SalesTechStar Interview with Ketan Karkhanis, EVP & GM, Salesforce Sales Cloud
Ketan Karkhanis, EVP & GM, Salesforce Sales Cloud chats about how emerging technologies such as generative AI and automation are largely being used to increase sales productivity:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar Ketan, tell us about yourself and more about your role at Salesforce…
Thank you for having me, it’s an honor to speak with you at such a pivotal time for sales professionals. I’m humbled to be leading Sales Cloud, the cloud that started it all for Salesforce. Sales Cloud has been the Gartner MQ leader for 16 years, and thousands of sales professionals trust us to help them grow their business. They’re why my team and I wake up each morning with the drive and dedication to give them more value, more innovation, and more solutions that help them be successful in their jobs.
Our day-to-day is focused on helping sales decision-makers understand how they can empower their teams with emerging technologies such as generative AI and automation to increase productivity, and ultimately drive more sales by being trusted partners to their customers.
We’d love your thoughts on the growing use and benefits of generative AI – how do you feel it is going to impact sales and the future of Salestech?
I like to always point out that there’s nothing artificial about artificial intelligence (AI). It’s all about augmenting your intelligence with guidance and precision insights that make you more productive. There’s a lot of buzz around AI today, and rightfully so. At Sales Cloud, we are focused on applying AI to problem scenarios that every sales rep faces. In fact, we recently launched Einstein GPT that will empower sales teams to tackle those challenges head on. Think of these scenarios:
- What if you had a dedicated assistant answering all of the questions in your CRM? Einstein GPT has the potential to do exactly that, automating time-intensive sales tasks like composing emails and scheduling meetings, while also helping reps prepare for and personalize each customer interaction by analyzing past meeting notes. With Einstein GPT, reps will spend less time on time-intensive managerial tasks and more time growing customer relationships and identifying upsell opportunities.
- Imagine if you could automate top of the funnel pipeline generation? Einstein GPT will replace web-to-lead forms with personalized customer communications based on historical data and customer interactions.
- Lastly, Einstein GPTs generative AI capabilities can help automate lead qualification and prospecting, ensuring sales reps are focused on really high quality leads. It’ll boost pipeline growth by crafting personalized emails to engage with the most promising prospects — transforming a tedious process into something totally autonomous.
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When it comes to SMB teams, what types of sales tools do you feel should figure as part of their sales processes and tech stack?
SMBs are resource constrained, meaning they need to spend less time on tools and more time with their customers. This also means they should avoid technology sprawl and consolidate on a single platform like Sales Cloud, where automation and AI are standard capabilities. These are two technologies that help SMBs do more with less, which is needed now more than ever before.
In fact, Salesforce’s most recent State of Sales report found sales teams use an average of 10 tools to close deals — and nearly 7 out of 10 sales reps say they’re overwhelmed by the number of tools. This is where fully-integrated AI and automation tools can make an immediate impact!
Can you talk about some of the ways you’ve been seeing global sales teams (SMBs) power their sales ops and streamline efforts to drive ROI?
Absolutely. Let’s talk for a minute about Vitality, a business offering insurance and investment products. To meet the challenges that come from selling to mixed audiences – who in Vitality’s case are consumers, insurance brokers and financial advisors – the company streamlined to one CRM to give everyone a 360 view of the customer and improve their sales and renewals processes.
There’s also ENGIE, a global energy player that reorganized its sales structure with Sales Cloud and implemented account management tools that helped the company achieve a 1.7x increase in opportunities created.
Ultimately, in order to power sales operations and streamline efforts, SMBs need to be data driven without being saddled with things like data warehouses and complicated technologies. At every step of the way, SMBs need data and guidance to show what happened within their business operations, what can happen, and what they should do about it.
SMBs need to also prioritize their internal sales enablement programs so that they can raise the game of their teams, without the added expense of hiring a separate enablement organization. They need enablement and best practices right out of the box.
If you had to share five best practices with SMB sales leaders based on today’s dynamics, what would they be?
You’ll often hear me say that sales professionals are one of the most resilient in today’s workforce – and there has never been a better time to be a sales professional. To adapt to today’s challenging selling landscape, I encourage sales leaders to:
- Eliminate tech sprawl and consolidate to a single platform.
- Invest in outcome-focused enablement programs.
- Empower your teams with technology that gives them the insights they need when they need them the most.
- Help your sellers meet their customers where they are. Not only in virtual and in-person environments, but also showing up on all the right channels, like email, social media, live chat and messaging platforms.
- Put greater prioritization on the customer relationship by engaging with them in personalized ways to establish long-lasting relationships that can produce predictable revenue streams.
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What do you feel about the future of salestech?
There has been a renaissance in salestech and Salesforce is leading the way. AI and automation are now standard capabilities of your sales stack, which is a complete game changer. Generative experiences through Einstein GPT will eliminate tedious tasks like writing emails so sales reps can focus on closing deals, and built-in best practices will help you automate and standardize sales playbooks.
AI and automation tools are only getting smarter and, as they do, sales teams that utilize them will be more successful.
We’re prioritizing these innovations at Salesforce and I’m excited to see how Sales Cloud will continue to help its customers drive success now.
Sales performance management software from Salesforce optimizes business processes, increasing conversions.
Ketan Karkhanis is EVP & GM, Salesforce Sales Cloud
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