Connected digital technologies are bringing a transformation in how enterprises interact with their customers, and the sales profession is right in the vanguard of these huge changes. Several key changes in the nature of selling are reflected in new features that CRM giant Salesforce is adding to Sales Cloud, its flagship sales automation platform, and which it unveiled yesterday to coincide with the London leg of its World Tour conference series.
Delivered either as part of the top-tier Sales Cloud Unlimited package, or as add-ons to the next tier Enterprise edition, the new features include various new AI-powered recommendations, intelligent workflow automation, call coaching and insights based on digital recording and transcription of calls and meetings, self-service subscription processes, and industry-specific revenue management dashboards. There is also a Slack for Sales Cloud package to connect sales processes into the Slack messaging app. During the day, I sat down with Ketan Karkhanis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Sales Cloud, to discuss how these various features reflect the changes customers have been seeing in how their sales teams work with customers.
Before I get to that, it’s worth noting that Salesforce wasn’t the only CRM vendor with product news yesterday. Microsoft announced a new app called Viva Sales, which connects from CRM apps into Teams, Outlook and Office. This maps to some of the same trends mentioned above, using the Teams messaging platform and underlying AI capabilities from Microsoft 365 to help automate sales workflows and provide intelligent recommendations and reminders. It will come with out-of-the-box integration to Salesforce as well as Microsoft Dynamics 365, with public preview due next month and general availability following later in the year. I’ll have more to say on that in ‘My take’ below.
Adapting to virtual sales calls
All this change has been bewildering for B2B sales professionals, who “have lost all their tools of trade,” says Karkhanis. Instead of building relationships in traditional face-to-face environments, they’ve had to adapt to virtual encounters, and yet the tools haven’t kept pace. This week’s announcements aim to fill that gap, as he explains: