SFDC Lost its Leg in Boston This Year

I attended the Salesforce World Tour Event in Boston yesterday and came away a bit underwhelmed.  I’ve attended it for the past four or five years, so that may be part of the reason I didn’t stay for the full day.

In attending, I had several topics top of mind:

  1. What is the future of Data.com?  Will it be phased out and when? If they are attriting 30% of their revenue this year (a Dun & Bradstreet estimate), how are they guiding their customers to AppExchange solutions in lieu of Data.com?
  2. How is Einstein being infused into their Sales Cloud?  How are they ensuring that Einstein Insights are based on accurate and timely data?
  3. What is the future of SalesforceIQ CRM technology (it is being decommissioned in 23 months)?
  4. Meeting with Sales and Marketing Intelligence vendors on the floor.

I stopped by several of their sales and platform booths, but nobody had any answers on Data.com.  This is the second year in a row in which there was no mention of data or the future of B2B prospecting, data enrichment, or sales intelligence at the event.  Salesforce has never been much of a data company.  They botched Data.com from Jigsaw acquisition through decommission.  A few months after announcing a detailed roadmap at Dreamforce, they cancelled their Dun & Bradstreet content partnership in early 2017.

Eintein Insights 1But if you are going to build analytics into your platform, license the iconic Einstein name for it, and tout it as an enabling technology for all of your clouds, then maybe you should have a strategy for ensuring that Einstein Insights are based upon quality data.

I did get to see a quick demo of Einstein Insights for the Sales Cloud.  It provides lead scoring with recommendations so a sales rep can see whether a lead is likely to convert (or other goals) and review the top reasons for the score.  It even goes so far as to recommend additional contacts but fails to justify those names.  It appeared the names were mined using the SalesforceIQ technology, but all that was demonstrated was the name — no title, level, or reason to reach out to that individual.  Salesforce is on the right track here but needs to expand its explanations for lead scores to its contact recommendations.

As to sales and marketing intelligence, there was only one vendor on the floor — Zoominfo.  They were demonstrating their new Clean and Complete services for Salesforce.  Clean provides batch account, contact, and lead record enrichment while Complete provides account, contact, and lead record appends during data entry and batch upload.  Due to the depth of the Zoominfo database, the Complete service has an 80% account match rate and a 65% contact match rate.

Both services support custom mapping.  Pricing is based upon record volume.

The keynote lacked the energy of prior years when Keith Block, COO, performed the duties.  While Sarah Franklin, EVP of Developer Relations did a fine job, Block is from Boston and made sure the event was localized.  Missing this year were sports heroes (e.g. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick) and the Drop Kick Murphys.  If you want to wake up a 10:00 AM keynote, the Drop Kicks and their Irish punk are a great way to do so.

I’m a sailor peg
And I’ve lost my leg
Climbing up the top sails
I’ve lost my leg!
I’m shipping up to Boston, whoa…
  • “I’m Shipping up to Boston,” Drop Kick Murphys

There was a presentation on Year Up (an inner city business training program) with a local success story, but the 75 minutes were basically rehashed Dreamforce partner videos and content with a focus on B2C.  Even the B2B example, 21st Century Fox, was equally a promo for “Dead Pool 2” and other Fox properties as it was a demo of Quip and its marketing and project management tools.  The distributor relations aspect of the story was a bit light.

So let’s bring back Keith Block next year and expand the exhibition space.  The Hynes Exhibitor Floor was too crowded, too hot, and too noisy.

I don’t mean to grouse.  Salesforce is a terrific company.  They have a strong social mission, a market leading product, and an ability to keep things fun.  It’s just that this year didn’t match prior Boston events, and the company has diversified into so many clouds and capabilities that the Sales Cloud and Sales Partner solutions get crowded out.

 

 

 

Sales Messaging & Analytics Tools

"Chili Piper helps your team book more meeting and impress your prospects. Schedule meetings directly within the SalesLoft platform, use meeting templates, and automatically record your meetings in Salesforce."
“Chili Piper helps your team book more meeting and impress your prospects. Schedule meetings directly within the SalesLoft platform, use meeting templates, and automatically record your meetings in Salesforce.”

Yesterday, I wrote about plans to integrate PointDrive into LinkedIn Sales Navigator.  This integration is part of a growing trend in SalesTech to tie together sales acceleration tools with information services and CRM/MAP platforms.  I have touched upon a few of these examples over the past few months so I thought I’d provide a quick recap:

Salesforce acquired RelationshipIQ in 2014 and now offers its messaging workflow tools to sales reps as SaleforceIQ and Salesforce Inbox.  These offerings reduce toggling between services and delivers insights to sales reps from social networks and the sales cloud.   SalesforceIQ recommends new accounts and contacts, offers pre-written email templates, and assists with calendaring meetings.  Other features include one-click email logging to Salesforce, cloud storage connectivity, and mobile apps.

