Retired and Retried

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Sometimes a team needs one of its members to get the ball rolling. For Prudential Financial, a Fortune 500 company with a presence in 30 countries, that member was its 401(k) retirement division. Dissatisfied with its CRM system and its process for tracking leads, the United States division of Prudential’s retirement business sought out Salesforce.com in spring 2009 to breathe new life into a lethargic customer-retention program and to integrate the sales team from a recent acquisition. That one business unit got the ball rolling, all right—a year later, all of Prudential’s U.S. business units had signed on with Salesforce.com.

For seven years, Prudential Retirement’s CRM vendor was Onyx (which has since been acquired by Consona), but eventually its legacy software was no longer supported and the solution wasn’t growing to suit employees’ needs. When James Cornell became Prudential’s chief marketing officer in 2008, he encouraged the group to find a solution that would give team members access to a single data repository for client and prospect records. Cornell brought in Forrester Research to facilitate the request-for-proposal (RFP) process and to land the best software for the company’s needs; Salesforce.com’s promise of a quick-to-deploy cloud-computing solution ultimately got the nod. 

With systems integration partner Deloitte, Prudential completed the implementation in 16 weeks. Integration work included a connection to The Sant Group’s sales-proposal software to automate the creation of RFPs and marketing documents. (For a look at Sant’s own Salesforce deployment, see our November 2009 special report.) Additionally, Prudential Financial hooked Salesforce to enterprise resource planning software from SAP and IBM Lotus Notes. 

One key factor: MullinTBG, a provider of benefit services acquired by Prudential in October 2008, had already been running on Salesforce CRM, and linking the organizations was expected to yield new cross-selling opportunities. “Twelve months ago we had no leads being generated from our defined-contribution 401(k) client base to MullinTBG,” Cornell says. “Today, we have over 40 qualified deals in the pipeline which will result in tens of millions of dollars of new revenue.”

Cornell says that unifying the retirement business on Salesforce immediately improved information sharing, lead flow, and reporting. “Even just management and reporting of ‘Who are our largest clients?’—we didn’t have that before,” he adds. The software, he says, has enabled the retirement organization to be more proactive and relevant in reaching out to clients—old and new. Armed with visibility into client accounts and historical transactions, salespeople can be more “consultative in their approach,” he says.

As a result, Prudential Retirement boosted client retention from 94 percent in 2008 to 97 percent in 2009—and saw revenue jump 10 percent in the process. “[Retention] is a huge source of revenue,” Cornell insists, “because our existing clients are more profitable than our new clients.”

That solid performance caught the eye of other Prudential business units that were, according to Cornell, “for the longest time sitting on their existing solutions and not willing to think about a new CRM platform.” He continues, “We demonstrated that we can turn around a full CRM implementation in four months. The [Salesforce] project showed that, with discipline, these projects can be done so fast—and now other U.S. businesses are following us as a role model.” By August 2009, 950 of Prudential Retirement’s sales, support, marketing, and relationship management employees were armed with Salesforce logins; as of June 2010, the rest of Prudential’s six businesses had either deployed Salesforce or were in the process of doing so. 

Unification has also opened up new possibilities, including the development of PruForce, a nationwide, enterprisewide CRM platform built on Salesforce.com’s Force.com framework. Remember those 40 in-the-pipeline leads made possible by integrating data across retirement units? Well, Cornell describes them as “a tiny drop in the bucket” compared to the benefits Prudential expects—and is already seeing—from PruForce. “We’ve really lacked a cross-U.S. business CRM platform,” he says, “[but] we are actually now seeing cross-divisional referrals.” 

Overall, Cornell says, Prudential closed $27 billion in new business in 2009. “This was our best year ever—in a very challenging market,” he says, “and reflects how using Salesforce.com gave us great, real-time information allowing us to focus our efforts on those markets that offered the most immediate opportunity.” More real-time information is on the way: Prudential is evaluating the new Salesforce Chatter collaboration product to give business units a voice. 


With Salesforce.com software, Prudential Retirement has:

  • generated leads and cross-sell opportunities—more than 40 qualified leads in the pipeline to date, with an estimated revenue gain of tens of millions of dollars—by linking its client base to that of a recently acquired provider;
  • increased revenue by 10 percent;
  • increased client retention from 94 percent in 2008 up to 97 percent in 2009; and
  • reduced cost of sales by 15 percent.

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