Salesforce adds a second Essentials cloud, and improves the original introduced last fall, although at this point in time, Essentials is still a marginal channel play, since the focus has been on improving the offering rather than broadening the go-to-market.
At last fall’s Dreamforce event, CRM powerhouse Salesforce made a move into a market where it had hitherto had no presence – very small businesses – with the Salesforce Essentials platform and the Sales Cloud Essentials app. On Tuesday, they followed that up with the announcement of a second app, Service Cloud Essentials, as well as an enhanced version of Sales Cloud Essentials.
“Salesforce Essentials is our commitment to small business,” said Marie Rosecrans, SVP of small business marketing at Salesforce. “After we launched Sales Cloud Essentials at Dreamforce, the momentum after the event was incredible. We have had very positive customer feedback, and acquired more than 2000 customers.”
Rosecrans said that in addition to adding more functionality to the existing Essentials Clouds, it is very likely that more Essentials clouds customized for small businesses will be established.
“With Essentials, we now have four editions of Salesforce – Essentials, PE [Professional Edition], EE [Enterprise Edition] and Unlimited,” she indicated. “We started with the Sales and Service Clouds for Essentials because these two clouds have the most traffic and the most adoption. Over time we will build this out further. Over time, we will also continue to invest to make Essentials better. Because Essentials is built on the Salesforce platform, customers can access the App Exchange. We are already working with App Exchange partners to create a small business hub with applications, and you will see us continuing to invest in this kind of capability.”
The customization of Essentials for the small business market begins with the baking in of Salesforce’s Trailhead online learning environment.
“The way small business buys is different,” Rosecrans said. “We are committed to bringing the small business message directly to them. Trailhead matches our content strategy in this way. We give them not just information about SalesForce, but information about business topics that matter to them – like how do I generate more leads, how do I set up my first sales team, or how do I set up a support team.
“We are also learning a lot from the small business user,” Rosecrans added. “The onboarding and setup experience will continually be improved. A lot of enhancements we are making to the guided onboarding with Trailhead will benefit not only Essentials users, but also ones in the midmarket and enterprise segments.”
Essentials also includes a key app from Einstein, Salesforce’s AI software. Einstein Activity Capture, automates manual data entry to make sales and service reps more productive, adding email and calendar events automatically to the appropriate record, saving the salesperson’s time.
“Activity Capture connects to the Inbox, investigates relevant information, and after a time of learning, will also make recommendations about activity to the salesperson,” Rosecrans said.
“The Salesforce Lightning Interface is now standard across all our products, including Essentials,” Rosecrans added. “In Sales Cloud Essentials, we have simplified it from the original release.” It provides a consumer-like experience, that is optimized for any device.”
Rosecrans stated that other enhancements to Sales Cloud Essentials since last fall reflect continued investments in guided onboarding and the setup experience, refining capabilities around Einstein Activity Capture and adding new productivity tools like macros.”
While Sales Cloud Essentials is enhanced, Service Cloud Essentials is brand new, and is available now. It enables small service teams to set up help desks instantly, and lets them provide customers with faster, more personalized customer service. The Service Cloud Mobile app also allows agents to provide personalized customer service from anywhere.
Salesforce is emphasizing the value that these two Essentials Clouds bring small business, and at a small business price of $25 per user per month. At this point in time, however, these clouds really can’t be characterized as a strong channel play. Salesforce partners who have SMB practices can certainly offer Essentials to their smaller customers, but that hasn’t been a huge focus of the Salesforce channel to date, and while the pricing of Essentials is great for customers, its opportunities for partners to add more value while keeping faith with that small business price point seem limited.
“Our focus until now has been on improving the customer experience with Essentials,” Rosecrans said. “The emphasis has been optimizing the solutions for small business, making sure that we create a solution that is very simple, first from a ‘try and buy’ perspective, then making it easy to set up, and then making it easy to use. We certainly have implementation partners and ISV partners who serve this market, and we have worked with the App Exchange to make sure we can complement Essentials with with products that augment it. A long-term channel strategy is something that we are exploring, and customizing this for MSPs is something that we might look at over time. But until now, we have been focusing on improving the service.”