CMO Chats with Leandro Perez, VP and CMO of Salesforce APAC

Ortus Chats
Leandro Perez Marketing Salesforce


VP AND CMO | Salesforce APAC

Leandro Perez, VP and CMO of Salesforce APAC talks to The Ortus Club’s Hannah Hodkinson about building a great relationship between sales and marketing, keeping a beginner’s mentality in terms of innovation, and creating an amazing impact in your team. 

To watch Leandro’s interview, you can subscribe to our Ortus Chats interview series on Youtube. You can also listen to the interview on Spotify or pour yourself a cup of coffee and read the full interview below.

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First of all, tell us about your company. What does Salesforce do?

Salesforce is the leading customer relationship management company. In case you’re not familiar with that category, CRM helps companies get closer to their customers. Whether that’s interactions through sales, service, marketing, commerce, or any way that you’re interacting with your customers, Salesforce has a solution to help you bring those connections together and build those relationships.

What is your role there and what are you focusing on right now?

My role is in leading marketing for Asia Pacific. I’m responsible for all the functions in marketing across the region. I am based in Sydney Australia but my remit looks after Australia, New Zealand, the Southeast Asian Nations, India, and China. Right now, we’re focusing on wrapping up our Q1. We’re looking back at the things that we did, making any tweaks and adjustments to those plans as well as looking ahead to Q2 and the rest of the year. We’re ensuring that everything we’re putting into the market is working given that it isn’t a normal year (this is year 2 of the pandemic). Some of our markets are open, some are definitely closed like India, and we’re making sure that we’re learning as we go along.

Now let’s talk about marketing and events a little bit. Due to the pandemic, many marketing opportunities, especially related to events and event sponsorships, were no longer possible. As a result, what type of new opportunities are out there for b2b marketers?

There’s a lot and I can speak from direct experience. Last year, we had our largest event of the year in the region which is our world tour Sydney. We would normally expect about 10000 people on site for that event. Within 10 days, we had to pivot it to an online experience as COVID was just breaking out at that point. Fast forward to today, we are actually in the middle of a new series we launched that I would not have anticipated last year. It’s called Salesforce live. We’re first starting off in Australia and New Zealand and then we will be moving to ASEAN which is our Southeast Asian Nation and then to India. 

We’ve also transitioned from large-scale to episodic events. We design weekly content  so that it’s not so all encompassing in one day. We know everyone’s attention and time is difficult. So, this way we can get a little bit into everyone’s calendar every week. We’ve also become way more targeted so our sessions now are focused directly at the personas that we target whether that’s a sales person, a marketing person, a call center operator or a manager. That’s really opened up all sorts of opportunities for us. Because of the digital setup, online, you can bring in guests from around the world that maybe you couldn’t have had before. So, there are indeed a lot of opportunities available for everyone.

Do you think there are enough opportunities or as many as there used to? 

Like all things in marketing, you have to constantly reevaluate. In this second year of the pandemic, there is more competition for online events as everyone is starting to pivot. The quality varies a lot. We’ve invested a lot in a broadcast quality studio so that our quality is almost like watching a Netflix episode or a TV show. We never had that before. So I think there is an opportunity if you’re willing to invest and differentiate yourself. That said, like anything, you have to make sure that the return is there for what you’re trying to achieve. And if it’s not, there are other opportunities in marketing. We have a lot of things in our toolkit, and luckily in our roles.

Some say it’s become more important than ever for marketing and sales teams to work closely to meet company goals. Would you agree? 

Absolutely. Everyday, I think about my relationship with sales in particular. I tell my team there’s no point in us having metrics if they’re not agreed upon with our sales stakeholders. We are definitely here to help make their jobs easier. It’s a big part of our role. So you have to make sure that you have those shared metrics with sales. If you’re going to have your own metrics, make sure that they understand those. It’s also about the relationships you build because there are times when you will need help from each other to push programs through. When you’re doing well, you’re able to help them. But, I would say, share those metrics, make sure you are aligned and build those relationships whether they’re good times or bad times so that they’re there whenever you need them.

What marketing strategies do you use to support your sales team when it comes to lead generation and relationship building? 

We have a whole spectrum of technologies depending on what country inside the region. So we have markets like Australia which are quite mature and then we have markets in Southeast Asian Nations that are a little bit less mature for us. Our digital experience is a big part of what we do. We have low car specific websites across the region . We have a search engine marketing display and we have a social display pretty much all year round. On top of that, we have campaigns that are dedicated at our personas or industries that we target in those regions.

We have many solutions and it’s important that we target to the right person. For those more mature markets where we’re targeting CXOs – whether that be the CMO, or the CIO, we try to bring them together now a little more virtually. We offer those experiences to ensure that they have the ability to get the information they need. Underpinning all of that, there are many programs like our customer marketing, customer reference, social advocacy programs that happen all throughout the year. And of course, we   talk about our events already.

Can you share any best practices?

In my role, I try to lead by example in everything I do. I make sure I align myself with sales and with all of our stakeholders. I have many stakeholders across our organization whether that’s our partners team, our customer success team, my management or other folks in the marketing organization around the world. That’s key to ensuring that we’re always having the support that we need and also have someone to tap into to get good ideas and inspiration. 

Beyond that, well-being has been really important for us this past year and this current year. Some folks are working from home and can’t leave their home. Well-being and work-life balance is always top of mind for me so making sure you’re looking after your people whatever that may be, whether it’s giving them time off on certain days so they can catch up and reconnect with the things they are not able to do. We’ve implemented “No meetings Fridays” on my team to give everyone the ability to rank down towards the weekend. At the moment, we’re very fortunate to be able to offer the team a lot of benefits that relate to mental health. Never lose sight of well-being since you won’t succeed without it. 

And last but not the least, I would say impact. As a senior leader, if you’re not delivering impact as a team, then obviously you’re not going to get the investment and the resources you require. Keeping an eye on your goals and how you can keep pushing your boundaries through innovation is important. You need to keep that beginner’s mind open because there’s always a space for innovation especially in our market. That’s kind of what I enjoy most in marketing. We have no real boundaries of innovation or what we can try next.

What’s an event you hosted last year that you were most proud of? Why was it so good?

That world tour in Sydney is traditionally the biggest event of the region for us. 10,000 people came to Sydney to descend, to learn everything about Salesforce, our community, and our partners. But we had to pivot that in literally 10 days because it was just too risky for us to bring 10000 people where we didn’t know where they were coming from. I’m glad to say that the 10000 we normally get in person turned into 80,000 that tuned in into our online channel and about one and a half million through social channels. It was incredible just by the sheer amount of people and eyeballs that we had at the event. The event has a different experience in terms of the amount of content, the amount of thought leaders and so forth, and we were able to open that up to the region so I was very proud of what we achieved then.

What’s one piece of career advice you have received that’s been particularly valuable to you as a marketing leader?

If you’re able to pass on your values and bring it forward to your team, you’re going to be able to deliver an amazing amount of impact. In other words, you can do great things yourself and deliver incredible work for your organisation, but if you can inspire other people to do incredible work – whether that be through passing on knowledge or encouraging them, you can create an impact much larger than you could yourself.

“You can do great things yourself and deliver incredible work for your organisation, but if you can inspire other people to do incredible work – whether that be through passing on knowledge or encouraging them, you can create an impact much larger than you could yourself.”

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