When most people think of Lightning Experience they think mostly about how it’s a new look and feel for Salesforce and that’s about it. Lightning Experience is much more than that. The past few Salesforce releases have been packed with features aimed at helping sales users to work smarter, faster and be more productive – but these features are exclusive to Lightning Experience. More than just a look and feel, Lightning Experience is truly a productivity tool for your users. It took a few releases to get to this point, but Lightning can handle nearly everything that a Sales user needs in Salesforce – and it now contains much more functionality than Classic does. If you’re an administrator for Sales Cloud and you are still on Classic, now is the time to figure out your Lightning cut-over plan. By staying on Classic you are blocking some great features from your users and that list will grow larger with each release. To help with that decision, not only are we listing our top 6 reasons of why we feel Sales Cloud users need to switch to Lightning below but we did a webinar on 2/28 walking through a live demonstration of all of the below. You can access the recording here. Alright, on to the top reasons!
- Customizable Pages – Page Layouts & Homepage – One of the biggest complaints about the Classic look and feel is that it isn’t flexible enough to really present the information that you want to see where you want to see it. The Homepage in Classic is a great example of this. The Homepage should be the launching pad to see what actions I need to take and what items need my attention. Classic had some components you could add, but it was pretty restricted in what you could present. Lightning changes all of that with the Lightning App Builder. The App Builder allows you to build pages – Homepages or Record Pages – that can present the information you need in however you’d like to display it. Keep in mind, you can build these out to be different for every user profile – so you have full flexibility to present the critical information needed for each user type.
The way to present this information is by using Lightning Components and dragging them onto the pages you build within the App Builder. The Homepage layout is essentially a blank slate that allows you to drag and drop components in, while the record layouts have multiple templates to choice from that allow for some interesting layouts. As far as the components go, the App Builder has a series of out of the box components that you can leverage or if you needed to you could build your own Lightning Components. There’s a ton to leverage out of the box though and we seem to get more components with each new release. Let’s cover a few of the interesting out of the box ones:
- Assistant – Assistant is a pretty cool component (it’s below in the Sales Representative Homepage screenshot) that highlights records that require some action. For example, if an Opportunity has overdue tasks on it, it will appear on the list. Same with an Opportunity that has an approaching Close Date but hasn’t had any activity for 30 days. It’s a great way to highlight records to a Sales user that need some attention versus having them have to search for them (and potentially not find them). Assistant is also a component I can see Salesforce continuing to expand with more types of records – especially as Einstein gets more embedded. This component can only be added to the Homepage.
- News – This is one of my favorite widgets and I personally think is indispensable for a Sales user. How about getting news delivered right to your Homepage, Account record or even an Opportunity and Lead records? This is exactly what the News component does. On your Homepage it will display News for recent records that you have visited. From the Accounts, Opportunity or Lead records it will show news about that specific Account as well as top executives at the Account. Way back in the day, you used to need to buy a different tool for something like this – OneSource or others – and then eventually Google News replaced that. All of those services still required a Sales user to search for the news. With this, it’s front and center for them making it incredibly easy to find out relevant and recent news about their territory. Huge.
- Filter Lists – Very cool and flexible component here that allows you to display a list of records. It acts just like a list view where you can apply conditions to the view and then only records that meet those conditions are displayed. This can be done for any object and really provides an administrator with a ton of flexibility on what they want to display. Want to display open Opportunities that are closing in the next 30 days? Or how about Leads that have been assigned to a User but are still in a New status? Or maybe even a list from a custom object – like requisition requests and what status they have? Even better, display all three of those. You’re not limited to one component for each type!
- Charts – This is maybe one of the biggest improvements – especially for the Homepage – with Lightning versus Classic components. With standard components you can now add a chart from any report you’d like – and again, you can add multiple charts if needed. Check out the Manager’s Homepage below where we have two charts on their Homepage as an example. In addition, the charts won’t change on you if you look at a different dashboard the way the Classic Homepage component does. So whatever critical chart is needed you can display and ensure it stays displayed. In addition to report charts, if you are a Wave customer, you can also add a Wave Dashboard to a component and make your Homepage interactive. Super slick. Finally, there is a standard charts component called “Quarterly Performance” that is specific to Sales and allows a user to add a target to the chart and it tracks their Opportunities against it. This is what we’re showing in the Sales Representative screenshot below and is only available on the Homepage.
- Record Layout Components – A lot of the information we’re used to seeing on a record has also been re-created as components. This makes them incredibly more flexible as it allows you to add them where you want on the page layout – or even remove if you’d like. The Chatter Feed, Related Lists, the Record Details themselves can be placed where you’d like them to be. In addition, you have a new Highlights Panel allows you to add a summary component that shows key details about the record (similar to how the Consoles have done for years). This means no more one-size fits all page layouts for your records – and you now have the ability to tailor each layout to the object / user profile as needed.
