Navigating changes to Salesforce for Outlook

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Salesforce for Outlook is being sunsetted in 2027, meaning that current users of the add-in will have to find alternate options to support their workflows. 

In a recent webinar, Beyond Salesforce for Outlook: Staying ahead of major changes, we discussed the transition, how to prepare for it, and ways to use this as an opportunity to improve your sales processes. 

The webinar featured: 

  • George Shalhoub, Director of Financial Services at Plative
  • Dan Klek, Head of Enterprise Sales & Alliances at Affinity

Watch the full conversation or keep reading for the highlights, marked with timestamps so you can hone in on key moments. 

What is Salesforce for Outlook? 

Starts at 2:11

Salesforce for Outlook is a widely used add-in that integrates the Salesforce CRM with Outlook. Shalhoub notes that Salesforce has offered this integration since its inception, and it allows users to:

  • Access and manage Salesforce data directly from their inboxes 
  • Quickly view information about the people included in their email chains and calendar invites  without having to switch between applications

Salesforce for Outlook will be sunsetted by the end of 2027. However, some functionality has already been withdrawn. Navigating this transition thoughtfully and proactively can provide an opportunity for Salesforce users to improve their workflows. 

Three tips for finding the best Salesforce for Outlook alternative 

Starts at 5:08

Although the Salesforce for Outlook add-in is a small component of a company’s overall tech stack, Shalhoub notes that it’s critical for many users.

He says, “Whenever there is an app that is an integral part of a firm’s business process and an extremely important one for end users, it’s a key function that—while it is a small piece of the overall tech stack for our clients—[is] so widely used [that] you need to make sure you get this right.” 

He recommends three tips for approaching the transition.

1. Understand the timeline

Starts at 6:12

Shalhoub notes that transitioning from Salesforce for Outlook isn’t necessarily a quick and easy process of moving from one integration to another. Instead, given the ample tools and platforms that offer similar solutions, it’s important to take the time to assess your options. 

To evaluate alternate tools, Shalhoub recommends a minimum of six weeks and prioritizing two factors:

  • The must-have features and functions of your end users
  • The features and functions your end users wanted all along

He notes, “This is a great opportunity to make an improvement to this process and tool that, once again, is so integral to their [workflows].” 

2. Determine who needs to use the tool

Starts at 6:55 

To find a solution that accommodates different workflows, it’s crucial to identify the specific features that different users need.

Shalhoub says, “You really want to take the time to understand the different tiers of the end users and [the] key features and functions that they’ll need to have so they can continue, essentially, doing their jobs.”

For instance, he notes that users in business development will be primarily interested in the relationship component of the existing Salesforce for Outlook integration. For them, it’s crucial to ensure all relationships can be seamlessly pulled from Outlook into Salesforce. 

On the other hand, users who manage client relationships will be focused on ensuring that there’s a deep integration with their calendars, so that their client meetings are automatically pulled into Salesforce.

3. Ensure your tool has baseline features

Starts at 7:46

Once you’ve determined the features your users need, the final step is to make sure they’re present in the tools you’re evaluating. Shalhoub recommends verifying that the following essential features of Salesforce for Outlook are available:

  • A side window in Outlook that peers into Salesforce
  • Email tracking notifications
  • The ability to log tasks and create events in Salesforce that show up in Outlook (and vice versa)

He says, “Make sure that you do your diligence and understand what people are actually going to need to do when this transition takes place, so that, again, when the change happens, it is viewed as a value add.”

Why users are turning to Affinity for Salesforce

Starts at 9:55

To unlock more value and drive efficiency, Salesforce for Outlook users are transitioning to Affinity for Salesforce. Shalhoub says, “I’ve been looking for something like this, and my clients have been looking for something like this, forever [...] The fact that this is all in one package is really what separates Affinity from every other platform out there.”

He highlights three features of Affinity for Salesforce that make it an ideal replacement. 

1. Automated activity capture

Starts at 10:34

Affinity for Salesforce syncs with Outlook to automatically capture contact and activity data directly in Salesforce. This can save more than 200 hours of manual data entry per employee per year — boosting productivity and enabling your team to focus on higher-impact activities.

2. AI-driven relationship insights

Starts at 11:40

Your Salesforce data contains valuable relationship insights that can help your team find their next deal. Using relationship intelligence, Affinity for Salesforce:

  • Maps your entire organization’s network so you have a better understanding of the nature of every relationship in it
  • Calculates AI-driven relationship strength scores based on the recency and frequency of your company’s interactions with connections

This information not only enables you to keep track of relationships across your company’s entire collective network but also makes it easier to build new ones by facilitating warm introductions — which can help close deals 25% faster. 

Shalhoub notes that “Every business really is relationship driven. That’s really the power of Affinity [... it enables you to] nurture and garner deeper relationships with your partners.”

3. Salesforce reporting

Starts at 15:12 

Sales leaders want to make sure their teams are properly managing every opportunity. Affinity for Salesforce enables sales leaders and executives to evaluate the deals that aren’t doing well and figure out why, for instance, a client relationship might be lagging.

With Affinity for Salesforce, you can generate reports to assess metrics like the number of emails sent or meetings held. You can also set up triggers to alert your team when a relationship score falls below a certain threshold. This way, you can track whether your team’s deals are progressing or if more client outreach is needed.

Embracing new solutions 

With the retirement of Salesforce for Outlook on the horizon, so it’s important to start thinking about the transition now. Shalhoub reiterates that, with the right consideration, you can use this as an opportunity to create a net positive for your organization.

To learn more about how you can navigate the upcoming changes to Salesforce for Outlook, watch our full webinar. You can expect to hear more about: 

  • How to prepare for the upcoming changes
  • Ways to use this as an opportunity to boost your sales performance
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