Zillow began as a media company generating revenue by selling advertising on its website, a search engine for Real Estate listings.
Fast forward to 2022, the company is a Real Estate marketplace that facilitates the buying and selling of residential properties throughout the United States.
Salesforce Business Analysts
Beginning in 2016, the Salesforce footprint at Zillow began to evolve from a lightweight CRM application, primarily used to manage Ad Sales Operations for the company, into a piece of critical technology infrastructure powering all ‘Frontline’ teams.
This large digital transformation was a result of Zillow’s changing business model from a media style, advertising driven monetization strategy as a Real Estate search engine into the current business model, which is a marketplace facilitating the buying and selling of residential real estate throughout the United States.
Let’s take a look at how their business model evolved, the Salesforce tools needed to facilitate that change, and the Salesforce team they build to lead the efforts.
What does Zillow do exactly?
In the early days, Zillow was a media company.
They had a directory-style search engine that displayed real estate listings. The company generated revenue by serving display ads to site visitors. Pretty simple.
Today, Zillow is a full-fledged Digital Real Estate Brokers, that not only purchases homes directly but then facilitates the re-sale of those homes and guides customers through the buying process, including facilitating loans and mortgages.
The team responsible for managing this end-to-end journey is called Frontline.
The umbrella of services that fall under Frontline, include:
- Zillow Offers: the first point of contact with a Real Estate broker for individuals interested in selling their home to Zillow.
- Zillow Agent: after initiating the sale of their home (to Zillow), there is a handoff to Zillow Agents, an outside broker that helps with the purchasing of their next home
- Zillow Closing Services & Zillow Home Loans: both services offered to ease in the home buying process as part of the interconnected experience
How does Zillow use Salesforce?
The Salesforce footprint at Zillow includes Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Einstein, and Pardot.
Use of Service Cloud in this stage of the process allows Advisors to open a case about a home’s offer price and estimate when those requests come in from prospective sellers.
This is the bulk of the Sales process at Zillow, so significant tooling has been scaled for Sales Tools infrastructure, including:
Allows sales reps to leave prerecorded messages, saving time on every call that goes to voicemail instead of leaving a unique message each time.
Ensure that every interaction is structured to guide the teams through streamlined outreach plans with email templates, call scripts, and custom steps that are proven to work.
Team members can access a to-do list for their entire day — every call, email, and outreach activity is laid out and scheduled.
Prior to adopting Sales Engagement, part of the Sales Cloud offering, Zillow Agents were making 65-90 calls per day. Now, they make 150+ calls per day.
Lead Scoring via Einstein
Removes the guesswork out of which leads are most likely to close, helps Sales Reps prioritize their activities around the right prospects and allows Sales Leadership to set realistic expectations on lead volume, pipeline conversion rates, and more.
As part of the closing process, Zillow gives access to Field Service teams like estimators or inspectors, who can submit a case through Salesforce mobile app regarding problems identified during inspection.
Salesforce Team at Zillow
In the early days of operating with a simple advertising focused revenue strategy, Salesforce functioned as a simple Sales and Service Cloud instance, primarily managing their B2B accounts (i.e. Advertisers).
Prior to 2016, the Salesforce team consisted of no more than 2-3 Salesforce Administrators and a Product Owner helping to guide the CRM roadmap.
As the business started evolving in 2016, the business required significantly more horsepower from Salesforce, wider feature adoption, more complex workflow automations, and the team began to grow in size and capability.
While still having a modest group of Salesforce Admins and Product Owners, Zillow began hiring Salesforce Engineers, going from 0 to 5 by the end of 2016.
Much of the team remained the same heading into 2017 but the Salesforce Development team 2x in size, ending 2017 with 10 Salesforce Engineers (to 4 Salesforce Administrators).
Similar story in 2018 as Zillow continued to focus on hardcore development to extend the functionality of Salesforce, adding another 5 Salesforce Engineers to the team and ending the year with 15.
2019 - Present
Incremental growth in the team continued over the last 4 years.
The Salesforce Administrator group expanded to it’s current form of 15 Admins, Zillow added 2-3 Salesforce Architects to guide more complex platform and integration architecture, and the Salesforce Development capabilities scaled modestly to reach a current team of 18 Salesforce Engineers.
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