The Current State & Future of Salesforce Sales Cloud

The Salesforce Sales Cloud holds a whopping 31.3% market share of any Sales CRM. It was the first product Salesforce created back in 1999, and it continues to outshine any Sales CRM on the market.

But since the recent surge in remote work, sales have changed forever. In-person meetings are no longer the default option when it comes to contacting a client, and Salesforce have had to adapt rapidly to these changes. I sat down with Ketan Karkhanis, EVP & GM of Sales Cloud, to understand what the future of Sales Cloud holds…

Current State of Sales Cloud

Sales Cloud has long been the CRM of choice for the vast majority of enterprises around the world, providing a robust and scalable system that allows sales reps to manage their customers, interactions, and pipeline. But is this enough for the future of selling? In a word, no.

Buyers’ expectations have completely shifted, and they are now demanding more from the businesses they engage with. They want to be able to contact the business on a channel that suits them and build a proper relationship with the firm before proceeding with the deal.

“We need to pause for a minute and talk about how this is impacting sellers. This has created a new opportunity to connect the dots, and understand customers better.”

– Ketan Karkhanis

In fact, according to a Salesforce report earlier in the year, 88% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services – and all of this starts with sales.

This is why, over the past few years, Salesforce has been building up its arsenal of intelligent features that can surface insights about your customers and pipeline. The key word here is “Intelligence” – a well managed Salesforce org will have an abundance of structured data and it’s time to put it to work.

Features and products that have been released over the past few years to support this new way of selling include Sales Cloud Einstein, Revenue Intelligence, and Sales Engagement.

“Sales Cloud is a product that’s been around for over 20 years, but we are only just getting started.”

– Ketan Karkhanis

Whilst the above products address the intelligence aspect of selling, looking at some of the challenges, as well as opportunities, that come with remote selling, requires a different approach…

The Future of Sales Cloud

2022 was the first large-scale in-person Dreamforce since 2019, and the perfect stage for Salesforce to showcase what their future of selling looked like.

“What was more a system of record, is now creating a complete digital experience for the user and customer, bringing in bots, billing, AI & analytics as standard features.”

– Ketan Karkhanis

There was a blanket theme across Dreamforce 2022; bring in intelligence to glean more informed insights, use automation to improve the productivity of sales reps, and use Slack to create cohesive collaboration across teams and systems. Not just using the messaging tool for internal collaboration, but using it as a new alternative UI for Salesforce. 

Let’s take a look at some of the products and features that are enabling this new way of selling…

1. Sales Cloud Genie

Genie was Salesforce’s major announcement at Dreamforce, with the product focusing on ingesting huge amounts of data about your customers from a variety of sources, and presenting those insights back in real-time. 

Genie further enables existing Salesforce products such as Einstein, providing more data, in order to make better AI assisted predictions and insights. Two of the most impactful examples of Genie in action were announced at the Sales Cloud Keynote at Dreamforce 2022.

  • Conversation Insights: Sales reps can receive real-time guidance from Einstein during customer calls to adapt to the conversation, and receive real-time recommendations to offer customers.
  • Relationship Insights: Data ingested from sources such as business news, call notes, Slack, and email, can connect the dots when it comes to matching up relationships. If you’re looking for a warm introduction to a new prospect, there may be a user inside your organization that already has that relationship.

2. Sales Enablement

Sales Enablement was another major announcement for Sales Cloud, set to change the way that sales reps can upskill within their role.

It provides functionality to set up a structured learning/onboarding plan for your reps to follow within Salesforce. Sales Enablement focuses on three core elements:

  1. Focusing on Outcomes: Embed milestones in programs, tie enablement to revenue, and prove business impact.
  2. Coach for Impact: Help managers hone in on improving the skills reps need most with conversation intelligence.
  3. Personalize at Scale: Launch specialized programs quickly, with Salesforce templates that deliver predictable revenue results.

In summary, this allows you to build learning paths, tying outcomes back to emails sent, opportunities created, and total amount of deals won. This is all automatically updated based on actual activity within Salesforce.

3. Slack & Sales Cloud

Salesforce’s acquisition of Slack at the end of 2020 was the catalyst for the Digital HQ movement. Whilst remote-working has brought a lot of benefits to professionals’ work-life balance, there are a few key downsides that Salesforce are trying to plug with Slack. Namely, collaboration. 

Over the past year, Salesforce has been enabling a tighter integration between Sales Cloud and Slack through multiple avenues. This includes the Sales Cloud for Slack app, as well as the “Salesforce Platform for Slack”, which enables automation tools such as Flow and Apex to interact with Slack.

This opens up unlimited opportunities to build seamless processes, using Slack as the user interface and collaboration layer, and Salesforce as the CRM. We saw a few exciting examples of this in action at Dreamforce, including:

  • Using Salesforce to support Partner Relationship Management
  • Creating deal rooms and alerting you to important updates about Opportunities
  • Using Slack for approvals

4. Pipeline Inspection

Next up, we have Pipeline Inspection, a new tool from Salesforce that was announced in March 2021, and could be seen as a supercharged version of Collaboration Forecasting. 

Pipeline Inspection allows week-over-week comparison of forecasts, highlighting Opportunities that might need particular support or coaching, drill-down capabilities.

“Sales Managers need the ability to see their data from 30,000 feet, as well from a single Opportunity level.”

– Ketan Karkhanis

5. Einstein Sales Bots

When Salesforce released Einstein Bots back in 2018, they were on the cusp of a new movement of automated bots to assist customers with queries, without speaking to a customer service rep.

Back in 2018, this could have been seen as a ‘lazy’ way to deal with your customers, but in 2022, this is universally used by brands all over the world to help their customers faster. Einstein Bots were typically designed to be used with Service Cloud, but at Dreamforce 2022, Einstein Sales Bots were announced.

“Einstein Sales Bots aren’t about trying to create a rep free environment, but answering questions a prospect might have, before handing them off at the appropriate time.”

– Ketan Karkhanis

Final Thoughts

In just a few years, the world we live in has shifted dramatically. This is changing all kinds of buying behaviors across the board, in both B2C and B2B environments. And whenever change comes along, businesses have to adapt to ensure they are keeping up with the needs and demands of their customers. 

In 2022 and beyond, agility is still ‘king’ when it comes to responding to the changes of the world, and this is exactly how Salesforce are positioning themselves when it comes to supporting the needs of their customers.

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