesforce helps us do both with optimal efficiency. It’s the cornerstone of our success, the lifeblood of our B2B business.”
Rewiring CRM for better flexibility and ease of use
Before Salesforce, PLS India had experimented with a few basic CRM tools. But the limitations of these systems made them difficult to adopt.
Data on leads, sales, and customers was scattered across various tools and paper-based documents. Without a consolidated view of this data, management couldn’t visualise where to improve sales, or how to bring in new business.
“We needed a more flexible, customisable, and easy-to-use CRM solution,” says Saraf.
Energising sales with a single source of truth
With Salesforce Sales Cloud, PLS India has streamlined and automated its entire B2B sales lifecycle across six business units. From lead creation and nurturing, to opportunity management, conversions, negotiations, and order management - all sales processes have been optimised.
Sales reps can easily consolidate, qualify, and categorise leads from multiple sources. Instant visibility into each lead’s potential to convert helps reps prioritise their tasks better, and act swiftly on hot leads.
“We’ve empowered our teams with a clear roadmap of where to focus their energy and resources,” says Singh.
“At the click of a button, teams have real-time visibility into leads, customers, visits, transactions, orders, invoices, and even competitors. They can also find new leads and opportunities through automatically curated market data.”
Meanwhile, project sales teams can easily collaborate and exchange information with lead inbound teams, key account managers, B2G teams, and contractor teams.
PLS India has also integrated the platform with its ERP solution to automatically capture and consolidate data on orders, billing, and shipment.
“All our sales teams are now unified on one platform, making sales much more seamless,” says Saraf.
Adds Singh, “By transforming the way we sell, our productivity has improved by 22%. And with a better mix of products, the quality of sales has also improved. ‘Hot’ opportunities have gone up by as much as 20% in the past year.”
Switching to digital-first customer engagement
Before COVID-19, most of PLS India’s customer interactions were face-to-face. But in a post-pandemic world, the team is forging new and meaningful customer connections, virtually.
“We can now demo products, make pitches, negotiate with customers, and close deals from anywhere, thanks to a unified customer view,” says Saraf.
The company is also keeping customers engaged at scale through Salesforce Pardot.
“We can swiftly create and send out personalised email campaigns to update customers on new products, prices, and more,” says Chintan Mehta, Section Head (Web and Digital), PLS India. “Once we resume in-person events with customers, we’ll be using Pardot to manage and track everything from event budgets and invitations, to registrations and feedback.”
Super-charging decision-making with predictive insights
With Salesforce, every sales person, right up to the National Sales Head, can analyse sales metrics and make critical decisions from anywhere. Leadership teams use powerful predictive analytics and reports to track sales pipelines, and forecast with precision.
“At our monthly global board meetings, sales data is pulled directly from Salesforce,” says Singh. “Spreadsheets have become a thing of the past.”
Adds Saraf, “With real-time insights, we’re able to make faster and better-informed decisions that drive revenue and growth in our B2B business.”
Powering rapid adoption
While a CRM implementation of this size would normally take 7-8 months, PLS India went live with Salesforce in a record three months. Such a Trailblazing achievement takes enormous foresight, focus, and planning – especially, given the complexities of integrating the solution with ERP, and rolling it out across 300 sales people.
“We made sure the entire implementation was driven by the business, so that there would be no gaps or loopholes,” says Singh. “We also committed ourselves to capturing the system requirements of every single sales person and board member before the implementation began. So, there was no scope creep.”
To top things off, PLS India had a good implementation partner in the form of Marlabs.
“Marlabs exceeded our expectations with their domain expertise, Salesforce knowledge, hypercare, and most of all – their seamless handling of our ERP integration,” says Singh.
“Marlabs has a great business analyst team that understood what we needed, collaborated closely with our teams, and helped us be proactive,” adds Mehta.
Thanks to all this groundwork, Salesforce adoption rates are already at 94% – going as high as 100% in traditional product verticals.
Now, board members and leaders from Japan are being trained and onboarded on Salesforce to track and forecast sales better. Newer product verticals like Solar and Housing are also planning workshops to improve Salesforce adoption.
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.”