How BA created a global sales team around Salesforce

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© British Airways

The legacy airline has centralised its global business-to-business sales team around Salesforce technology, and is eyeing the vendor's collaboration and AI capabilities to take advantage of new opportunities

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Now that British Airways has centralised its data with Salesforce, it is looking to help its global sales team collaborate to spot and respond to new opportunities faster than before.

BA adopted Salesforce's core CRM - Sales Cloud - back in 2014, three years after International Airlines Group (IAG) was formed, following the Iberia merger.

Previously the organisation was relying on siloed data and a CRM system from travel industry-specific vendor iSell.

Now, Sales Cloud is the global CRM for business-to-business sales teams across the two airlines. According to Edward Millington-Jones, sales enablement manager at British Airways, this has created a “single instance, single organisation” between the two airlines – helping to drive broader sales transformation.

The global sales team of around 800 people plans to better leverage the tool along with the collaboration capabilities of Salesforce Chatter and Community Cloud to link up global teams and react better to new opportunities from its customers, which are primarily agencies and corporate travel partners.

"It enables us to focus on our selling processes and efficiencies and delivering what the customer wants," explains Millington-Jones.

According to Millington-Jones, that means "getting deals filed quicker" and "being more reactive by using cases to manage requests and executing those".

"And also giving teams analytics and data they need to maximise efforts," he added.

BA has even put 72-hour service level agreements on certain activities like lounge or upgrade requests now that sales teams have better access to data.

For example, if BA was to open a new route to Nashville in the United States, sales teams now have the data to spot a corporate customer with an office there that may be interested in the route, or that has historically built itineraries with a stopping service to that destination.

Similarly any travel agencies with a particular focus on that destination may be contacted by the BA sales team to explore this opportunity and perhaps run some joint marketing activity as a result.

"We are always looking at personalising how we deal with customers and making things more relevant," Millington-Jones said. By having better access to information like booking activity, BA can start to help customers maximise their travel budgets by optimising their booking patterns.

Read next: Salesforce shifts focus to personalisation of apps, from Lightning to Trailhead to Einstein

This is where Millington-Jones sees some potential in Salesforce's AI-powered Einstein capabilities, which use machine learning to surface opportunities and match them with the right agents.

"We see an opportunity to quickly match agents with customers with the best propensity to take advantage of that opportunity and to raise an action," Millington-Jones said.

He admits that BA isn't currently leveraging the Einstein capabilities, which often come at an added cost, but did add: "We will look at it. That smart matching and how we identify opportunities across our network and how to match those at the time that may benefit and help us to fill the gaps, that's what we want to constantly get better at."

Read next: What is Salesforce Einstein?

BA also uses data visualisation software from Tableau to give sales teams self-service dashboards directly within Salesforce.

This has saved account managers around 20 percent of their time normally spent mining and interrogating data, according to Millington-Jones.

Salesforce is also driving better collaboration across the B2B sales team.

"Account teams use Chatter and that is recorded to help on cases and on accounts and opportunities," Millington-Jones said.

BA also rolled out an instance of Salesforce Community Cloud earlier this year to create a customer portal. This allows agencies to better self serve for information and save on unnecessary contact with account managers.

For example, agencies can now enter their own fare distribution numbers within Community Cloud, instead of sending in spreadsheets.

"We have plans to further usage of Community Cloud to allow agents to self manage other areas like servicing requests and maybe deliver performance reporting around deals," Millington-Jones added.

Read next: BA's May bank holiday IT outage: what went wrong?