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Salesforce's next Move - Sales Cloud Supercharged?


Supercharged - Photo by RKTKN on Unsplash

The News

A few days ago Salesforce announced an update to its sales cloud that features Einstein powered predictions, insights, and productivity. The press release is linked above or alternatively you can read it below, along with some comments of mine.
Salesforce is (again) addressing the three main issues that plague CRM implementations since Tom Siebel coined this term. Let me paraphrase them>
1.     Salespeople do not find the time to do their job, which is selling. Instead they are spending an inordinate amount of time entering data that supposedly only helps their management controlling them a little more.
2.     Sales managers do not have enough visibility into what is going on in their area of responsibility, what their team is doing (and why), whether they are doing the right thing. The same problem, of course, applies to the Head of Sales, just at a bigger scale.
3.     Sales operations is charged with creating meaningful reports that tell the one single truth. This they need to do using data that resides somewhere, data that is distributed, instead of some central consolidated place. Data that is essentially not fully trustworthy.
Salesforce is doing this using a triple of features:
·      The Salesforce resident AI: Einstein to help sales persons identify the most promising opportunities to work upon
·      The Salesforce Inbox that increases productivity by attributing emails to the right accounts as well as connecting to the calendar
·      Sales Analytics to help salespeople and their management to visualize, interpret, and use the available data

The Press Release

Ask any rep what their favorite part of the day is, and chances are that their answers won’t involve the words “logging” or “data.” Ask managers what they really want from their sales teams, and I bet you that they’ll ask for more visibility into what their reps are doing and for their reps to spend more time talking to customers, building relationships. As for sales operations? They probably would prefer if answering business questions didn’t involve four systems, two excel sheets, and a pivot table.
These traditional systems don’t set sales teams up for success today or in the future. In fact, having all of these disparate systems causes sales reps to spend 25% of their time logging data instead of doing what really matters -- building relationships and selling. Which is why we’re introducing a supercharged Sales Cloud Einstein. Bringing together Sales Cloud Einstein, Salesforce Inbox, and Sales Analytics, to deliver more predictions, insights and productivity gains than ever before. It’s bringing the power of artificial intelligence to every step of the sales process. So how does it all work? Great question. Let’s break it down.
AI with Sales Cloud Einstein
AI is continuing to take center stage, revolutionizing the way we work. With Einstein, AI prioritizes focus on the most critical areas to help every sales rep increase their productivity and win rates. Features like Einstein Lead Scoring can turn mountains of data into critical signals that have the power of identifying the leads that are most likely to convert, and Einstein Opportunity Scoring can identify a poorly-performing opportunity proactively so a sales rep can keep it on track -- before it falls off. Einstein Opportunity Insights give reps the ability to address at-risk deals and learn best practices from the most successful ones. And, when reps are armed with the right insights about their accounts’ businesses, conversations become more efficient and effective, enabling reps to sell more.

Productivity with Salesforce Inbox
Did you know that on average, sales reps spend 64% of their time on non-selling tasks like data entry? With Salesforce Inbox reps can maximize the time they spend selling by taking advantage of automated data capture--all of those emails are logged to the right records, automatically. With built-in email productivity, reps can eliminate the hassle of scheduling meetings. Plus, they can see their top email priorities, right on their phones, and, get visibility into their opportunities, leads, accounts, and contacts.

Reports and Dashboards with Sales Analytics
Instead of exporting, collating, aligning and analyzing, sales teams can just click in to built-in analytics, with ready-made dashboards that make it easy to understand and explore whitespace and team performance. Reps can uncover pipeline trends, and take action immediately. Sales leaders can understand how the team is functioning across regions and products, and identify top sellers, as well as those that may need more coaching. And, it’s easy to analyze deals from lead to close with over 40 out-of-the-box KPIs.
By combining all three products, we’re able to create a Sales Cloud Einstein that is a predictive data scientist for every sales team. A constant companion that drives productivity through efficiency and insights. No more point systems, no more multiple contracts, no more copy-and-paste, no more switching. Just a clean, easy, modern solution to make every company a smarter, more efficient, more productive, customer-focused company.
Sales Cloud Einstein (now including Salesforce Inbox and Sales Analytics) is priced at $50 per user, per month.
Click here to learn more about Sales Cloud Einstein.

The Bigger Picture

Artificial intelligence / machine learning will continue to permeate business applications. The good news is that there is less and less talk about AI, if not in a kind of personal way, like Einstein or Leonardo (and yeah, I know that Leonardo does not only cover AI). This shows that the big vendors are more and more going away from a technology narrative to a results narrative. AI is not a means by itself but a means to an end. And this end is doing more with less effort.

My PoV and Analysis

By addressing these three pain points of sales teams Salesforce is partly using some pages out of the Nimble playbook. Especially the mobile app for the Salesforce Inbox looks remarkably familiar to me. I do not say that this is a copy, but that moves like this one are actually inevitable, and that CRM (and CEM) solutions will become ever more similar.
The combination of these three features and how they are laid out now tells the same story that I heard about the same time from clari, a company founded in 2013 and that focuses on “transforming the way they [companies] sell, make decisions, and grow”.
Now, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft are telling the same story.
This, along with the observation that even small companies are more and more referring to the term platform, reiterates that business applications are commoditizing fast and that the main battleground is becoming the fabric of a business, i.e. becoming the platform of choice.
For Salesforce this is an important move as, all Salesforce “hype” taken away, there is a perception out in the market that the Salesforce architecture is aging.
On top of this Salesforce is not a bargain (judging by the list prices) nor is the company riding on a high profitability.
And the other 3 of the big four can tell end-to-end stories that cover the full value chain. Plus all of the big four are clawing their way from the enterprise market down to the midmarket and eventually the smaller businesses, which is the place where the opportunity lies.
With that, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP being able to tell a story of a more modern platform, and being attacked by small and nimble players that can ride on Salesforce’s and other platforms, Salesforce needs to continue to show that it is on the forefront of innovation with the benefits of all user groups in mind.
I think that this worked out fine with this release. Salesforce is at least on par with the competition.
But is this a super charged sales cloud? No, it isn’t. Unless the previous engine was seriously underpowered – which it wasn’t.
The race towards becoming the platform of choice continues.

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