Sales people want to spend more time selling and less time doing the administrative tasks associated with it, and Microsoft Corp. and Salesforce say they want to help with a new feature for Outlook.

This week the companies jointly announced Lightning for Outlook, an add-in that integrates Salesforce’s customizable customer relationship management (CRM) software with Microsoft’s signature email platform, allowing sales representatives to create a personalized inbox they can use at their desks or on the field without switching programs.

In a June 28 statement, Salesforce general manager and executive vice president Adam Blitzer said that with sales representatives increasingly mobile, whether on notebooks or smartphones, adding Salesforce to their inboxes was a logical step in helping increase their productivity and rate of sales.

As with Salesforce’s original software, Lightning for Outlook users are invited to customize their experience using Lightning Components, blocks of code that can be used to create new apps or added to third-party apps using the company’s Lightning App Builder. To support enterprise app developers, Salesforce and Microsoft also plan to release a Lightning Components Framework in Outlook this fall.

In the meantime, Lightning for Outlook’s present features allow users to:

  • Easily search for Salesforce records within Outlook;
  • Automatically sync contacts and calendar events across Outlook and Salesforce;
  • View and activate apps in Outlook as they could in Lightning;
  • Add new Lightning Component functions to Outlook – for example, using Salesforce SteelBrick CPQ to update a price quote from within Outlook or use a partner component like enterprise sales acceleration software Altify.

The Lightning for Outlook add-in is available now for Windows, Mac, and online-based Outlook users via the Office Store at no additional cost to all Sales Cloud users, and will be coming soon to Outlook Mobile.

Lightning for Outlook is only the latest in a series of joint solutions that Microsoft and Salesforce have co-released since announcing a strategic partnership in 2014. Other collaborative offerings have included a Microsoft Office edition of the Salesforce1 app, an integration of Lightning with Skype for Business, and login integration between Salesforce, Office 365 and Azure Active Directory.

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