When Salesforce unveiled its Lightning technology last August, it promised the changes it wrought would “completely reimagine CRM for the modern era.” The Lightning arrived yesterday at a Salesforce partner conference in San Francisco, ushered in with a fittingly electric version of The Star-Spangled Banner played by Metallica.
“Lightning is a game-changer for Salesforce and our customers,” said Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. COO Keith Block told partners at the launch event that the recent World Economic Forum made it clear that Salesforce had to help its customer “step up into the future.We’re looking at billions of connected things. It’s the perfect storm of cloud and mobile and social and Internet of Things.”
Lightning’s purpose is to streamline process across desktop, tablet, and mobile for users of Salescloud, and features cascading style sheets to help sales reps perform some of the creative tasks they always relied on marketing for. Observers of the CRM scene pretty much liked what they saw in the new offerings.
“Lightning is the foundation that will allow Salesforce customers to have a platform to quickly and continually roll out experiences that are more aligned with customer needs and expectations as they change over time,” observed analyst Brent Leary of CRM Essentials, who attended the launch. Added CRM consultant and author Paul Greenberg: “They continue to do the things that make them successful – one of the most successful companies in history really.”
Steelbrick CPQ, a system that takes users from lead to close with their accounts, comes to Sales Cloud Sales Platforms in these new editions. Lightning Voice, another new feature, gives salespeople click-to-call, call forwarding, and auto-logging capabilities. Salesforce 1 Mobile lets them update information anywhere at anytime and automatically synchs the data when they reconnect.
A Lightning–augmented service app aims to unite customer intelligence across all the many touch points they access these days: social, email, phone, and apps. An updated Salesforce Service App will also have an Omni-Channel Supervisor feature for call center managers, giving them visibility into agent’s workloads in order to help deploy them for optimum customer service.
Salesforce’s Lightning editions bring with them the thunder of higher prices, something Greenberg says the company should have explained. “The only question I think they need to answer more completely is what they are providing that justifies the price increase in the various editions of the various clouds,” he said. “One of the complaints I hear is that Salesforce can be expensive and they need to make sure they are crystal clear in the ‘why’ of the price increase.”
Lightning edition Sales and Service Cloud software will be offered in the same three packages and price points: Professional ($75), Enterprise ($150), and Unlimited ($300). They will become available sometime in the second quarter of 2017. SteelBrick CPQ is already available for Sales Cloud, starting at $40 a month per user.