An illustration depicting how automations simplify complicated workflows.
Productivity

Capture competitive intelligence in a flash with automations

How Salesforce harnesses the power of Slack and MuleSoft Composer to uncover deal details, recoup productive time and boost win rates

Author: Lauren JohnsonNovember 22nd, 2021Illustration by Abbey Lossing

The present-day shift to a work-from-anywhere world has put intense demands on sales organizations. Now that many workplaces are not just digital or physical but a hybrid of both, sales teams, and the teams that support them, have to connect in new ways. 

At Salesforce, that means finding creative solutions to bring its sales and competitive intelligence (CI) teams even closer with Slack. In today’s market, this airtight communication is crucial to winning deals, driving revenue, and building lasting relationships with customers and partners.

Christine Pouliot, the director of market strategy at Salesforce, understands the value of swift feedback cycles firsthand. To build a strategy around a specific competitor, Pouliot selects and analyzes several dozen deals from a pool of thousands closed per quarter. During these reviews, Pouliot has three key objectives:

  • Discover insights from sales calls while they are fresh in the account executive’s mind 
  • Investigate the deals that were closely won or lost 
  • Find qualitative and quantitative feedback to confirm competitive trends

Before Salesforce adopted Slack as its digital HQ, Pouliot coordinated and conducted most of her reviews via email, Chatter and phone calls. This process created long response times and bottlenecks, and sometimes information and details were lost because they were no longer top of mind for the AE. The back-and-forth was time-consuming and disruptive for both AEs and members of the CI team alike. 

Since taking a Slack-first approach to collaboration, Pouliot says it’s become faster and easier to collaborate with her colleagues on the sales team. In addition to keeping messages organized in searchable Slack channels and threads, Slack makes it easy to share Salesforce information with cross-functional teammates

Team members can send their records from Salesforce directly to Slack, choosing where and with whom they want to share information. Slack conversations can also be added to Salesforce records, so important messages regarding an account or a case can be viewed in Salesforce.

“We used to have to run competitive reports in Salesforce or Tableau CRM and then email the right AE to set up a review call. Now all of this is done in Slack,” Pouliot says. By meeting sales reps where they are already working, Pouliot and her team are able to collect more responses faster and save time in the process—a win-win for everyone.

A graphic illustrating the previous competitive intelligence-gathering process at Salesforce.

Gathering intelligence fast with custom apps and workflows

While Slack strengthened communication between the sales and CI teams, Pouliot says her process was still quite manual and didn’t scale to Salesforce’s fleet of over 8,000 AEs. Outreach to 10 AEs could easily eat up more than an hour of her day. 

Pouliot knew she could take back her time by automating the process end to end. Ideally this series of automations would search each deal for a specific competitor and ask the right point of contact for relevant insights on her behalf. What would be the icing on the cake? If the automated workflows could capture and deliver these insights to Pouliot and her team. 

The Salesforce operations teams turned Pouliot’s wish into reality with MuleSoft Composer for Salesforce. This tool provides Salesforce admins and business users with a no-code solution for quickly unlocking data, integrating apps and automating business processes within the Salesforce UI. Together, MuleSoft, Slack and Salesforce connect apps, people and customers for powerful engagement across multiple platforms.

This new CI automation has shortened Pouliot’s entire process by:

  1. Finding data about deal wins or losses in Salesforce
  2. Sending the appropriate AE a survey in Slack to capture insights and data right after the deal or opportunity closes
  3. Capturing and informing the CI team in Slack when the AE completes their survey responses

Now Salesforce’s small-but-mighty CI team of 12 can gather intel against a specific competitor from 3,000 CRM opportunities and over 500 sales reps, instantly. The CI team estimates the automation has resulted in a seven-fold boost in productivity. 

A graphic illustrating the automated competitive intelligence-gathering process at Salesforce.

“Starting out, we didn’t have exact criteria for the automation or how the data would flow across so many applications. But with MuleSoft Composer, we could test and iterate fast, in a safe space, with just clicks. The automation just works.”

Lissa SmithSenior Manager of Salesforce Business Teams, Salesforce

Saving teammates time generates significant business impacts

The MuleSoft Composer automation has been a game changer for Salesforce’s CI team. When it comes to gathering intelligence, speed matters, and the automation gathers critical deal information while the details are still top-of-mind for AEs.

Pouliot says the automation helped her team quickly uncover business trends that would have otherwise taken months to observe. In one instance, she was able to survey more than 50 AEs almost instantaneously. When more than 25% of them flagged the same issue, she sprang into action to alert the right teams. 

“Before, it would have taken me six months to uncover that issue because I wouldn’t have been able to talk to enough people to figure out there was a problem,” she says. “Because the automation allows us to gather data from so many deals so quickly, we can identify trends and build credibility around our insights.” 

Pouliot adds that the automation helps her identify more global trends. “I don’t talk to as many AEs in Asia-Pacific or Europe because of time zone differences, but because these deals are part of this integration, I’m still able to get that data.”

“We’re getting a more honest picture of what’s going on with the competition than we would if I were handpicking the surveyed deals.”

Christine PouliotDirector of Market Strategy, Salesforce

Not only does this speedy intelligence gathering give the sales team the insights it needs to successfully close more deals, it also captures valuable feedback for teams across the company. The CI team shares data with the product, pricing and packaging teams, leading to all-around better solutions for everyone. 

 

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