I hope everyone out there had a Happy Holidays and even though this probably wasn’t a normal holiday for you, that you were able to enjoy it and have some time with your family. As with almost everyone, I’m looking forward to 2020 being over with and letting 2021 have a chance at doing better. It’s a low bar to cross so hopefully, 2021 can come through. From the Salesforce side, very early in 2021 we’ll be getting the Spring 21 release and it’s a big one. Part of this is the ever-expanding suite of cloud and products – with Spring 21 we’re up to 12 different Industry Clouds/offerings for example – which makes it impossible to cover everything in a series of blog posts. Salesforce has gone back to the bear mascot – Codey – who is definitely my least favorite mascot, so not loving the new logo. At least with this one, you can’t see the dead stare in Codey’s eyes…
For the posts themselves, we’re going to try and sprinkle in a few smaller posts with the big core posts this release to cover some of the other products. Here’s our plan so far, but we’ll probably add to this:
Part 1 (this post!) – Sales Cloud, Platform, Manufacturing Cloud and Einstein for Sales
Part 1b – High Velocity Sales
Part 2 – Service Cloud, Service Cloud Einstein and Surveys
Part 2b – Field Service
Part 2c – Service Cloud Voice
Part 3 – Communities / Experience Cloud, Salesforce CMS. Chatter, Salesforce Anywhere (Quip), and Files
Part 4 – Rotating Topic: Pardot
Alright, let’s get at it. As with all of the posts this year, the assumption is that you’re on Lightning as most of these features require Lightning. I’ll call out if something doesn’t. The order is mostly random / based on what I think is the coolest. Finally, I have a good trip hop mix going, so it’s a good time for blogging.
Salesforce Meetings – Salesforce Meetings is a really interesting new feature that is absolutely set up to address the new virtual realities. Surprisingly, this isn’t Salesforce trying to enter the meeting market, but rather they are taking the approach of enhancing the experience and helping sales users navigate these virtual meetings better. To start with, you launch your meetings from a new Meeting Digest tab within the event record. This Meeting Digest is meant to be the home base for the meeting and the sales user coordinating it. It has details about the attendees – and handy prompts to update contact/lead records or even create a Salesforce record if one doesn’t exist for an attendee. If you’re using Einstein Activity Capture there are also insights about these attendees presented for the user. You can also see details around the record associated with the event including the activity timeline which is very handy. Finally, you can see associated documents to the meeting that are stored within Salesforce Anywhere (Quip). Looks like it doesn’t present documents directly attached to the event record – but it’s tough to tell. From this tab, you can launch a virtual meeting that leverages Zoom, Google Meet, or Cisco Webex. This is where Salesforce Meetings gets really interesting as even though you are using one of those three services, Salesforce Meetings is enhancing the presentation experience. First, the audience gets to see the presenter side by side with the presentation itself. This is definitely a nice touch when you’re trying to sell something virtually. You can see it in the screenshot below, and it looks pretty slick. In addition to the enhanced presentation mode itself, the sales user has some really nice controls presented to them. They can switch content without stopping and resharing a window by using the toolbar at the bottom. They can also toggle the views very easily to showcase the video or the presentation at different points – and again, without having to stop the presentation itself. Finally, there is a presenter’s panel that allows you to take notes without the audience seeing it. This is huge for users as usually you either have to do this entirely on a different monitor, or you’re popping up an app that sometimes blocks what you are presenting. Especially when you’re in presentation mode with something like Powerpoint, you’re pretty blocked from taking notes so this is very useful. Overall this is a really great concept and adds total value to the sales user’s experience – especially while virtual meetings are so critical. Now, the only negative is, for now it looks like this is limited to customers on Performance or Unlimited edition. So all of us (Gears included!) on Enterprise probably need to wait until Summer 21 to get this. This is essentially Salesforce’s way to do a soft launch so hopefully, we’ll see it on Enterprise Edition then (hopefully).
Email Experience Enhancements – The Lightning Email Experience (along with the Activity Timeline) is one of the best features and improvements with the move to Lightning, and Spring 21 delivers several new enhancements. First, your uses can now see soft bounces from within the activity history. Previously you could only see if there was a hard bounce. A soft bounce is a temporary issue and usually means the person you’re trying to email is still at the company, but your email didn’t reach them. Definitely key info to know. In Winter 21 users got the cool ability to delay the send of emails they were composing – essentially schedule times for the email to be sent later. Now you can use this same functionality for replies as well (as with the Send Later feature, you do need to be using one of the add-on Email products for this: High Velocity Sales, Inbox or Sales Cloud Einstein). Finally, if you’re a Zoom client as well, users can now link their Zoom account and automatically add meeting links to invitations when using the Insert Availability functionality.
