Salesforce.com has several big improvements planned for its Sales Cloud CRM platform, driven by the company’s Einstein AI software.
The new features are designed to deliver a “next generation of Sales Cloud” that includes better sales forecasting and insights into individual and sales team’s performance, company executives told eWEEK.
Salesforce also announced a new $50 million Salesforce AI fund it hopes will accelerate development of “transformative AI solutions” for the Salesforce platform.
As for Sales Cloud, the most significant new feature is Einstein Forecasting, an automated forecasting tool Salesforce said can be used by sales managers, the CFO or anyone who needs to predict what sales results will be, to make forecasting more accessible and accurate. A particular pain point the software is designed to address are inaccurate sales projections by companies using spreadsheets and older forecasting systems.
“We’ve brought AI to forecasting. It’s like a crystal ball for sales managers,” Will Moxley, senior vice president of product marketing at Salesforce, told eWEEK.
The Salesforce CRM platform already collects all sorts of data on salespeople’s interactions with customers, their buying history and budgets. Einstein Forecasting crunches all that data to forecast how well salespeople will perform as well as opportunities to bring in more sales.
Moxley said the system is smart enough to recognize patterns, such as in situations where a particular salesperson tends to “sand bang” or limit sales in a given quarter to boost sales figures in the next quarter or if others tend to over-estimate how much they will bring in the next quarter. It also looks at other factors that could affect sales such as seasonality and historical performance.
“It gives the sales manager more information to counter the sales person’s gut feeling of how they will perform and could be a motivational tool,” said Moxley.
“By combining intelligence, pipeline transparency and key sales data, Einstein Forecasting provides a crucial view of sales revenue indicators that helps business leaders correctly predict business growth,” said Sheryl Kingstone, Research Director, 451 Research Customer Experience and Commerce, in a statement.
During a demonstration, the company showed the mobile version of Einstein Forecasting that is tailored for use on smartphones.
The news comes on the one year anniversary of Salesforce’s announcement of Einstein which offers features like Activity Capture for greatly reducing the amount of information sales people have to manually enter. Another feature, Einstein Opportunity Insights, processes the complete history of customer interaction and then suggests next steps a salesperson should take to close a deal and the best leads to pursue.
The new release of Sales Cloud is now available in a pilot version to select customers. Salesforce said the full version will be available in the first half of 2018.
In addition to Forecasting, Salesforce is adding two other new features to Sales Cloud.
Einstein Opportunity Scoring identifies, displays and prioritizes the most valuable deals, including those with the largest deal size or most executive engagement. This works in conjunction with Einstein’s ability to monitor deals in progress and identify any high-value deals that may be in jeopardy.
Salesforce will also enhance Sales Cloud with Einstein Email Insights. Insights helps sales reps prioritize their inbox using natural language processing to identify the most important emails and also highlight the most important information within those emails as well as suggesting the best response or next course of action. Insights works with both Microsoft Outlook and Google’s Gmail programs.
“You tap the priority inbox and see just the emails that are deal changers that you want to focus on first,” said Kamilla Khaydarov, senior product marketing manager at Salesforce, who demoed the service.
Moxley said the new Sales Cloud helps Salesforce achieve its goal of bringing AI to every step of the sales process, from finding leads, to making the sale, to growing the business further by identifying up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.