In 2014, Salesforce acquired RelateIQ to enhance its product suite with the Relationship Intelligence ™ technology and predictive analytics that the small startup was founded on. Going into Dreamforce 2015, RelateIQ was rebranding to SalesforceIQ, but also launching two products: SalesforceIQ for Small Business, the CRM solution for small and medium-sized businesses; and SalesforceIQ Inbox, a suite of productivity apps for Salesforce customers. The goal was to take the amazing data products that RelateIQ customers were already using and transforming them with a solid design so that every salesperson could use it
To achieve this, SalesforceIQ had to scale its team and bring in the right resources to quickly build the right products, many of which were in the initial conceptual stages.
A new way of thinking about collaboration
Sequence was selected to work with the SalesforceIQ team with a focus on creating the user experience and visual design for the Chrome extension and iOS/Android mobile apps that would connect with Salesforce Sales Cloud – all within a tight timeframe. But this is more than just a story about accelerated product development; it is a story about a new way of approaching collaboration and partnership.
SalesforceIQ teamed with Sequence to bring the right expertise and abilities in design, user experience and development. The collaboration was different than other experiences, because SalesforceIQ and Sequence collaborated from the very early stages of product vision and concept. So the development of these new products was really a collective effort to shape and create seamlessly as one team. The launching off of the project began with whiteboard sketches from Adam Evans and Stephen Ehikian, enabling Sequence to be a part of this critical stage of development.
The design and engineering challenges
The design and engineering challenges of this project were very much interdependent. One of the primary hurdles from an engineering standpoint, was how to connect Sales Cloud data to the SalesforceIQ technology platform. The entire outcome had to reflect the roots of what SalesforceIQ has always delivered: simplicity.
There were also design and user experience challenges in building the front-end Chrome extension and the mobile apps. To work effectively, they had to display elegance and intuition in their automation, while at the same time work seamlessly with Sales Cloud. SalesforceIQ’s ability to bring Relationship Intelligence – automatically extracting data on customer relationships from everyday sources like email, contacts, meeting invites and more – could only be powerful if the information is delivered in a way that is simple and intuitive to the user.
As we worked through the development of these products and the integration, we also uncovered opportunities to create new functionality throughout the user experience. This also incorporated design and branding components – knowing that all the elements of the user experience reflect the strength of who SalesforceIQ is and what it delivers. From how the icons were designed, to email notifications to sign up pages; all elements were contemplated in the context of the broader user experience.
From concept to product in three months
So how did we address these challenges in the most effective way? Three things were constant:
And this began with Adam and Steve and the entire SalesforceIQ team engaging with us from the very beginning of the creative process.
In terms of collaboration, SalesforceIQ invited us into their working culture, granting us the access to allow us to do what we do well. We had a direct day-to-day working relationship at their offices and became both a strategic and operational extension of the SalesforceIQ team.
Agility and accountability worked hand in hand. Creating daily production cycles pushed us to iterate quickly while still retaining a holistic approach to the user experience. But accountability up and down the decision chain was critical to avoid bottlenecks. Everyone involved was held responsible, including leadership, for meeting deadlines and daily review cycles. This allowed Sequence and SalesforceIQ team members to move rapidly and with confidence to the next stage.
In the end, we came together to execute on a successful launch of the products and integration at Dreamforce ’15, realizing the vision that Adam and Steve started with their team in their kitchen to truly deliver on the future of CRM being intelligent.
Looking back, moving forward
As we reflect on this work while we continue collaborating on the next set of features and functionality, it’s clear that this was not your average, everyday approach to bringing products to market. It was about rethinking the idea of collaboration and rapid prototyping and development. The challenge of bringing ideation, speed, and high quality development together for success could only be met by the right team and culture of collaboration, agility and accountability.