Einstein Activity Capture Improvements – Spring 21 delivers a few administrative improvements to Einstein Activity Capture. Einstein Activity Capture is currently the preferred method to sync with Gmail or Outlook, so it is increasingly an important feature for administrators. First, the setup itself is now much easier as you can add Profiles to your various Einstein Activity Capture configurations instead of having to do it user-by-user. Especially if you have a large user base, that was a lot of setup administration to get this turned on that now gets a ton easier. In addition, you can now control the field mapping between Contacts and Events as they sync. This lets you control what fields map from Gmail/Outlook to Salesforce, but note, you can’t adjust any of the standard fields that are leveraged for the actual match process within the sync. So really this is for the extension fields you’ve added. We also can now sync internal events. Previously, if the event had attendees all from your company’s domain, it would be excluded from the sync. Now you can change that to allow these to sync which is super handy when trying to view the availability of users from within Salesforce. Finally, when syncing Contacts from Gmail or Outlook, we get a stronger pecking order for matching when multiple records match the email address. Standard users that match will be prioritized, followed by contacts, then leads, and then other types of users (like Community users). This prioritization order should stop some inconsistent matching behavior and makes sure the most relevant record is selected by default.
Einstein Opportunity Scoring Global Models – Lead Scoring received this a while ago – and this really is the power of the Salesforce ecosystem in action. If you don’t have enough Opportunity data (which a lot of us smaller organizations never will have) to create your own model for Opportunity Scoring, instead of just having to be stuck without this feature you can now leverage the global model. The global model is an anonymous aggregated data model pulled from all of the Salesforce instances that allow the sharing of their data (which is a lot). When your own instance reaches a point where you have enough data to be statistically accurate, it’ll automatically switch to your own model. As a reminder, this is a free Einstein service and now that everyone can leverage this (it even works in Classic!), there’s no excuse not to turn this on and benefit from some AI in action.
High Velocity Sales Updates – There are a ton of new enhancements to High Velocity Sales with Spring 21 – enough to warrant a blog post of its own. As I mentioned above, we’re going to do a couple of more focused ones and we’ll add the link below once it’s ready. In the meantime, we also just recently did a webinar all about High Velocity Sales and how it can power your inside sales team. Check it out as there is a ton here.
Introduction to High Velocity Sales Webinar (HVS): Watch Now
Link Related Objects to Opportunity Products – This is a great new feature. Simply put, you can now create a lookup relationship with Opportunity Products. It works just like any other lookup relationship, where you can see the related list from the record, and run reports off it, etc. This is one of those things you don’t hit as a need often, but when you do, it’s usually a big and important process and the lack of this functionality blocks it.
Multi-Field Selection in Report Builder – Sometimes it’s the little things that make the big difference. I love the new report builder, but having to go one field at a time while building reports was definitely a drag. Now that is a thing of the past as you can drag multiple fields in at a time simply using the Ctrl and Shift keys (or for you Mac users, the Cmd). Build those reports even faster!
Pass Filters into a Dashboard URL – A cool new feature for Dashboards that lets you leverage the URL to pass in automatic filters to your dashboards. Instead of having to navigate to the dashboard and setting each of the filters themselves, you can pre-populate those filters with values within the URL of the dashboard so when it’s opened the filters are already applied. Great way to embed a URL within a record that takes values from that record (like Account Name) and dynamically drops it into the dashboard filters.
Activity Timeline on Android Mobile – One of my favorite Lightning features is the Activity Timeline and it was just recently made available via the mobile app but sadly only on iOS (I could do a 5-page rant about my overall confusion on why iOS gets everything first – it has like 2% of the market share – which isn’t small, but that means Android has literally 5X that market share. Maddening). With Spring 21, it’s now available on Android as well and this will allow you to view your Activity Timeline from the mobile app for Leads, Opportunities, Accounts, and Contacts. Awesome to see this terrific feature fully rolled out on the mobile app now.
Mobile Forecasting – Speaking of the mobile app, users can now update and adjust their forecasts from the mobile app. From the mobile app you can modify any forecasts you own, but you can’t modify your subordinates’ forecasts. Despite my mini-rant above, this is available on both iOS and Android out of the gate.
Custom Actions on Recently Viewed Lists – The Recently Viewed list view is the default one for all objects, and probably the main one most of your users see as they probably don’t leverage the favorites feature. Previously, you could only see the standard actions on this list view for each object, but now you can add custom actions. Big help for a key list view.
