At Dreamforce, Michelle Huff, VP of Product Marketing at SFDC, noted the historical evolution of CRM from a system of record to a system of engagement. This shift reduced data entry and supported mobile, social, and account maintenance. SFDC is now evolving into a system of intelligence which enables account planning, account awareness, and recommendations from within the Sales Cloud. This evolution can be seen in enhancements to Data.com (my next post) and the newly launched SalesforceIQ for Small Business and SalesforceIQ for Sales Cloud services
The goal of SalesforceIQ is to shift CRM from relationship management to relationship intelligence while automating key activities and proactively suggesting tasks and making recommendations. Thus, if a prospect states in an email, “can we connect to discuss a contract?” SalesforceIQ flags the request and schedules it as a high priority task
The service is built on the 2014 acquisition of RelateIQ and mines emails, calendars, marketing apps, and other data sources to gather customer data. The service offers “smarter selling” through lead prioritization and relationship capital management (RCM) recommendations concerning contact introductions. The RCM feature is integrated into inboxes, mobile (Android, iOS), and Chrome apps.
Other mobile features include an integrated inbox with the CRM, email shortcuts to quickly enter common phrases, cloud storage integration, and a notifications feed. For users in Gmail on Chrome, a plug in ties Gmail back to SalesforceIQ and supports its tools from within the Chrome browser.
The new service “seeks out the patterns needed to provide insights into future outcomes and proactively recommends actions to build stronger relationships with customers and accelerate sales,” said Salesforce. “SalesforceIQ for Small Business manages deals, accelerates pipelines and proactively guides SMBs through every step of the sales process, allowing them to focus on closing deals and building 1:1 relationships with their customers.”
The Small Business service is generally available in the US, Canada, and Australia and is priced as low as $25 per user per month for up to five users. For $65 per user per month, the system provides potential introductions, CRM data in your Inbox, Sales and Activity reports, and direct integrations. SalesforceIQ is offering 14 day free trials. Pricing is based on annual contracts.
The Sales Cloud edition is currently free in beta with general availability in early 2016. Sales Cloud pricing will be announced at general availability. The beta version is English only with additional languages planned. The Sales Cloud version includes a new email app where “Salesforce is your Inbox” connected to the Sales Cloud. The system automatically associates emails with contacts. Users can create opportunities from the app, respond back to the prospect with macro-based comments, and schedule a meeting using the scheduling assistant.
“Today’s massive influx in communication data creates powerful signals about the health and potential of business relationships. It also creates a lot of noise,” said Steve Loughlin, CEO of SalesforceIQ, Salesforce. “With SalesforceIQ, companies can now make sense of this data and pull out insights to drive their businesses forward with intelligence.”
The service promises standard sales intelligence benefits including reduced time gathering data, smarter selling, and immediate benefits with no setup costs and easy onboarding. Along with RCM and opportunity prioritization, the service provides read receipts, suggested tasks, dynamic scheduling to improve calendaring, and shortcuts which “allow customers to quickly insert commonly used phrases to reduce time spent composing emails.”
It should be noted that SalesforceIQ is not prioritizing leads, but providing a set of recommended actions based upon the semantic mining of emails. Thus, the system evaluates whether a customer has asked a question or has been untouched for a while. Through machine learning, the system tailors recommendations based upon each reps’ style.
An Opportunities Intelligence report provides “instant visibility” into account status by providing metrics such as days in current status, inactive days, last communication date, and next follow up due date. A stream view provides “a centralized view of all communications between your team and the customer.” Users can leave comments in the stream and @reference coworkers for a quick response or follow up.
Calendaring is improved by a Chrome extension app that inserts free times into messages, manages the auto invite process with the customer or prospect, and creates the meeting in the user’s calendar.
Integration partners include MailChimp, Hubspot, and Pardot.
Beta customers include ClassPass and News Corp.
Jamie Grenney, VP of Marketing at predictive marketer Infer, commended Salesforce for implementing basic predictive tools into its product line noting that “these improvements will help Salesforce with product adoption for a large swath of its customers.” Grenney continued that the SalesforceIQ offering “only scratches the surface of what predictive can do” as it is limited to internal email and calendar data and lacks external data. “There are many other data sources that can provide important clues. These signals that go into a model are different from one company to the next. Without a solid understanding of a company’s process, their data, and what outcome they’re trying to predict, it is difficult or even dangerous to build custom-fit models. You run the risk of setting bad targets, overfitting models, and ultimately making the wrong recommendations.”
“SalesforceIQ is designed to capture inferential data from emails, meetings, and logged calls and then present intelligent suggestions and timely reminders for things like new meeting appointments and follow-up actions,” said Nancy Nardin of Smart Selling Tools. “I love the concept of using inferential data to eliminate time spent on searching for past activity for the purpose of formulating action plans and next steps. However, the solution has a long way to go before it can be wholly relied on.”
In short, SalesforceIQ sounds like a sales rep toolkit which offers small ways to improve rep efficiency and task awareness. It is not so much focused on surfacing new insights but in reducing task work, leveraging colleague relationships, and ensuring prospects do not fall between the cracks. As such, Salesforce is a baby step in the “System of Intelligence” evolution.