News Analysis: Salesforce Inbox Calendar — Sales “Sidekick” Up-levels Productivity

CRM usage and adoption by the broader field sales reps has been one of the top challenges for companies. With sellers tasked with higher quotas, large swaths of territory to cover, and taking on more when it comes to customer satisfaction and overall account management, updating CRM falls to the bottom of the to-dos. Leadership requires accurate forecasts and depend on the deal insight, but sellers have struggled with the tedious, manual nature of data entry. This issue has been a constant topic of frustration and I’m encouraged by the recent wave of productivity tools announced by various vendors aimed at benefiting individual sellers. You can talk all day about data analytics on deals, but you have to get the data into the system first.

Salesforce announced today the upcoming October availability of Salesforce Inbox Calendar, an intelligent calendaring add-on to Salesforce Inbox. Leveraging functionality from both the RelateIQ and Tempo A.I. acquisitions and previously branded as SalesforceIQ Inbox, the updated product contains new features that can power seller productivity for existing customers of Sales Cloud. From recent briefings I had with the SalesforceIQ and Sales Cloud teams, their vision is an intelligent sales companion that can help automate manual tasks such as calendar appointment setting, logging of activities into Salesforce Sales Cloud and provide news feeds on accounts and contacts.

The primary features of Salesforce Inbox and Inbox Calendar that stood out to me included:

  • Calendar scheduling — Send calendar availability with one click scheduling. Integrated views across Outlook, Gmail, Mobile Calendar and Salesforce reduces the need of toggling to/from multiple calendars.
  • Email response templates — Configure sales email templates for quick mobile replies and enable notification of messages read.
  • Customer news / data aggregation — View aggregated news feeds with relevant Salesforce data on meeting attendees for more insight to tailor discussions.
  • Lightning Sync and integrated workflows for logging of meetings — Sync calendar entries with Salesforce Leads and contacts. Attach notes and log meetings to Accounts, eliminating duplicate manual data entry.
  • Single-click launch of web conference meetings — Web conference links embedded in the calendar invite reduces the need to launch calls from separate apps or manual dial-ins.
Salesforce Inbox Calendar Screenshots

These features provide what I’ll call a “sidekick” to sellers, keeping them engaged and working within the Salesforce apps. Sellers can benefit from the productivity enhancements and spend more time working in the app eventually leading to improved opportunity data analytics for leadership.

One caveat, for organizations on Outlook, Salesforce Inbox, and Inbox Calendar is only available on web-based Outlook 365 for now. According to Salesforce, the desktop version is on the roadmap for early 2017. Sellers can still utilize the features, but it will require logging in and using the web client (this is apart from the mobile app). The service is also available for Gmail.

The Bottom Line: For current Salesforce Sales Cloud/IQ customers, Salesforce Inbox combined with intelligent calendaring is a premium add-on worth exploring to increase seller productivity and reduce the manual data entry effort for both field and inside sales teams. Depending on your organization size, suggest involving test group of sellers before broad rollouts. Salesforce Inbox’s announced pricing of $25 per user could be well worth the reduction of seller manual data entry complaints and improve deal insights.

Cindy Zhou covers digital marketing and sales effectiveness at Constellation Research. Follow Cindy on LinkedIN and Twitter.

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