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How COVID Is Driving a New Revolution for Sales: 1-1 With Doug Camplejohn, GM of Sales Cloud

Doug Camplejohn

Doug Camplejohn, GM of Sales Cloud, arrived for his first day at Salesforce Tower last February, ready to bring over 20 years of his own experience creating and leading companies to Sales Cloud. But nothing could have prepared him for the massive shift when COVID hit. He soon found himself in the new role as GM, indefinitely working from home, with a team he, for the most part, had yet to meet in person. 

We sat down (virtually) with Doug to learn how he has adapted as a leader throughout the last year, and why he believes that the world of selling will forever be changed (for the better). We talked about what’s next for Sales Cloud as he steers the ship of the most trusted and #1 CRM platform for more than 150,000 organizations worldwide.

Q. You’ve been in the role for about a year now, and 2020 was nothing like how you probably imagined it. What were some of the big surprises? 

I’ve been a huge fan of Salesforce for years. The thing that has surprised me — even more than I expected — is the passion of our customer community. Sales Cloud has driven Salesforce to be the #1 CRM for seven years. It’s not uncommon in business for market leadership to lead to apathy, both from vendors and customers. However, Salesforce continues to innovate and there is a lot of love and energy for Sales Cloud from our customers. And that love is reciprocated – I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the extent to which we truly prioritize customers and builds products based on their needs, insights and feedback

I love engaging with customers for that reason, but COVID makes it impossible to visit them on their turf, in person. I’ve had to learn to build real relationships with customers virtually, and, while I would still prefer to meet them in person, I have to say the level of engagement has been amazing.

Q. What were some of the highlights for Sales Cloud in 2020? 

One thing that really impressed me, given the history of my last startup, is how Salesforce designed Einstein (Salesforce’s AI technology) to democratize the value that companies of all sizes and all industries are able to get from AI. Most companies have created bespoke AI solutions, but Salesforce embeds Einstein across the platform to make it available to the masses. Just this year, we rolled out Einstein Opportunity Scoring to all Sales Cloud customers, which uses AI to help every rep understand the likelihood that a deal will close, and what factors are impacting that likelihood. It’s baked right into the platform so that all sales teams get intelligence directly within their workflow, which is a huge benefit for our customers.

We also got to work fast to make sure sales organizations had the tools they needed to sell from anywhere. We introduced a suite of virtual sales tools, including Salesforce Meetings to make virtual calls more engaging and productive. We implemented Einstein Call Coaching for Video, to make sure that sales reps could continue to get personalized coaching and guidance when sales calls shifted from phone to video. These innovations come at no extra cost. And of course, I’m so proud that we were able to help companies like 3M and McAfee enable their field sales teams to shift to working from home quickly when COVID hit. 

Q. How has the CRM market changed since its inception?

CRM started as databases of customer information on client servers. Salesforce obviously broke out of that model by bringing CRM to a web browser and introducing the concept of Software as a Service. Then we brought the full power of CRM to mobile, and led the B2B AI revolution.   

As far as platforms go, I believe messaging will be an important interface layer to the CRM, which is why platforms like Slack are so exciting.

I’m at Salesforce because I feel like we’re still in the early innings of CRM, and I think we can flip the model of reps working for CRM to CRM working for reps.

Q. How has COVID impacted the CRM market, and what changes do you see on the horizon for this year and beyond? 

COVID has forced us to rethink how we do almost everything, and how we can better serve our customers. It’s been very challenging, but if nothing else, it forced everyone to innovate and adapt to this new norm.

For example, Salesforce Meetings came about because society was trying to replicate in-person meetings online, instead of rethinking how meetings could be done better. It’s similar to when television was just pointing a camera at a stage, before people learned how to use the medium to its full potential. 

With Salesforce Meetings, virtual meetings are more productive and engaging. We help reps prep before they head into the meeting; we’ve blended video and slides for a more engaging presentation experience; and after the meeting, reps can automatically get automated next steps at a glance, and schedule the follow up meeting in a single click.

Another example is how we think about onboarding people. It is proven that we learn a lot more by doing, getting feedback and iterating — and yet so much of onboarding and education is going into a classroom, taking a quiz, and sending you out in the world. With Einstein Call Coaching, we’re able to capture conversations and have AI analyze them, share those insights with the team, and help managers provide 1:1 coaching to uplevel their entire organization. This is critical to remote work when managers cannot sit in a room with a rep and guide them, or when reps are siloed and cannot hear best practices from their colleagues on the sales floor. 

Lastly, we’re going to see more get done in an asynchronous way. In the past, I may have sent a contract over to a customer and offered to schedule a review meeting the following week. Now, I might attach a video to the email in which I walk you through the contract, so you can review on your own time. I can then embed a messaging link so that you can reach me immediately if you have any questions. Anything that shrinks the sales cycle is going to be impactful. 

Q. What do you anticipate being the single biggest change to selling in 2021?

Sales people will need to evolve their interpersonal selling skills as virtual sales evolves. Video fatigue is real – we’re in back to back calls all day, and reps are, as always, under a lot of pressure to make their numbers. In the midst of that, how do you still make sure that you’re listening to your customers and team to solve problems together? Can you remain sensitive to what other people are going through, whether it’s in their personal lives or their professional lives? 

Empathy plays a big role in sales, but by nature it’s easier to read some of those body signals when you’re face-to-face, so being remote adds a barrier to break through. We need to be able to listen more than we talk and really seek to understand the other person, whether it’s a customer, direct report, teammate or manager. Our biggest challenge is not a technological problem, but a behavioral one.

Q. Which technology do you anticipate having the biggest effect on sales in the coming year?

Messaging and conversation technology is going to be very important. How AI can analyze phone calls, video calls, email exchanges and other conversational channels to understand the difference between A players and B players on your team, and use those learnings to get everyone selling like your top reps? Messaging technologies will allow for faster and smoother coordination between internal teams and between those teams and customers.

Q. What are your top priorities this year?

My focus is helping our customers run amazing sales organizations. I expect the future will actually look a lot like today — even with vaccines, we’ll adapt to a hybrid model of working from anywhere. Depending on your industry, some will be more remote and some will be more in person. Ultimately, we’re all trying to retain the best talent, which involves flexible work from anywhere policies, with technologies that make their lives easier and more efficient. The only answer is to adapt as sales organizations and as sales leaders. It’s our job to make sure that our reps are even more effective than they were before the pandemic. 

As far as my personal goals for Sales Cloud, I am focused on building an amazing team, having fun and making sure CRM works for you, not the other way around.