Inline Duplicate Catching – When you have Dynamic Forms enabled (and if you haven’t started using Dynamic Forms you’re seriously missing out. See more from our Winter 21 update) Salesforce will automatically check to see if you’re working on a potential duplicate. If so, it’ll warn you that this might be a duplicate before you hit save. Less duplicates is always good.
Manufacturing Cloud Enhancements – We cover Manufacturing Cloud here because it’s mostly tied to sales processes – but just as the name says – very specific to manufacturing customers. If you’re in manufacturing and curious how this expands Sales Cloud (and it does in a big way) we wrote a detailed blog post about it and how it can help your business. We also did a webinar with a live demonstration. Both are worth checking out. Spring 21 delivers a few enhancements to this and it also introduces a big new product called Rebate Management that goes hand in hand with Manufacturing Cloud. We’ll cover Rebate Management in the next bullet, so let’s focus on the pure Manufacturing Cloud enhancements here. First up, we get a new conversion feature. Instead of a Lead conversion, it’s a Sales Agreement conversion. Basically, from any Opportunity or Quote, you can convert them into a Sales Agreement using the new Connect API. It’s not an out of the box UI like the Lead conversions, but it does allow you to map the fields and objects via the API. The Sales Agreement is a critical piece of Manufacturing Cloud so being able to create these automatically for the sales teams is a big improvement. Next up, in the Account Forecasting, we can now leverage the opportunity quantity amounts from revenue schedules. This makes a ton of sense as the revenue schedules really are how users are trying to forecast how this opportunity might be fulfilled and it has a ton of great time-based forecast data. Now you can automatically pull that data into the Account Forecasting display within Manufacturing Cloud. Love it. Finally, a small but very useful tweak – you can now give your users the ability to delete Sales Agreements. This wasn’t possible previously, and especially as users were trying to figure out how they worked this was causing issues with bad agreements. Now users can delete and start over. Just like any other object’s delete permissions – you need to give this to the users, so you can restrict it if you still want to.
Rebate Management – Rebate programs are a common tool that manufacturing companies leverage to incentivize their channel. In a lot of businesses within manufacturing this is not an option, but an expectation as it’s the norm in that space. They can be extremely powerful when done correctly – incentivizing partners to move products that have excess inventory, steering them clear of products that are backlogged, a tool to break into new markets, or simply to ensure your products are top of mind when you have a non-exclusive channel. As powerful as they can be, they also can be a total beast to manage. Salesforce already has all of the pieces in place to make this a much easier process to manage with Manufacturing Cloud and Experience Cloud (formerly Community Cloud) and they just launched a new Rebate Management product to do just that. The Rebate Management product is being released as part of Spring 21 and allows manufacturers to manage and analyze their rebate programs from tracking individual program performance to reporting on channel partner performance to overall insights around specific rebate metrics. There’s a lot in this product – the base objects to manage it, extensions for the Experience Cloud visibility, new Tableau dashboards for analysis, and even a new rules engine behind the scenes to power all of the calculations of orders to rebates. It’s a natural extension to Manufacturing Cloud. With this being such a major release, we’re going to do a blog post followed by a webinar post dedicated to this.Here’s the information to register: May 6, 2021 at 1pm Eastern: Register Here. In the meantime, feel free to reach out if this is something that is interesting to you. We’ll have one of our Manufacturing Cloud Architects get right back to you. Here are a few screenshots to give you an idea of how it looks. Super exciting stuff!
Track Accounts as Campaign Members – This is an exciting one for those customers that do Account Based Marketing, or even those in the B2B space that are trying to break into key accounts. Now you can add Accounts directly to Campaigns and run reports to see the effectiveness of those Campaigns against the target accounts. If this works the way I think it does, this is a big sigh of relief for a lot of Marketing folks as one of the biggest pain points is having to have a Contact associated to an Opportunity for it to count against a Marketing Campaign. A lot of times, Sales & Marketing are specifically targeting a company and trying to break in from multiple angles and campaigns. This might all just lead to one opportunity, but trying to get the attribution of what lead to that opportunity has always been tougher trying to force it through Contact records. This feature is a beta feature, so you’ll definitely want to test it out before flipping it on in production. One thing to note is that the notes specifically call out that this applies to all instances that use the Salesforce-Pardot connector. This seems to imply this doesn’t work without Pardot, even though it is on the Salesforce side of the config. Worth looking into though if you have a different Marketing Automation connected to Salesforce, but obviously for the Pardot users out there, all good news.
