The “Sales Cloud” has been salesforce’ core product for years and driven their success and reputation. And it is recognized as such: Gartner has identified salesforce as the magic quadrant leader for years! Salesforce is quite confident as well, leading with sales improvement metrics, like 38% pipe growth, 45% forecast accuracy and 36% increased sales productivity using Sales Cloud. While I generally don’t trust any statistics I didn’t calculate myself, they do present the confidence of a market leader, similar to Siebel many years ago or SAP for the ERP space. But what’s truly new about Sales Cloud this year?
One of the highlights is the enablement of the new platform to “sell faster outside”, allowing field sales people to sell from anywhere on mobile devices. While mobile enablement is not new, in fact it is a basic requirement and every CRM solution provider will tout their mobile capabilities and show case some cool things, the key is really how much of their daily job a sales representative can do on-the-go! Through new apps from salesforce as well as through private app stores from the customer, sales reps can now access a lot more than the basics from their mobile devices: accessing compensation information, electronic signing of contacts or access to product information are all helpful to untie them from their desk and increase their productivity. More importantly, it provides a chance to make the solution part of the daily process, instead of being the dreaded “data entry” task at the end of the week/month that has killed the adoption of many a CRM solution… An interesting side note is the “Feed First UI” salesforce adopted – it seems like a nod to the UI first introduced by SAP for their Cloud Sales offering and well liked by customers.
The second important news is the sales console for inside sales people. Historically, CRM solutions have been focused on the sales representatives who brought in the big deals for the company or sales operations providing all the needed sales data for decision making. Yet, in the last few years, inside sales has taken on an important role in the overall sales effort and growth of inside sales has outpaced field sales in many companies. Getting the right information to inside sales, enabling better insights into your prospects and the ability to target marketing activities to individual prospects or groups of prospects are all key to successful inside sales. This is an underrated capability in many CRM solution selections and well worth the attention.
The third news is not product related. I have personally gotten a lot of questions whether “the cloud” is ready for the “big leagues”, for large companies and mission critical data and the best answer is really to show case just that: Salesforce featured the HP sales solution project, enabling more than 30,000 sales people with 177,000 partners and more than 1 billion customers in the cloud. It doesn’t get much bigger than that and is a proof point of the maturity of cloud solutions for any size of customer.
The lessons learned on the HP project also mirrored what I have seen over and over: It’s not really the solution alone, but how it is done. HP focused on implementing with speed and good executive engagement. Instead of “re-platforming the platform” (what a create quote from David Ornellas, SVP HP), they standardized their organization, processes and data. They also spent more time with first line managers to drive adoption. All of those are great messages to head for any cloud implementation!
All together, my key take-aways from the new Sales Cloud are the much improved mobile support, innovative support for inside sales, full scalability of the Sales Cloud for any size organization and focus on successful implementation to realize the benefits of the new solution!