With less than a week to go until Dreamforce, CRM giant Salesforce is already making major announcements that foreshadow the focus of its flagship event. It has "reimagined" both its customer support and sales software, branding them in a way that ties them more closely to the Salesforce1 development platform.
The newly renamed Sales Cloud1 offers a slew of new mobile capabilities, including a tool called Today that serves up personalized tasks, dashboards, meeting schedules, weather and other relevant information with the idea that sales professionals can use it to boost the knowledge about a sales prospect prior to a meeting.
Other new SalesCloud 1 features include:
Tasks, a tool that is linked to customer records within the larger Salesforce CRM system, and so automatically links an action item such as "follow up with Customer X on May 1" to the relevant account. Sales people can also assign a "to-do" designation, defer an action or mark a task as complete.
Notes, a tool that automatically links to contacts or accounts and is connected to customer records within Salesforce, so that notes entered by sales people are automatically linked to the contact record. Sales reps can also turn their notes into a to-do list within the Tasks app.
Events, a feature that allows sales reps to access and update meetings and events in Salesforce directly from their mobile devices.
Sales Path, a coaching feature designed to help sales reps advance a prospect through deal stages by recommending sales engagement tools at different stages of the sales process.
Skills and Rewards, a tool that helps sales reps identify coworkers with the expertise needed to advance a deal. It also includes a feature that lets them reward colleagues for their help with a gift card.
Sales Data, a feature that leverages a new partnership with Thomson Reuters to deliver relevant news about sales pros' top accounts, contacts and industries.
While Sales Cloud1 is now generally available, several of the new features will not become available until next year.
More Mobile, Social Customer Service
Salesforce has also retooled its customer service software, packing it with more social and mobile capabilities. One of the most interesting new features of the newly renamed Service Cloud1 is SOS for Apps, a mobile solution modeled on the Amazon's Mayday button for the Fire Phone and Kindle Fire HDX tablet. Customers needing assistance can use it to connect with an agent for on-screen guided assistance and screen sharing. Agents using the tool will be able to see what's happening on the customer's mobile device and even draw on the screen.
A redesigned agent console pushes dynamic content to agents around known issues, highlighting the resources most often used to resolve cases, enabling them to solve customer problems faster without digging through disjointed databases.
Another new Service Cloud1 feature called Communities enables companies to quickly spin up branded service communities powered by the Salesforce Community Cloud. So, for example, a retailer could create a self-service community to help customers find answers and share information about a highly anticipated new product or one that saw a sudden spike in popularity.
Salesforce.com is also rolling out Desk Connect, an integration tool that syncs data from its Desk1 customer service application for small and medium-sized businesses to its CRM system. According to Salesforce, it also gives SMBs a migration path from Desk1 to Service Cloud1 so they can easily switch from one to the other as their customer service needs grow.
The new Service Cloud1 features are all generally available today, with the exception of SOS for Apps, which is currently in private beta. The new agent console is included with Service Cloud1 user licenses. There are added costs for the other new features.
Salesforce's Sales1 and Service1 announcements seem to play into its customers' desire for more cloud and mobile solutions. According to the annual "State of Salesforce" report released yesterday by consulting firm Bluewolf, 54 percent of Salesforce customers use two or more clouds. Service Cloud is one of the most popular, used by 46 percent of customers. In addition, 89 percent of customers already use Salesforce1 mobile solutions, with 45 percent of them planning to increase their mobile investments in the next 12 months.