Convert Leads to a Person & Business Account at the Same Time – Interesting new feature that allows you to have a lead converted and simultaneously create a Person Account as well as a Business Account. To do this you need to use the Convert API to create the logic and you can’t use the standard lead convert feature. This is handy in a bunch of different use cases, but the biggest is householding. Especially when you’re dealing in the B2C space, each member of a household might be a customer – think of a bank who wants to sell to both heads of the home but also even potentially the kids when they get old enough to create a bank account. Now, while you want separate Person Accounts for each of them, you do want to group them somehow – which is typically where you create a “Household” account. Pretty standard practice, but it’s always been custom to build all the triggers to handle the automatic householding logic – this definitely helps the process.
More Roles – The number of Roles you can create has increased a whopping 10X from 500 to 5,000. If you need anywhere near 5,000 roles I seriously feel bad for you. Interestingly, this limit is automatic in new instances created after Spring 21, but for existing orgs, you need to contact Customer Support to get this increased. This comes with a system performance warning about using too many roles, so this is definitely something you want to think about before going nuts and exploding your role creep. Each rep does not need their own role…
Manual Sharing in Lightning – This is probably the last big feature that has been missing from Lightning and very happy to see it (although, it is a bit overdue). Now within Lightning, you can adjust the manual sharing rules of a record. No more having to flip to Classic to do this. For now, this is only available on Accounts, Opportunities, Cases, Contacts, Leads, and custom objects. So, it’s most of the objects. Otherwise, looking like the exact same functionality as Classic.
Lightning Flow Rebranding – Not a new feature, but a rebranding that can be a little confusing (a lot of new rebranding lately). Lightning Flow is now called Salesforce Flow and it covers the entire suite of process builder and flow builder features. As part of this, Lightning Process Builder and Lightning Flow Builder also drop the Lightning from their name and are simply Process Builder and Flow Builder. You’ll see a lot of these mentioned as Salesforce announces more around Einstein Automate which was first announced at Dreamforce. The Flow suite is a big part of the Automation space – which we are extremely excited about since we’re already working in the Intelligent Automation space!
Retiring Features – Here’s a list of the warnings and updates for features being de-activated or retired.
Read Only Profile – In new orgs only, you’ll no longer be able to use the Read Only profile. This won’t impact existing instances, however, as part of this, there is a new feature to convert the Read Only profile to a custom profile. Not a big deal here as you can mimic the profile with a custom one in new orgs. Personally, we always avoid the standard profiles anyway.
Original Territory Management – The now very old original Territory Management is being retired with the next release – Summer 21. In other words, if you’re still using it, you are officially on the final clock and have until around July to get off and move to Enterprise Territory Management. Once this goes, you won’t be able to get at the data or use any of the functionality, so it’s legit gone.
Legacy Inbox Chrome / Outlook Add-in – The old legacy version of the Inbox extension for Outlook / Chrome is being retired on 3/31/21. Once this is retired it’ll be unusable. Make sure you’re not still on this and if so, get onto the latest version from AppSource Store (Outlook) / Chrome Web Store (Gmail).
Outlook Integration – Support for older versions of Outlook is ending on 12/31/21. If you’re on Outlook 2013, 2016, or 2019 your integration is going to stop working. It’s not something you can fix on the Salesforce side, but more on the Microsoft side where you’ll need to get at least to Office version 16.0.11629 and later and Windows 10 versions 1903 and later.
Salesforce for Outlook – Notice a trend here? All of these older methods of connecting Outlook are going away – so get on Einstein Activity Capture. That said, if you’re still a Salesforce for Outlook user, you have a little bit of time. The side panel will go away in June 2021, but the entire product won’t retire for another 2 years after in June of 2023. Needless to say, this probably won’t be updated at all during that window.
Alright, well that’s quite the start for Spring 21. We’ll have the High Velocity Sales features posted soon – and there is a lot there in Spring. Our core post on Service Cloud, Einstein for Service and Surveys is also up next, so be sure to check that out too. If you have any questions on these features or you’d like some help in implementing them, please give us a shout and one of our Solution Architects will get right back to you. Thanks again for reading and have a happy and safe new year!
Harry is the CEO and founder of GearsCRM, with more than 18 years of experience working with the Salesforce platform. Outside of Gears, Harry enjoys debating Star Wars and Marvel with his son and sharing music and videos with his daughter. He is an avid racquetball player, bleeds Dodger blue, cries Jets green and always tries to find spare time to read a good fiction novel.