- Salesforce is a comprehensive cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform that connects sales, service, marketing and IT teams with personalized customer experiences.
- The Salesforce CRM is powered by Customer 360, which unites sales, marketing, service, commerce, IT, and analytics teams through digital workflows.
- Salesforce asserts that its features work together to propel business sales to new heights by enabling teams to make better data-driven decisions.
- According to Salesforce, over 150,000 companies use its CRM as an all-in-one platform, accessible from mobile devices or desktops, to power their decisions with data
- Salesforce primarily caters to mid to large-sized organizations although they do have plans geared towards smaller businesses.
- Salesforce purports that 96% of its customers reported exceeding ROI expectations.
- Salesforce has a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars on popular software review site G2.com and scored 4 stars out of 5 on trustradius.com.
Introduction To Salesforce
Salesforce is the world’s #1 customer relationship management (CRM) tool, with a market share of 19.5 percent as of 2021.
The following article will serve as a guide detailing some of the more salient points surrounding the Salesforce platform.
Let’s start with the basics…
What is Cloud-Based Software?
Cloud-based software is one that is delivered through an internet browser instead of local computers/servers.
Using cloud-based software enables users to improve data-security, track data in real-time, and manage analytics as long as an internet connection is present. Cloud-computing allows users to harness the computing power off site servers, while conserving limited local computing resources.
What is a CRM?
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is technology used to connect a company with its customers. The goal of which is simple: engage with customers more efficiently, streamline processes, and improve profitability.
In simple terms, CRM enables companies to understand their customers’ needs better and gather data to facilitate decisions that increase customer retention.
The Salesforce CRM powered by Customer 360 helps users to store customer and potential customers’ information in one place. Salesforce users can implement personalized customer touch-points, process sales, create innovative marketing campaigns, manage services, all with analytics available to the concerned departments.
What does the Salesforce CRM do for businesses?
- Manages and tracks customer information
- Captures customer emails
- Automates repetitive tasks
- Connects teams from any device
- Gives analytics and recommendations
Salesforce Core Products
What is Salesforce customer 360?
The Slack-first (Slack = ever-popular communication platform) digital workflow aims to unite sales, marketing, IT, service, commerce and analytics teams around the customer to provide an innovative way to work together.
Salesforce offers a suite of services that cover the essential needs of medium and large businesses. These allow businesses to use a unified system to store all information related to customers. Also known as a ‘360° customer view’. Organizations can oversee every aspect of the customers’ relationship with their business.
Salesforce allows products to be used seamlessly with one another to maintain its stance of having an all-in-one customer experience platform
Below is the suite of services offered under Salesforce Customer 360:
Let’s have a look at some of the main products Salesforce has to offer…
Managers benefit by using the unified view of history feature while leadership can chart plans better with dashboards, analytics and forecasting.
Sales Cloud Pricing
Salesforce Service Cloud supports the business’s customer support team. Customers can reach a company through email, live chat or phone. The customer agent then finds and processes a solution for the customers’ issues.
Service Cloud features include:
- Live Chat
- Queue Management
Service Cloud Pricing
Salesforce Marketing Cloud enables users to connect with customers through a digital marketing platform. A range of features facilitates users to market services to their respective clientele through email, text message, and social media e.g Facebook.
The Marketing cloud connects with the sales or service cloud-enabling the flow of CRM data between the tools.
The products mentioned above are most widely used and the most popular Salesforce tools, however, Salesforce also offers Experience Cloud, Commerce Cloud, and Analytics cloud that allegedly propels the functionality of the platform even further.
Other Salesforce Products/ Platform Services
Salesforce Einstein AI– Built into the platform, is an AI tech called Einstein. Einstein refines customer experience through predictive analytics.
Salesforce Einstein is available within Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, Analytics Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), App Cloud and Experience Cloud.
AppExchange- Similar to the Appstore on your iPhone, or Google Play on your Android. Users can search for and install apps to extend the functionality of Salesforce.
AppExchange helps users to solve customers’ issues with unique solutions and also provides seamless integrations with other Apps.
Mobile-The Salesforce Mobile App allows users to access their data anywhere at any time. What’s more, the mobile App claims to provide the functionality of the full-browser application.
There’s also a personalization feature on the Mobile App similar to the desktop version.
Who Should Use Salesforce?
Think about the large corporations that sell our most loved products or provide popular services- companies like Macy’s, Spotify, Toyota- they all utilize Salesforce in some capacity.
Salesforce’s focus on mid-sized to larger organizations means that it sometimes comes up short in regards to cost-effectively serving smaller organizations.
Salesforce does currently meet the needs of over 150,000 companies. A large percentage of these are US-based and are in the professional services, manufacturing or banking & financial services industries.
In a breakdown of Salesforce CRM customers by industry, the largest segment is Professional services (29.5%), followed by Manufacturing (11.3%) and then Banking and Financial Services (9.2%), according to data on Appsruntheworld.com.
Here is a sampling of Salesforce customers:
|CenturyLink||IT & services||United States||10K-50K||$20.7B|
|8×8||Professional Services||United States||1675||$446.0M|
|Aberdeen Asset Management PLC||Banking and Financial Services||United Kingdom||2050||$1.29B|
|UnitedHealth Group Incorporated||Healthcare||United States||330k||$255.6B|
|Mckesson Corporation||Life Sciences||United States||59k||$238.2B|
Key Salesforce Benefits – How Strong is The Force?
Innovative – Salesforce, to a large extent, has maintained an industry-wide reputation for continuous product improvement. As one of the earliest cloud-based CRM solutions on the market, the company has stayed true to its roots of innovation by heavily investing in proprietary tools like Einstein AI, data analytics, Big Data and bot technology. Salesforce customers can, therefore, typically expect new and improved solutions to be rolled-out on a fairly consistent basis.