A great example is the Account versus the Opportunity layouts. Most users go to an Account in order to see information about the Account, see what is happening around the Account and to even log information against the Account. Typically though, they aren’t going there just to edit the Account’s information. This is a great case to put the Account record details on a secondary tab and focus on the information related to the Account. That main page layout could be a nice highlight component across the top, with related information about the Account right below it like News, key Related Lists and maybe even some informational Charts. Next to that could be the important actions like the Activities (which we cover below) and Chatter components. The layout really becomes the Homepage for that Account. Meanwhile an Opportunity is usually updated frequently. It’s not as much about the information related to the Opportunity but it’s all about the Opportunity itself. For this layout put the Opportunity details front and center and then surround it with the action components like Chatter and Activities and then for good measure, put that News component there as well. This is just two examples of how you can really mix and match your layouts to meet your user’s need. This was pretty impossible in Classic.
- Items to Approve – For the Homepage only, we haven’t lost the ability to highlight items that need to be approved.
- Company Hierarchy – For the Accounts page layout, there is a new and improved Hierarchy component that let’s you see across the entire Parent / Child relationships of the Accounts. It’s built to allow you to add whatever fields are important to be displayed, including images. This is one that just came out in Spring 17.
- Flow – This is in Beta, but huge possibilities here. From a component you can now launch a flow. This can be dropped onto the Homepage or record layouts and allows you to really expand the actions a user can take from a page.
Below are a few examples of pages we have built out – with no development. Everything below is out of the box. Page layouts might not seem like a big deal, but you need to think of it more as the method to surface and provide information. This flexibility allows an admin to build pages that displays the most important information first and presents easy ways for your users to provide information back. At the end of the day, CRM is all about information. With Lightning we can now expose that in ways we never could before.
- Task Management – Task Management gets multiple terrific improvements with Lightning. For Sales users proper Task Management is critical and Lightning provides some awesome tools to help Sales users with this. First, the Activities component really streamlines the ability to log the different Activity types. As I mentioned above, it can be placed anywhere on the layout you’d like and it’s a nice slick component that allows you to select what type of Activity you are logging. A subtle difference here is that this component is inline. That means you’re not losing context of the record you are logging this for when you go to create an Activity.
Within the component itself is an fully enhanced editor for sending emails. This alone will have your Sales users singing your praises as an admin. No more dealing with the clunky editor from Classic, but now you have an email component that behaves much more like Outlook / Google. If you’re familiar with the Case Feed in Service Console, this is very similar, but basically it’s easier to add users and contacts to the To / CC / BCC and you have a rich text editor for the email body. Users can easily insert attachments and merge fields as well as select templates to use. Speaking of templates, right from the editor Sales users can create new templates to use. Proud of that email you just wrote up over a new offer? Save it right from there as a template and re-use it! Finally, they even have the ability to preview the email before saving. Huge improvement.
Next up is the Activity Timeline component. I personally love this one. No more reading through two related lists in Classic to see what has happened. Now your activities are laid out in an easy to read timeline with the Next Steps (open activities) at the top – including highlights for overdue ones – and then Past Activity below it. There is an easy to use filter to change what types of Activities appear and what timeline you want to look at (see below). From each activity there is a simple drop down that lets you action against that Activity without even leaving the page – for example if you need to change the date of the activity you can and a simple pop-up appears. Again, this is subtle but this is a big improvement for the user experience. These types of improvements allow your users to work a Lead or Opportunity without having to continually leave that Opportunity or Lead record. Of course if you do want to go into the Activity itself you can click right into it.
Finally, there is actually a Tasks tab now. A single place to go to view all of your Tasks across all of your records. This behaves like most of the other tabs in that you’re brought into a List View and can change the view to look at different types of Tasks. Each Task you click on has its details appear in a panel beside the list view where you can edit or make changes right from there. Super convenient.
- Lead & Opportunity Management – Similar to Tasks, Leads and Opportunity have a bunch of great enhancements that only work in Lightning. First is the ability to create “Paths”. It’s easier to look at the images below then describe how it looks, but essentially it’s a visual path through the Lead Statuses or Opportunity Stages. By hovering over each stage / status you can easily see how long the record was in that stage / status. In addition each stage / status can have criteria that is required to be able to progress to the next one. This makes it very easy for a Sales user to visually see where they are and what they need to do to progress.
