Salesforce Making its CRM software "smarter" is a theme Salesforce has been hitting pretty hard. Last summer it paid $390 million for data science startup RelateIQ, a purchase that RelateIQ cofounder and CEO Steve Loughlin promised in a blog post would "extend the value of Salesforce's #1 CRM apps and platform with a new level of intelligence across sales, service and marketing."
Earlier this year Salesforce added an intelligence engine to its Service Cloud. The engine automates customer service agent workflow by determining the best agent to assign to each case, based on factors such as an agent's skills, their case history and current workload.
Now the company is adding similar intelligence based on RelateIQ's technology to its Sales Cloud. The technology pulls in information from email, calendar and phone interactions, analyzes it and offers insights designed to improve sales representatives' relationships with their prospects and customers.
In beta now, SalesforceIQ for Sales Cloud is available as an app for iOS or Android or as an extension to the Chrome browser. Salesforce expects it to become generally available in early 2016, and pricing will be announced then.
SalesforceIQ aims to make CRM more proactive, said Tim Fletcher, VP of Product, SalesforceIQ. Right now, he said, sales teams "spend lots of time just dealing with email and are overwhelmed." Many salespeople do not have time to enter data into the CRM system; those who do spend more time doing data entry than interacting with prospects and customers.
SalesforceIQ draws data from interactions, enters it automatically into the CRM and proactively offers suggested actions. For example, it determines which leads are the most promising so salespeople can prioritize those. As Fletcher explained, the system automatically checks to see if any Sales Cloud records are associated with a person upon first contact. If there are, it surfaces them for the salesperson. If not, the sales rep can create a new lead and begin working it directly from the application, sending product information and creating reminders for follow-up, for example.
A scheduling tool especially popular with RelateIQ clients and now available in SalesforceIQ streamlines the process of scheduling meetings by allowing a rep to send an invite with several options from his or her calendar. When the contact selects a time, it's booked on both calendars. Because the tool is dynamic, if a client selects a time it is then removed from communications with other clients.
Entry Level CRM for SMBs
Salesforce is also introducing SalesforceIQ for Small Business, a self-contained application that aims to be the new entry point into the Salesforce portfolio by giving small businesses access to similar technology that automatically captures activity and proactively prompts salespeople to take action. If a rep receives an email from a contact with a question and forgets to respond, for example, the system prompts him to do so.
A tool called Closest Connections helps sales pros identify colleagues from their company or contacts from other networks who have already interacted with a prospect so they know who can make an introduction.
SalesforceIQ for Small Business is available now, with a monthly price beginning at $25 per user. Free trials of the software are available, said Elise Bergeron, VP of Marketing, Salesforce IQ.
With the introduction of these new products, RelateIQ will no longer be available as a separate technology.
Salesforce is not the only company that offers sales software with built-in intelligence. Several startups sell applications that analyze sales interactions with the aim of surfacing relevant information and boosting productivity, including Clari, ToutApp and TinderBox.
Last month Salesforce introduced the Lightning Experience, a more modern-looking interface for the Sales Cloud that also includes built-in analytics and tools that allow administrators to customize the software and map it to a company's specific sales processes.