For many sales professionals, Salesforce.com is the benchmark tool for getting work done. For some, it's the platform that defines their profession.
So, what happens when you take, arguably, the most widely-used sales CRM and turn its UX on its head? Well, that's what just happened.
On Tuesday, August 25, 2015 Salesforce announced its Lightning Experience, a complete design and experience overhaul for Salesforce.com, as well as the Lightning Design System. This follows the news Salesforce had last year, at Dreamforce 2014, when it announced the Lightning App Builder and Lightning Components, which were made available last month.
The new Lightning Experience is built on the Salesforce1 platform and was created with feedback and input from more than 150,000 customers. A redesign was a long time coming, but it became absolutely critical as Salesforce began moving more towards mobile, IDC associate vice president Bo Lykkegaard said.
"Lightning provides a UI framework, which is better suited for mobile applications and responsive design (which means [an] application that automatically adapts their look and feel depending on what device you are using)," Lykkegaard said. "Lightning applications have richer components for [the] client side and can embed newer and more varied types of visualization."
This update brings with it 25 new innovations and changes. Here are the top four updates that will have a real impact on your business.
New Home Screen
The first change users will notice is the updated home screen. At the top of the screen, users will notice a new goal chart where they can view closed deals, open deals, and their overall goal. A couple quick clicks can change the goal and users will immediately see their progress reflected in the chart.
Under the goals are account insights, which provides news about companies you're working with, and general news about the industry overall. This helps sales representatives have better conversations with customers.
On the right hand side of the home screen is the "Assistant," which Sales Cloud director of product marketing Greg Gsell said is "bringing intelligence into the Sales Cloud."
"Now I can see overdue tasks, I can see leads that have been assigned to me, plus I can see opportunities in sales fields that potentially have a problem," Gsell said.
The Assistant will alert users of a lapse in account activity or notify them if a task is due. Examples could be notifications that a user needs to call a company contact or schedule a meeting.
Customizable Sales Dashboard
Of the 150,000+ customers who weighed in on the new features, the no. 1 requested feature was a four-column dashboard, Gsell said, garnering nearly 80,000 votes to have the feature implemented.
Users can view open and closed sales amounts, as well as see their deals closed by date. The big thing here, though, is the flexibility available. Upon clicking "Edit," a users can resize or move the components in the dashboard, making it easier to customize the experience for each user.
Sales is all about staying on top of the available opportunities. Users can view individual potential clients in the opportunity workspace and get a detailed look at their work with each individual client.
Under the "Tasks" tab, users can view what needs to be done next in the lifecycle of the deal. Past activity can also be viewed in a timeline to see what else has been done. For example, a next step may be a call about pricing, and you can see that you already completed email contact. Additionally, all emails are logged so you can revisit them.
For a specific opportunity, the relevant contacts are accessible on the right side of the screen, including their role and title. Other small changes were made, such as a single click to close a task.
In order to view all of the relevant opportunities together, users can click the "My Opportunities" tab under the Opportunities section. All of the opportunities will then be listed in a grid format where they are displayed under their relevant stage in the deal lifecycle and listed along with their relevant tasks.
Alerts for new tasks for each opportunity are listed as yellow triangles with exclamation points within them. Each opportunity can be manually moved between stages by dragging and dropping, and the sales forecast will be automatically updated.
The Salesforce Lightning experience will go live in October, and existing customers will be driven towards that experience. However, the change averse should have no fear as Sara Varni, senior vice president of marketing for the Sales Cloud, said Salesforce will support the classic experience "indefinitely."
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is News Editor for TechRepublic. He covers startups and enterprise technology and is passionate about the convergence of tech and culture.