As I looked back on the religious experience that was Dreamforce last year, it occurred to me that the most devout Salesforce technologies and services have fared pretty well. It then begs the question of which are this year’s hottest companies in the Salesforce cathedral and which should the 100,000+ people attending this year’s Dreamforce devote their time?
We can only properly answer that question by examining this year's most promising new companies. These are companies that are either extending the power of Salesforce or are providing 10X more value to Salesforce customers (preferably both). We asked ourselves not just which technologies are changing the game, but how they are changing it.
I’ve been putting together my own list of what I’d call the “game-changing companies” that are helping to build the house of Salesforce. Here they are:
KITEDESK Salesforce users have never fully appreciated the power the platform can supply an organization – it can positively change the revenue dynamic for nearly any company. But I am convinced that it hasn’t worked for all companies because it doesn’t extend to where marketers and salespeople are spending most of their time.
A new company called KiteDesk will be flying high above Dreamforce because it’s one the best new social selling solutions I’ve seen in a long time. KiteDesk works in the browser and lets you instantly access, create, and update information in Salesforce from any web page. Even better, KiteDesk integrates information from contacts, social profiles, CRM records, and public and private data providers to supply complete and accurate intelligence on both companies and individuals.
In addition, sales triggers automate key sales opportunity alerts so that sales representatives know immediately when sales openings occur. KiteDesk’s Strength of Relationship Algorithm will help determine which prospects are most likely to take a sales call. That’s a huge time saver for sales and marketing professionals.
LEVELELEVEN Professional athletes and salespeople have at least one thing in common – they hate to lose. Yet the former always understands where they rank relative to their competitors and the former doesn’t. What if salespeople were given the opportunity to compete and see how they rank versus their peers? That’s a win-win for everyone.
That’s the big challenge leveleleven, a Detroit based company took on and have collected a few marquee customers like Comcast , Delta Airlines, The Detroit Pistons and OpenTable to prove that it can work. In fact, its Compete product is the #1 most popular gamification app in the Salesforce AppExchange.
BTW: They are also hinting at a new partnership that brings gamification right to the user’s actual Gmail inbox
TOUTAPP Ever wonder if a sales prospect has opened an email? Did they open it and click on the link you sent? Did they make a purchase?
ToutApp works with Gmail, Outlook, and Salesforce and it allows you to track whether someone has opened your email, clicked on a link or visited a landing page. The ability to create email templates that can be shared across the sales team is great, but the ability to dynamically insert custom information from Salesforce is even better. Imagine sending a prospect an email with details of the last interaction you had with her – all dynamically served from Salesforce.
ToutApp’s analytics, email tracking and engagement tools allow the sales team to better understand the best performing content. And their sales level analytics supply salespeople clues as to whether they are dealing with an engaged prospect or someone just kicking the tires. This type of information was only available in expensive marketing automations solutions – now it’s available to salespeople for a lot less.
STORY SEEKERS™ It turns out that people use emotion to make decisions than they rationalize it with their pre-frontal cortex to come up with the logic to support their emotional want. Based on the latest research on decision making and his own experience, world renowned sales author Michael Bosworth (Solution Selling) has created a sales training course called Story Seekers that seeks help salespeople influence emotional decisions.
Bosworth has studied the top 13% of influencers that are able to help people make emotional ‘like” and “want to” decisions because they intuitively connect emotionally. For the rest of us, Bosworth outlines a ‘human connection’ framework to so that we can emulate the top 13% and learn how they influence emotional buying decisions.
Vala Afshar, the CMO of Enterasys and Huffington Post columnist, wrote a compelling article earlier this year about becoming a customer centric company. Afshar noted that Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff’s vision and guiding principles of a company that cares is spot on and follows it up with 14 questions to determine if your company qualifies.
From my point of view, each of the companies above can help sales and marketing professionals become more customer centric. Each in their own way motivates salespeople to be better, to understand customer motives, and to be motivational.
Expect that to be one of the primary themes this year.
Disagree with my assessment? Here are five other people whose opinions I trust that will be covering Dreamforce:
Mitch Lieberman, Jim Keenan, John Taschek, Michael Krigsman, Ray Wang