Kanban views are next. Instead of having to see Lead or Opportunity list views as a static grid a Sales User can flip the view to a Kanban view (see below). This gives the user a very easy to read visual of their Opportunities or Leads broken out by the stage / status. Right from each record tile you can click into the record to view or edit. In addition, the tile will show flags (similar to the one in the Assistant component above) if the Lead / Opportunity needs action – like past due activities or no activities in too long. Without leaving the Kanban you can create a Task or Event. Finally, you can optionally create a handy chart of the view on the right hand side. You don’t need Kanban to do this – all views support it – but it’s a nice visual to do this by stage to match the Kanban.
Specific to Opportunities, the Opportunity Products just got a very nice upgrade in Spring 17. Adding multiple Opportunity Products in Classic has always been a little painful and this is fixed with Lightning. Now you can search for multiple products and add them to your Opportunity without ever losing context or losing the Opportunity Products you had selected previously. It’s a much easier interface to work with than Classic.
Finally, all of the Task Management improvements are obviously available right in the Lead and Opportunity layouts so managing Leads and Opportunities becomes a ton easier.
- Productivity Improvements – There are some quick stand-alone Lightning features that really help a Sales user’s productivity. First is Chatter Streams which just came out in Spring 17. This is a terrific improvement. Now instead of a user having to go click into multiple records to look for the Chatter feed for each, they can create up to five unique Chatter Streams of their own. Each Chatter Stream is a collection of record feeds that they would want grouped into a single feed (or stream). Below is an example of a “Top Accounts” stream and you can see it’s showing Chatter from an Opportunity and an Account that has no relation to the other Opportunity.
Favorites is another great feature. Users can now “bookmark” records within Salesforce and see them in a Favorites drop down located in the top navigation. A nice single place to store links to your most important records.
One of my favorite Lightning features is the Calendar functionality and this is a great productivity tool for Sales. Calendar gives users the ability to create their own Calendar views of records within Salesforce. Want a Calendar of upcoming Marketing events? Upcoming Opportunities that are Closing? POCs that are about to end? With an easy to use wizard a user can create these and combine them in a nice calendar view. In the example below, we have upcoming Close Dates for Opportunities and Marketing Campaigns. A nice part of the feature is you can plot out start and end dates from any field on the record – so for the Marketing Campaigns example you can see how they stretch over multiple days.
Finally, another very helpful tool is the Utility Bar. This is right from the Consoles in that you can add a bar across the bottom of the page with components of its own. You click on the component to have them pop-up and they are persistent no matter what record you are looking at. A great place to put a Recent Items component, Flows or even a widget to take Notes.
- Reporting – The biggest thing that jumps out at you about the Lightning reports and dashboards is the new modernized look and feel. The reports are now much easier to read – especially Matrix and Grouping reports. Meanwhile the dashboards have borrowed the components from Wave and look very slick and modern and are much easier to read than the Classic dashboards. In addition to the look and feel, dashboards have a great zoom feature where you can click onto a component and it will pop to a full screen chart. Terrific for those charts that can’t easily fit into a smaller component. As we mentioned above, the chart components that you can put onto the Homepage or page layouts is a huge improvement as well. Finally, we showed it off in the Kanban section, but Lightning gives you the ability to chart out list views with a single click. This lets you visually see the collection of records in a view and is something users can easily do on their own. Overall, reports and dashboards are much more embedded in Lightning and easier for users to visualize what they are seeing.
- It’s the Future – and You’re Paying For It – Last but definitely not least is the fact that Lightning is not going away. It’s not only the future, it’s the present. If you’re a Sales Cloud customer and you’re using Classic, all of these features we listed above – and others we didn’t have the space to list – have all come out in the last three or four releases of Salesforce. These are new features that you can’t take advantage of – and you’re paying for them. One of the huge benefits of Salesforce versus other CRM tools out there is the consistent and packed releases that come out three times a year. Hundreds of pages of new features that you get as part of your subscription costs. If you’re not taking advantage of them you’re essentially not getting the full benefit of your subscription. Each new release will have another wave of new features that only work on Lightning Experience.
With very few exceptions, Sales Cloud is now fully functioning in Lightning Experience. Forecasting is probably the largest feature that still doesn’t work in Lightning, the rest a pretty minor features that most customers don’t use. If you are a heavy user of these remaining features, obviously you need to hold back on Classic for a bit longer, but if not there really isn’t an excuse anymore. That said, this isn’t a move that you just flip the switch on. All of these great productivity tools aren’t just going to magically make sense to your Sales users and the UI is drastic enough of a difference your users may take a little to get used to it. Rolling out Lightning is a great time to schedule refresher training for your Sales team. Walk them through all of these great tips and tricks and even others that you’ve been meaning to and have nothing to do with Lightning. This is a terrific opportunity to give your Sales team some great productivity improvements and a terrific looking experience at the same time. Stop holding back. It’s time to make the move and take advantage of Lightning.