Salesforce recently acquired the Quip messaging service and is rolling it into its service.  Quip re-envisions email and associated document creation tools as a single workflow for team document creation and commentary.

Salesforce Engage provides marketing approved emails and nurturing tracks to sales reps.  The Engage service is provided as part of their Pardot B2B marketing automation platform.

Sales Acceleration firm SalesLoft is building out its ecosystem with workflow partnerships to assist with prospecting, messaging, analytics, and workflows.  The SalesLoft ecosystem includes

  • Content partners such as InsideView, Datanyze, DiscoverOrg, and Owler
  • Workflow tools such as Sigstr (signature management) and Chili Piper (meeting scheduling)
  • Sales coaching vendors ExecVision (call transcription and analytics) and Crystal (executive psychographics

SalesLoft has additional partnerships in the works for 2017 including additional content, messaging,  and attachment analytics.

Likewise, sales acceleration vendor Outreach is also rolling out expanded analytics and partnerships.

Other sales acceleration vendors with partner ecosystems include Quota Factory and KiteDesk.

Finally, a few information services have build some sales acceleration tools into their services.  Salesgenie offers a phone dialer and integrated email support while RainKing has added a dialer service.

Lightning Strikes SFDC Again

SalesforceIQ Inbox_Hero
The SalesforceIQ Inbox provides a set of desktop and mobile productivity apps for which bring Salesforce intelligence to the email Inbox.

Salesforce.com had another beat and raise quarter where they beat expectations and raised their revenue guidance.  When you are growing at 27% year over year (28% once currency headwinds are factored in), it is easy to have a succession of beat and raise quarters — All you have to do is figure out how to add two billion dollars in revenue this year and then continue to do so geometrically every year forward.

On Wednesday’s earnings call, CEO Marc Benioff claimed that SFDC continues to invest heavily in its sales cloud platform while competitors have invested elsewhere.  Remarking on SFDC’s continued leadership position in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, he stated that

Everyone else kind of abandoned their technology in this area and they are trying to give it a lot of lip service, but the reality is there is just no comparison between what we have and what the other vendors have at this point.  It’s incredible and it comes through in our demos, it comes through in our wins, and it comes through in the core customer success.”

The Sales Cloud, their oldest and largest cloud, saw an acceleration in its growth rate due to its Salesforce1 “rebooting” combined with the new Lightning user experience which was designed as mobile first.  Other growth drivers were Pardot, their B2B marketing automation platform, and the recently acquired SteelBrick CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) service.

Lightning also supports the Force platform.  It’s mobile development capabilities help developers “rapidly build and expand and create these applications using Lightning and deploy them on all these different devices,” said Benioff.  “Lightning is so unique and so special in the industry.  It lets our customers build these applications quickly at a very low cost and deploy them across so many different platforms that we’re going to see a continued growth in core clouds.”

The Next Growth Driver: Artificial Intelligence

Benioff also discussed past and future growth drivers for Salesforce and the tech industry.  Past drivers include cloud computing and social with mobile as a key current driver.  Moving forward, growth will come from the integration of artificial intelligence across SFDC to improve customer experience and workflows.  Benioff provided the new SalesforceIQ Inbox service as an example:

[The] Salesforce Inbox is very exciting because it uses artificial intelligence and machine intelligence to work with our users, to work with our emails, to work with their calendars, and work with their CRM data to give them perspective ideas on exactly how do be more efficient in the sales, service, and marketing processes of their companies…

This is another major growth factor because it will appear in sales, it will appear in service, it will appear in marketing.

For the past few years, Benioff has been discussing the importance of being a customer company that interacts with customers across a broad set of platforms and departmental touch points with “systems of intelligence.”  It is along this front that SFDC has staked out its most recent competitive differentiation:

We’re in the midst of a massive generational shift; a new generation of customers and consumers is clearly emerging. We have been calling them here at Salesforce C generation customers. Customer generation, consumer generation that these are people who want it now, they want it fast, they want it easy, and they’re mobile, they’re social, they’re always on, and our customers are working to connect with the C generation in new ways, very exciting. I mean this is really part of a huge shift that’s happening in computing. We’ve gone from the first generation of computing which was very much about systems of record to the second generation which was systems of engagement we talked about that on these calls many times over the last 10 years. And we are clearly moving into this incredible world that the system of intelligence that’s all yielding these incredible systems of customers or C generation customers that are — that our customers are connecting to. And that’s we’re so excited about.

Focusing on the customer, delivering systems of intelligence, developing a mobile-first platform, betting on the cloud when the tech market is collapsing, and embracing social.  These decisions all seem obvious in retrospect, but in the fog of corporate battle, the trick is to identify and implement the next wave early and better than anybody else.  When you think about it, that’s easy — sort of like growing revenue by two billion dollars this year.