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Salesforce Sales Cloud Unlimited Edition adds AI, automation

Pricing stays the same for Salesforce Sales Cloud's highest-level subscription, but formerly a la carte tools are now included that span AI-powered analytics and automation.

Salesforce on Thursday folded eight formerly a la carte AI and automation tools for Sales Cloud into its top-tier Unlimited Edition subscription, streamlining its price list.

Those include Conversation Insights, which uses natural language processing to analyze audio and video recordings for insights into keywords such as competitor mentions and challenges; Salesforce Inbox, which pulls email and calendar information into Salesforce; and Sales Engagement (formerly High Velocity Sales), which includes reporting, manager-set workflows and other productivity tools.

Others include Automated Contacts, Lead Scoring, Forecasting, Opportunity Scoring and Pipeline Inspection. The Sales Cloud Unlimited subscription fees will not increase at this time, and remain $300 per user, per month, said Ketan Karkhanis, executive vice president and general manager of Salesforce Sales Cloud.

The moves come during what Salesforce terms a "relaunch" of Sales Cloud Unlimited Edition, its flagship CRM product. The tools reflect Salesforce's philosophy to look at the top 10 things sales reps spend their time doing manually, and automate as many as possible in order to give them more time for selling, Karkhanis said.

While Salesforce Sales Cloud Unlimited -- its priciest subscription -- can theoretically be used by businesses of any size, it appeals to companies of 1,000 employees or more, which typically have deep-pocketed sales organizations.

That said, Sales Cloud Unlimited's sales rep onboarding and workflow automation may also appeal to smaller companies that increasingly rely on fully remote or outside sales reps, said Rebecca Wettemann, CEO of research firm Valoir. One example is Unlimited's Sales Engagement customer communication cadences set by inside sales managers. Workflows such as those can quickly propagate a company's own proven practices across distributed sales teams.

The complexity of the product or service a Salesforce user provides also often dictates which Salesforce subscription is the best fit.

"I'm either going to a completely digital sales model -- where the salesperson may be an order taker or may be going away entirely," Wettemann said, "or I'm going upstream, where the complexity of services and support that I provide around that product means I need the coaching -- and day-to-day AI recommendation-driven capabilities -- that Sales Cloud Unlimited now is going to provide."

Salesforce Unlimited Edition
Salesforce Unlimited Edition now includes Pipeline Inspection, one of eight tools released that dashboard AI insights.

Troops acquisition to add Slackbots for Sales Cloud

This comes as Salesforce plans to add sales-oriented Slack features for Salesforce through the acquisition of Troops.ai, announced last month. Salesforce said the acquisition would close by the end of next month; financial terms were not disclosed.

Troops.ai makes bots for both Slack and Microsoft Teams that connect to Salesforce and automate sales-related tasks such as retrieving and updating Salesforce data within Slack. Troops bots can notify salespeople when changes in Salesforce records require action -- or when a lack of action means it's time to nudge a customer or coworker to keep sales moving. Troops' back-end data-processing and analytics capabilities had already attracted investment from Slack's own venture capital fund.

The Troops tools mirror what the initial Sales Cloud-Slack integrations Salesforce previewed last year were supposed to look like, Wetteman said. One of them, Deal Rooms, aggregates Salesforce data in a Slack channel to keep sales team members apprised of a potential sale's progress.

"Sales organizations worldwide are all having to move [away] from transaction-oriented relationships -- from selling to guiding, from pitching to deep listening -- and doing all this in digital channels," Karkhanis said. "At the same time, when I talk to customers everywhere, top of mind for everybody is productivity, and efficiency is about maximizing selling capacity."

Box integrates e-signatures, Flow

In related news, Box Inc. deepened its integration with Salesforce last week by adding Box Sign functionality for documents. It also added support for Salesforce Flow, a low-code automation platform that could, among other things, push contracts through approval processes as various parties sign off. Salesforce and Box have hundreds of joint customers, said Woodson Martin, Salesforce AppExchange general manager.

The Box integration also has a capability to autopopulate proposals and scope-of-work sales documents with standard, user-defined content. That, Wetteman said, has much potential to streamline deal approvals.

"Of all the pieces of the lead-to-cash cycle, proposal creation, delivery and tracking is the last mile that, in a lot of cases, hasn't been automated," Wetteman said. "[This makes] it slower, more error-prone and more open to -- shall we say -- 'interpretation' by sales reps trying to get deals closed. Having a secure content trail that tracks proposals through the process reduces the likelihood that non-standard proposals make it through. It also enables legal [staff] to manage by exception, instead of having to redline terms and conditions on a contract-by-contract basis."

Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service and enabling technologies for TechTarget.

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