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The Race to Connect with Customers in a Whole New Way

Perficient had the honor of participating in Cox Automotive’s first-ever Salesforce Summit earlier this year at their company headquarters in Atlanta. As our client, it was so exciting to not only see 150 business and technology leaders we work with, from across the more than 25 brands Cox Automotive owns, come together to share and learn from other Salesforce users, but to see their senior leadership both sponsor and believe in the power of the Salesforce platform to transform their business.


As we learned from Peter Coffee, VP of Strategic Research at Salesforce, the automotive industry (like every other industry) is in the midst of a digital transformation revolution. To deal with this rapid change, there’s a “race” to the finish line and Cox Automotive has taken it upon themselves to focus on four things – Recalibrate, Accelerate, Collaborate and Educate. From that, the acronym RACE was adopted as an ongoing theme throughout their Salesforce Summit.

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the research and content Peter Coffee presented to better understand what organizations like Cox Automotive are facing, and how they’re using Salesforce to accelerate digital transformation to address new business demands.

Recalibration – How Has the Environment Changed?

We live in an increasingly connected world. What do I mean by that? International bandwidth usage has exploded over the course of the past few years. In 1994, 25 million people had access to the Internet. According to research from Juniper Networks Global Index, in 2014 alone, there were 2.3 billion mobile broadband subscribers (undoubtedly that number has grown since). This has a profound impact on how people are communicating across the globe.

But what does it specifically mean for brands like Cox Automotive? They’re tagline speaks volumes about who they are as a company and why they are using Salesforce.


Cox Automotive has realized the way in which they communicate with customers has drastically changed and there’s a need to recalibrate their thinking around customer engagement. As Coffee referred to it, it involves “a connection in a completely new context”. Innovative brands are moving away from having a product-centric view of how to run a business, to a completely customer-centric view. Why is this happening? Connected customers are rewriting the rulebook or dictating the rules for engagement by a brand:

  • They expect a brand to manage a single persona and possess the same level of knowledge regardless of where an interaction occurs. It’s about having a shared truth (Salesforce CRM’s bread and butter).
  • Prospects seek insights from other customers to make purchasing decisions.
  • Social media networks and the Internet in general have become a platform for sharing both the good and the bad about a product or service.

Accelerate – What are the Forcing Functions?

Cox Automotive, along with the rest of the world, is realizing that the pace of change only continues to accelerate. A perfect example of one of these forces accelerating change are wearables. The explosion of wearable devices like Fitbit and Apple Watch have occurred five times faster than smartphones. At some point they will likely become a thing of the past. For the automotive industry, the notion of the connected car has already become a reality. As Salesforce eluded to, there will be a movement away from devices and towards experiences using tools like the Salesforce platform and open APIs as the foundation for UI to create those digital experiences.

Collaboration – Who are Your Partners and Influencers?

We no longer sell to customers, we need to sell with customers. In today’s connected world there are no boundaries for conversations and collaboration. Numerous studies, including Forbes, have shown that customers are reported to be 60% through the sales process before ever engaging with a sales person. It’s a scary thought to think about how today’s informed customers have completely flipped the traditional sales process upside down and are in complete control! Businesses must embrace their community of customers, partners, suppliers and employees and be an active participant in this conversation.

For Cox Automotive, they knew that their network of high-value customers (both consumers and the dealership community) were their key to success in the automotive industry. It started with an idea from senior leadership that has transformed into a complete engagement strategy implemented by their Client Success Office to execute on the following goals:

  • enable growth through cross-brand selling across the 25+ Cox Automotive brands
  • build deeper relationships by leveraging client insights
  • drive client influence through conversations
  • activate Cox Auto across marketing, sales and service functionsDigital Experience

Since Cox Automotive knew that deeper connection demanded engagement and potentially a two-way conversation, they knew they needed to create a digital experience in the form of an online community. Perficient was engaged with Cox Automotive to deliver that digital experience using the Salesforce Community Cloud platform to help their brands engage with its network of dealers on a deeper level around core business processes. Perficient was able to demonstrate speed to market using Community Cloud delivering a custom mobile responsive community in just under six weeks for Cox Automotive. The new Dealer Community enables the company to increase rewards program adoption, increase engagement, unlock new revenue streams and enable growth. Want to learn more about the Cox Automotive community? You can watch the Salesforce customer success video here.

Cox Automotive Salesforce Dealer Community

I’ve spoken before (in previous blogs) about what’s prompted the need for recalibration, accelerated digital transformation, and increased need for collaboration. Data continues to be an untapped source of knowledge for a vast majority of organizations. Sure, you have your 360-degree view of the customer in Salesforce, but is this in and of itself the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? The answer is no.

Education – How Can Data Become Learning?

You’ve likely heard some of the many stats that research firms and media outlets like Mashable, Forbes and others have flooded us with. The more than 6.4 billion connected “things” in use by 2016, or maybe the more than 2.5 billion mobile devices reported by Gartner? Between those two statistics alone, that’s a lot of data floating around! Consumers are buying these these devices faster than you can blink an eye. What’s needed is a process for capturing and cultivating untapped sources of consumer data. Salesforce is moving from being a system of record for a company to a “system of intelligence”. Salesforce’s BHAG (or Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is to bring big data, cloud, and analytics all under one roof or hood (to use automotive lingo). The point Peter Coffee made to Cox Automotive leaders is that we need to take action NOW! We can’t afford to go on a hunt to find a data scientist to solve the big data challenge or developers to master the next application development platform. You simply need to educate a few of your best and brightest BI and data analysts to tap into the power of Salesforce’s IoT Cloud and Wave, or a developer to adopt rapid prototyping and to accelerate development productivity.

A RACE to the Finish Line

For the Perficient folks from the Salesforce practice, and Cox Automotive staff in attendance, Peter sure knew how to light a fire under everyone’s behind! His keynote was a perfect way to jumpstart the day and help Cox Automotive focus on the goals of the Salesforce Summit. Have you taken the time lately to rethink or reimagine how Salesforce can help your organization recalibrate, accelerate, collaborate and educate? If not, we’re here to help – that’s why clients like Cox Automotive engage us.


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Elizabeth Dias

Elizabeth Dias is an experienced technology marketing strategist focused on the financial services and retail industry at Perficient. With over nine years of experience as a professional business-to-business (B2B) marketer, Elizabeth is knowledgeable in technology strategies for the financial services industry focusing on mobile banking and payments, data analytics, and enterprise information management. She also closely follows the fintech community as well as tech trends in social and digital, and is also an active blogger and thought leader on Twitter (@techmktggirl).

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