Escaping your email inbox is a recurring theme in business news and conversations, so it was great to hear a new perspective in San Francisco, at the Dreamforce global conference this year. There, the key theme instead was optimising your email inbox. Given that the average employee spends 28 hours per week reading and sending email, it makes sense.

This theme was driven by Salesforce’s recent acquisition of Relate IQ and the subsequent launch of SalesforceIQ, which is designed with the primary objective of turning emails into relationships. As Spandas Lui of Lifehacker writes, “Now Salesforce has integrated RelateIQ’s technology into its Sales Cloud offering. Not only is SalesforceIQ capable of working through emails, it also links with a users’ Sales Cloud account which can pull more information to assist sales representatives. The tool can then make contextual recommendations that sales people can action directly from their emails.”

I think you’d be challenged to find a businessperson who doesn’t feel the pressure of out-of-control email at points in their career, and knowing that, the notion of being completely in command is enormously appealing.

Emails are customer stories

OK, stay with me on this one. The cornerstone of forming customer relationships from email is pulling together the pieces of a customer story. The fact is, every time you email a customer, answer a customer case, or connect with them in any way electronically, there’s a digital signature that goes toward telling the story of your relationship together.

When you assemble those pieces into chapters, which you can index, continuously add to, and refer back to whenever you like, all of a sudden you have a playbook for growing a deep personal relationship with each and every customer.

The future of CRM is intelligent

The fact is, this is exactly the direction we’re headed, and it’s exciting! Today we have APIs available to access every piece of data we’re generating through every contact with our customers. We have analytics to drive valuable insights from that data, and deliver it back to us in meaningful and convenient ways (like our email inbox!)

This capability is all part of a technology movement that’s taking us from a world of logging data to automation of our business actions. We no longer have to tell our systems what to do! They are smart enough to tell us what to do, because they have more data at their disposal for decision-making than we have facts in our heads.

Maybe you, like many others, have only just wrapped your head around the value of cloud CRM. But, the reality is, this level of intelligent CRM is already here and it’s poised to take customer relationship to a whole new level.

If your inbox could speak, what would it say?

Sales reps from all industries and different walks of life all have common questions that they ask themselves during the course of every working day. “How many days since I last called this customer?”, “Who did I spend most time with last month?”, “Who do I most need to follow up with today?”, “How many customer conversations do I have in the closing stages this month?”—when we add relationship management technology to email, where these conversations typically take place, we drive the right outcomes… every time.

Dance school ‘tools up’ to grow its memberships into the 1000s

A great example of out-of-the-box intelligent CRM at work is with dance school Class Pass. CEO and Founder Payal Kadakia had a dream to build a network of studios delivering a whole range of classes that people could take, not just for fitness but to fuel their passion for exercise – to feel good! She wanted to change the way people viewed exercise, and to do that she needed to change the way typical fitness companies interact with their members.

Writing for CMO, Azadeh Williams says, “With SalesforceIQ, companies can leverage data-driven insights to deepen customer relationships and accelerate deals through the pipeline.” With this in mind, Salesforce IQ was Kadakia’s way to relate to every potential member on an individual basis, understanding their needs and preferences, and identifying which touch points would resonate best with them – all based on the nature of their interactions. In doing so, she could deliver the right class options to the right individuals— it’s a powerful proposition.

Taking this approach, Class Pass launched in 20 cities in just eight weeks, growing from 35 to thousands of members in almost no time at all. SalesforceIQ scaled as they scaled, and their communications with studio partners remain personal to this day.

Intelligence fields in her email inbox give her critical information like number of inactive days—how long it has been since the last interaction with a premium studio partner. During negotiations with studio partners, something like a delayed response to a proposal triggers a ‘closest connections’ response, where the system actively suggests people that are closely connected with your primary contact (based on real data, not binary social media data) whom might be able to step in and help close the deal.

Kadakia is able to say with confidence that her business had “treated the first and 7000th partner in exactly the same way”. How many growing startups can stake that claim?

If you’d like to know more about optimising your email inbox, click here to find out about Salesforce IQ.

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