Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Salesforce rolls out video tools, other products for sales reps in the COVID era

Salesforce Meetings is a video meeting management system that works with a sales rep's preferred video conferencing provider, like Zoom or Google Hangouts.

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With COVID-19 seemingly here to stay for a while, the changes many organizations made at the beginning of the year -- shifting to remote work, for instance -- may be more permanent than initially expected. In response to this new reality, Salesforce is effectively rebooting the Sales Cloud, introducing a series of new tools for sales reps who can't make their typical in-person customer visits. 

"Virtual selling is the new normal," Doug Camplejohn, GM of Sales Cloud, said to ZDNet. 

First, Salesforce Meetings is a new video management system that works with a sales rep's video conferencing tool of choice -- whether it's Zoom, Google Hangouts, or any other platform -- to create a more sales-focused video call experience. It's designed to help sales reps prepare before a call, engage more effectively during the call, and close the loop after the call. 

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There's no software to download to use Salesforce Meetings, and it doesn't replace any video conferencing tools -- it effectively brings what you see from your video meeting to your CRM. Sales reps just need to share a link with customers to launch the meeting from within Salesforce Meetings. 

Before hosting a meeting with customers, the new system compiles relevant information for sales reps to help them prepare. Pulled from the Salesforce CRM and Einstein Insights, that information can include customer history, open service cases, or whether a key decision-maker has changed roles recently.

During the meeting, sales reps can use the program to take notes, queue up presentations, and view talking points during the meeting. They can also use it to show customers a branded video overlay. Also, Salesforce Meetings can show the speaker at the same time as their slides, rather than one or the other, so they can give their presentation with more a human connection. 

After the call, Salesforce Meetings taps Einstein to analyze the content of the call and offer automated next steps, such as adding people to an Opportunity Record. 

In addition to Salesforce Meetings, Salesforce is introducing an expanded version of  Einstein Call Coaching with features aimed at video call coaching. Einstein Call Coaching uses speech recognition and natural language processing to analyze call recordings, helping sales teams and managers spot trends in calls -- such as whether competitors are getting mentioned more often. Now, sales teams can use the product to analyze video calls as well. 

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Salesforce also has a new product for sales reps that want to assess whether it's safe and appropriate to make an in-person visit to a customer. The Salesforce Maps Field Safety Kit combines territory data from Salesforce Maps, CRM data from Sales Cloud, and COVID-19 data from Tableau to provide a better picture of the situation on the ground at a customer's location. 

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Lastly, Salesforce is expanding its inside sales tools to help field sales reps that are being forced to adopt insides sales strategies. The High-Velocity Sales product, designed to automate steps for prospecting, now supports all kinds of sellers. Now, sales reps can use it not just to automate email and call tasks but tasks like quarterly check-ins with customers. 

The new tools illustrate how Salesforce is benefitting from the business trends brought on by the pandemic. Many companies and industries have been forced to do more business digitally, including sales. In fact, Salesforce said last month in its most recent financial report that the prior quarter was one of its best. Revenue was up 29 percent from a year ago, while Sales Cloud revenue grew 13 percent.

COVID-19 "forced this triage on companies," Camplejohn said. Initially, organizations focused on "'How do I make sure my employees are safe?'" he said. "Then it was, 'How do we check in on our customers?' Now it's, 'How do I return to growth and make sure my team can be effective and make sure I have a handle on my revenue operations?'"