From road warrior to video warrior - Salesforce Meetings aids virtual selling

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright September 22, 2020
As former road warriors switch to video meetings for sales calls due to COVID-19 lockdown, the new Salesforce Meetings fronts a set of tools to enhance virtual selling

Salesforce Meetings screenshot of composite video image plus pop-out meeting notes
(Screenshot via Salesforce)

Over the past six months, B2B sales teams have had to adapt rapidly to a lockdown regime in which face-to-face meetings are nigh on impossible, unless over a video link. But many have discovered a surprising upside — it's possible to fit many more meetings into the day without having to travel from one to another, while previously hard-to-meet prospects have become more accessible. Today cloud CRM leader Salesforce is giving virtual selling another boost with the launch of enhanced tools including Salesforce Meetings, a wraparound for video sales calls that lifts them to a new level.

Designed to work with all the leading video conferencing tools, one of the most compelling features of Salesforce Meetings is that it creates a single video stream that combines screen sharing of a presentation or product demo alongside live video of the participants. As Doug Camplejohn, the new GM and EVP of Sales Cloud, explains:

Salesforce Meetings works with all video conferencing providers. It doesn't require you to download anything, it works in a browser. What we're doing is, we're compositing this experience in a browser tab, and then you just share that browser tab when you're presenting.

This provides a more human connection than traditional screen sharing, when participant video is either sidelined or absent. It means a sales person making a pitch can easily gauge their prospect's reactions as they speak. Camplejohn says the product's designers have been taking lessons from the history of television to improve the video meeting experience: "There are better ways to present information." From this comes the notion of presenting participants side-by-side with presentation slides, or of providing notes on-screen that sales reps can consult while engaging with their prospect.

Pop-up help during calls

Prior to a call, Meetings brings together information about attendees, customer history and other useful data for sales reps to view. At any time during the call, they can pop out this information panel to look up answers. With video calls making it possible to cram many more sales meetings into the day, this is essential to help reps keep up, says Camplejohn.

Especially with reps, now, you've got a lot of these back-to-back, 30-minute, Zoom-style meetings. How do you still make sure that you're going into that, when the pace has picked up so much, armed with the right knowledge for that call — coming ready to be a trusted advisor and showing up properly? So before the call, we've added this notion of a briefing prep doc.

With some video tools, meetings can also make a live transcript of the call, which can be monitored by AI to track keywords and suggest helpful tips during the conversation — Salesforce has upgraded its Einstein Call Coaching feature to now work with video as well as audio calls, partnering initially with Zoom. Sales reps can also use the recently introduced Salesforce Anywhere chat tool to follow up questions with colleagues, either during or after the call.

We are automatically going to be able to capture and transcribe the entire meeting, separate out speakers to show who's saying what, automatically look for certain keywords like a competitor mention or a pricing discussion, or objections that were brought up — even mentions of next steps or action items, as well as anything you want to customize to listen for as well. Then that ultimately becomes a repository of all of these conversations that are going on.

Meetings also surfaces automated action items from an updated version of Salesforce's High Velocity Sales aid to help reps quickly follow up after completing the call. The update has expanded beyond prospecting to include actions for customer success agents and others who deal with customers, says Camplejohn.

Now that everyone is a virtual seller working from home, everyone has a set of activities that they want to make sure are not falling through the cracks, from prospecting all the way through renewal.

Getting back on the road - or not

To help reps get back on the road and make in-person calls, Salesforce Maps — which is based on last year's acquisition of MapAnything — now has a new capability called Field Safety Kit. This adds COVID-19 trend data to the map view within Salesforce, to help determine which locales are safest for travel, as well as new travel approval workflows and customizable health checklists for reps to follow before and after an in-person sales visit.

But not everyone is going to go back on the road, believes Camplejohn, who says COVID-19 has accelerated changes that were already trending in B2B selling:

The world of selling and buying in the B2B world has really changed. The B2B buyers are in charge, and they're bringing their B2C expectations to the table. And then, of course, COVID flipped everything on its head, and everyone became a virtual seller practically overnight. And that's not going away ...

I do think that even when we're 'on the other side of this', there's a lot of folks who will never go back to the way it was, or [will] have some kind of hybrid approach.

He believes the need to adapt to this new regime will mean drawing on the full range of Salesforce tools, from call and video coaching, through its MyTrailhead learning platform, to Tableau data analysis.

I think the whole idea of enablement and reskilling is going to become increasingly important, especially because you can't walk the halls and listen to how your reps are doing anymore — they're all doing it separately ...

Ultimately, how do you guide those reps towards new behaviours, whether it's in the manager one-on-one that you're having, or through [on-demand learning] trails that you guide them down?

Salesforce Meetings will be available in pilot next month and general availability for all the new features announced today is planned for February next year.

My take

Camplejohn joined Salesforce earlier this year from Microsoft subsidiary LinkedIn, where he ran the Sales Navigator tool after the acquisition of predictive sales and marketing startup Fliptop, where he was co-founder and CEO. He's come on board "to kind of reboot Sales Cloud" he told me and promises much more to follow on from today's announcements.

Salesforce Meetings is certainly a creative response to the gaps in video meetings that have been exposed during the COVID-19 lockdown and is a good start to the "fresh perspective" he promises to bring to Sales Cloud.

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