Customer Platform Helps Panasonic Crush Europe’s Rugged Device Sector

Despite growing demand for rugged laptops, tablets, and smartphones, manufacturers of these devices still must defend the 30% premium they charge compared with consumer-grade alternatives. While rugged computers are manufactured to withstand vibrations or shocks and to function at full capacity in extreme temperatures, a common misperception is that consumer-grade devices “ruggedized” with protective cases or waterproof screens are just as good.

“That’s just not true,” says Kevin Jones, managing director of Panasonic Europe’s Mobile Solutions division, whose Toughbook brand dominates Europe’s rugged notebook and tablet sectors. “The design, materials, and testing that go into a Panasonic rugged device for the commercial market are incomparable.”

But as Panasonic seeks to reach new customers, generating the right leads will require more than running awareness campaigns, says CMO Jan Kaempfer. “We’re reaching out to industrial engineers, field techs, people who want to look under the hood to see and feel the quality of our products,” he says.

Using Oracle Eloqua’s cloud-based lead-scoring tools and prospect heat maps, Panasonic can now look at the “greenfield” share of its sales pipeline and invite those prospects to industry-specific webinars and, as the relationship develops, schedule a product demo or attach a service bundle to a new product offer. “It’s become very easy to know who to target, what to offer them, and when to reach out,” Kaempfer says.

Before moving to Oracle Eloqua, “we’d send out a mass mailing, target a 3% response rate, and then wait to see what the response was,” he says. “We were completely removed from measuring conversions.”

Panasonic has since integrated Oracle Eloqua with its Oracle Sales Cloud platform, so that the company’s sales and marketing teams share the same customer profiles, sales forecasts, and purchase orders. “I can now see exactly how much pipeline we created, how much pipeline we converted to wins, and what the total value of those sales were,” says Kaempfer, who adds that the integrated platform should help his organization lift the percentage of “marketing-assisted” sales to 45% by the end of this year from 35% in 2018.

Beyond Standalone CRM

Before moving to Oracle Sales Cloud, Panasonic’s salespeople had to export all of their data into spreadsheets before they could analyze it, Jones notes. “The entire process would take weeks, just to run a report,” he says.

Now, salespeople can start analyzing reports within a couple of hours, and they get insights into conversion probabilities, win-loss ratios, and average selling prices across different opportunities. “These activities were impossible to track in our standalone CRM system,” Jones says.

Integrating Oracle Sales Cloud and Oracle Eloqua lets the company’s executives “see exactly how our pipeline is being supported, where we’re spending our money, and what we’re doing to convert greenfield accounts while growing our current customer base,” Jones says. In the past, he says, 60% of Panasonic’s rugged device sales came from existing customers, the other 40% from new accounts. Today, it’s the reverse.

By better aligning its marketing and sales teams, “we’re not only able to close more net new business, but our pipeline of high-probability deals is the best we’ve ever had,” Jones says.

Panasonic has also updated the digital tools it provides to its thousands of specialist resellers. They now can log in to the company’s Oracle Sales Cloud Partner Relationship Management platform to request marketing support, share leads, and register deals. Also on that partner platform is Toughbook University, a self-paced, in-depth training program on how to use, market, and sell Toughbook devices.

“This type of training used to take months to administer,” says Rhiannon Ainge, senior manager of customer service and business systems. “Now our resellers can get certified on all of our latest products and start generating revenue from them immediately.”

Panasonic recently added Oracle Service Cloud to the platform, enabling sales reps to see which customers have reported excessive damages to their devices or have warranties that are ready to expire. Because the company can target customers at the precise time they’re ready to renew a service contract or upgrade their products, “we’re able to proactively uncover sales opportunities that we never even saw before,” says Peter Thomas, manager of defense and government sales.

Thomas describes his favorite features of the integrated platform: “Our systems team can create custom infographics that show the spread of revenue, by quarter, and deliver them within two hours after I place the request. As salespeople, we want to focus only on selling. So to have a system that allows us to do that is really, really powerful.”