Salesforce Makes Case for Expanding Reliance on Virtual Selling

    This week, during its Success Anywhere World Tour, Salesforce made a case for rethinking how sales teams are managed now that most salespeople will be shifting almost exclusively from working from home to working from anywhere.

    The latest version of Sales Cloud makes a Salesforce Meetings tool now generally available that provides a 360-degree view of all the participants on an online meeting, including account history, open service cases and biographies. After a call, automated action items prompt the salesperson to schedule a follow-up meeting or create a contact for a new decision maker they may have met.

    Salesforce president and COO Bret Taylor told attendees of the live online event that, even after COVID-19 vaccines are widely distributed, virtual selling will continue to be widely employed as salespeople continue to work both from home and the office. 

    “Virtual selling is here to stay,” says Taylor.

    Other capabilities added to Salesforce Cloud to facilitate those efforts include the ability to employ the Einstein Conversation Insights engine to analyze video call transcripts using machine learning algorithms. These algorithms identify trending keywords, such as product names, or types of interactions, such as competitor mentions. There’s also now a sales pipeline inspection tool that uses AI to narrow focus on the deals that matter most as pipeline changes are tracked week by week.

    Those capabilities are meant to extend existing capabilities such as Einstein Opportunity Scoring, which presents each salesperson with a score representing the likelihood that an opportunity will be won.

    Also read: MuleSoft Makes Accessing External Data from Salesforce Simpler

    Remote Sales Team Management

    As critical as it might be to arm sales teams with virtual selling tools, the biggest challenge organizations may face is providing sales managers with the tools they require to remotely manage a sales team. The AI tools embedded in Salesforce Cloud make it easier for those managers to identify what specific issues members of their sales team are struggling with as they engage potential customers.

    Rather than having to constantly switch between a customer relationship management (CRM) application and a video conferencing session, Salesforce is clearly making a case for a more integrated user experience. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly apparent video conferencing capabilities will soon be baked into most applications.   

    It’s not clear to what degree a shift to working from anywhere will drive organizations to rip and replace their CRM applications. There’s no doubt customers have become more comfortable engaging with sales people online. Some may prefer that to having a face-to-face meeting. Salespeople, of course, are generally going to prefer a face-to-face meeting whenever possible. The end customer, however, may not be as enthusiastic about going into an office just to meet with a salesperson.

    Also read: Salesforce Seeks to Advance Digital Business Transformation via Slack Acquisition

    Engaging Customers

    Regardless of how selling evolves, the more often a salesperson engages a customer the more likely it becomes some type of transaction will eventually occur. The challenge salespeople now face is finding the best way to engage customers on their own terms. The expectation is a sales team has the tools to adapt. 

    Customers may not be willing to sign on the bottom line until they meet someone in person, but everything up until that point might very well occur over a series of online meetings that may not even require them to turn on their camera. After all, one of the best things about working from home is no one has to always wear business attire.

    Read next: Open Source Platforms Vie with IT Vendors for Management of MLOps

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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