Why am I writing this? It’s quite simple – Salesforce came into my life and changed the way our company Prism Employee Benefits does business.

I’m a simple guy, so here’s a simple answer – Yes it has made a huge difference to our business but more so to our clients and their Employees. The trick is how do you quantify it, make it real.

So, I’ll go back to day one with Emile from Cloudsmiths, South Africa’s Platinum Salesforce Partner.

I said, “So Emile, what can Salesforce actually do for us?”, his response was, “well pretty much anything you can think of”.

That was exciting for me, as I’ve had a few Holy Grail’s over the years and finally this new 4th Industrial Revolution IT world was going to give me solutions.

Have you ever travelled? Well if you have, you’ll know of this dilemma: arriving in Rome, you hire a car, you’re driving on the wrong side of the road and now it’s a long left and short right. You have the map on your lap, looking for Rome because we were educated to believe that all roads lead to Rome. Well they don’t, they lead to the hidden city of Uscita and try as you might, you will never find it. A huge marketing budget but no follow through.

Get to France and head to Paris. That’s what France is all about, the iconic Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe but no – all roads lead to Sortie, another well marketed hidden city. Finally, you head for London, at least they understand how roads should be used… ‘Londonium’ the centre of our Anglophone world, but no they too have a hidden city, also well marketed and every road leads there. However, when you take the road, you simply never find Exit! Who spent all this money on a place you cannot find? Go try it, follow their directions and see where it gets you.

Gary van den Berg speaking at the Salesforce Conference in Cape Town

So no,  Salesforce could not help with these mind sapping dilemmas, and they too have their own issues with that place ‘Logout’. Click how you like, you can never find it. However, Support is always polite when I ask.

So, what was the point of telling you about these repeated Dead Ends? No, I’m not a ‘doffie’.

Our business is in the Financial Services Industry. The one with all the acronyms you are meant to know, and concepts you simply cannot get your head around – like infinity. Most of you are at a ‘dead end’ in really understanding where you are on your journey to retirement. How many engagements with advisors have you had that lead nowhere, the cash went somewhere but you got the ‘experience’.

So, do you have enough cash to pay yourself for 20 to 30 years? It’s a big number, even if you are saving 75% of your final salary, (which the clever guys say is the bare minimum) when you reach 65. Do you want to get into that race of Death or Poverty?

Our area of expertise is Employee Benefits i.e. Retirement Funds, yep, something you all need unless you are planning a short right before 65. In which case the Risk cover will do its job. That acronym NRD – Normal Retirement Date – what’s normal about losing your job and income stream at 65? Think about the problem, as its real.

As you know it’s an Industry going through change. Actually, I don’t believe that – I think it’s the consumer saying we have had enough of being ripped off and treated like Mushrooms and fed the stuff Bulls make.

Yes, and this is where Salesforce and Cloudsmiths made a difference – a Real Difference. Because instead of being like the rest, and being Company facing. Salesforce has allowed us to be truly Member-centric, whilst maintaining Independence and using best of breed options at appropriate pricing – thus insuring that more cash actually gets to the investment account – with Zero leakage.

Next year the New Default Regulations come into play. They are the sharp end of the Consumers stick, driven by the Regulator, and it’s all about transparency, Appropriateness and Sustainability. That as a collective, with Education and one-on-one engagement, improves Retirement outcomes and cuts unnecessary costs.

Yes, your Fund now needs to ensure that every member gets appropriate advice – Let’s think about that for a moment – talking to every single member and giving them holistic advice based on the appropriateness of their Companies Retirement Fund. Historically you have all been a number in a group, a faceless group, now here you are with your unique needs, and we can help you. We are not here to sell you more policies, but to ensure that you spend money where you will get the best return, with absolute transparency.

I’m proud to say that our Salesforce Cloudsmiths journey has culminated in an excess of 45% growth in our business annuity income in this year alone, plus we have cut staff, improved SLA’s. Most importantly though, we have given every member a voice to ask and be engaged with us on their mobile device, with a fully independent non-perverse offering. So, ‘Yes’, Salesforce has allowed us to be a Disruptor, has allowed us to change thousands of lives whilst remaining unique and true to our core principle of – ‘We will make a Difference’.

The holistic approach now allows us to have meaningful individual engagement and see the process through to it completeness. Why do I say that? As an example, many of you will have filled out Beneficiary nomination forms in which you may have nominated kids as beneficiaries, especially the single moms – well the uncomfortable truth is that the money will not get there anytime soon if you don’t have a will and a logical flow of funds that is compliant.

Now think about tracking all those pieces of paper and then honouring the 48-hour pay-out of Risk to the correct beneficiaries. You can’t just stop there, you actually have to make sure that the money is spent positively and holds the family together. Without Salesforce it’s generally an empty promise, retirement funding comfort has also been an empty promise to the average South African who ends up with a 60% salary cut the day they retire.

Salesforce has allowed us to grow, to be more professional, but most importantly we are able to be more relevant in our client’s lives and to earn their trust. Pardot allows us to nurture, educate, incubate and build meaningful strategies with our client companies that allow us to put the ‘Benefit’ back in Employee Benefits.

Thank You Salesforce and Cloudsmiths you truly have ‘made a Difference’