Robust Ecosystem – Salesforce has an extensive ecosystem of developers, customers, and partners. Salesforce users can connect with each other, ask questions, and give feedback to the company, through the Salesforce Success Community.
Salesforce also has an application marketplace- AppExchange- that allows app developers and registered partners to make apps available for the public giving users a wider range of tools to boost what they can do with Salesforce.
Scalable – Salesforce is a CRM that has the capacity to scale with the user’s business. The platform is designed to effectively manage businesses with ever-increasing numbers of customers.
So whether it’s looking after a user’s current customer base or relationships that require nourishment over the next five to ten years, Salesforce is designed to scale with their clients.
Customizable- Users are not the only ones who like customization, customers do too. Salesforce understands this and gives users the option to heavily customize the software.
Users can personalize emails, dashboards, tabs, and reports through features like custom fields and page layout in a way that mimics what users and their customers like.
Complex- Users often cite challenges in customization and generating reports. Rather than within the platform itself, companies increasingly need to look towards third-party integrations to generate reports and visualize data to form valid conclusions about the next best steps for their business. When using Salesforce, smaller companies without a dedicated IT team can often be limited/confused in how to obtain the most-useful insights to help with data-driven decisions.
Low Adoption Rates – Companies cite that the adoption rates (the rate at which users stick with their software) for the Salesforce CRM can be relatively low. Fearful of the complexities provided by Salesforce, users that admit to not being “no-so-tech-savvy” can occasionally be de-motivated to consistently use the software.
Not ideal for Small Businesses- Relatively expensive pricing plans may place limits on what small-sized businesses can do with the software. Small businesses that may not need the full functionality of even the most basic plan may find that salesforce is holding them back instead of helping them grow.
Salesforce Rating From Around The Web
Salesforce secured 4.5/ 5 stars at g2.com.
The software scored 4 out of 5 stars on trust radius based on over 2000 reviews.
Zoho CRM helps users attract and retain customers and grow their company into a customer-focused organization.
Salesforce is not traditionally considered the most optimal CRM for small business owners or start-ups. Zoho in comparison has pricing and plans geared to serve different types of businesses.
Salesforce has App exchange and Chatter (a quasi-social media function that allows users to track important client events) while Zoho has Social media integration and proximity alerts for mobile to strengthen relationships with customers.
As mentioned earlier, price-wise Salesforce is generally for larger sized businesses. Zoho’s highest level plans cost relatively less when compared to a mid-level package from Salesforce. Zoho starts at $12/month while Salesforce starts at $25/month.
Compared to Salesforce CRM, Zoho CRM has:
- Easier Set up
- More usability
- Easier admin control
Let’s dig straight into what differences Salesforce CRM’s closest competitor, the ORACLE CRM has.
Starting with the user satisfaction score. Oracle CRM scored 99% while Salesforce, with a 97% user satisfaction, came second on user satisfaction.
Pricing starts at $25 for Salesforce and $75 for Oracle. Below is a detailed description of price differentials.
Salesforce CRM has a more extensive list of features, including but not limited to, visual workflow, file sync, and sales forecasting.
It also offers a wider range of integrations, a few being Zendesk, data cloud, JIRA and users can also connect Salesforce with any app, device or data using Mulesoft for an additional price. While Oracle only has a handful of integrations available, a couple of which are Lotus notes and Microsoft office.
In addition, Salesforce offers its services in a range of languages including English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Hindi and more. While Oracle only offers its services in English.
Salesforce has greater support available for its users in the form of Email, tickets, live support, training and phone while Oracle’s support is limited to only phone, live support and training.
Compared to Oracle CRM, software experts found Salesforce
- easier to use
- easier to set up
- easier to administer
- met needs better
Salesforce CRM Pricing
Below is a snapshot of Salesforce CRM pricing along with the different features of all the packages.
Is Salesforce CRM worth the cheddar?
From $25 per month to over $300 per month- Salesforce monthly fee varies depending upon the scale and need of each user. Don’t be startled by the difference between these two figures, the smartest thing users can do is get a price quote directly from Salesforce to see how much it will cost them.
The upfront cost depends on which plans or clouds users select as well as the number of users. Look at the snapshot below to get an overview of the pricing difference between the different clouds.
Does Salesforce Ultimately Live Up To Its Promise?
Salesforce does prove to be a robust customer relationship management (CRM) platform that can provide a unique experience for its users by helping them create more meaningful relationships with their customers through sales, marketing, service, experience, commerce and analytics clouds.
As the leader in the customer relationship management (CRM) market, Salesforce is most typically the first name users come across when they search for CRM options. But before jumping on the Salesforce bandwagon and “red-pilling” it to your staff, users must remember that it leaves many companies frustrated due to its relatively steep learning curve and to some, an overly-complicated pricing plan structure.
Part of the software’s functional challenges stem from the reporting tools. Rather than from within the platform itself, companies increasingly need to look towards third-party integrations to generate reports, visualize data, and stay up to date with Salesforce integrations to utilize the software fully. A tool designed to propel a business forward can at times act to hold it back. Finding the actions to generate reports, only to find out that that’s only half the story paired with poor visuals of the reports themselves are pain points frequently reported by Salesforce users.
Some users also cite low adoption rates (the rate at which employees fully adopt the software into their workflow) as a common problem with Salesforce. Employees that admit to being “not-so-technical” often attempt to tactfully (and not so tactfully) avoid using the software out of fear of its complexities.
Pricing also emerges as a potential pain point for some users. Each Salesforce “cloud” has its own pricing structure in different tiers. What’s more, is that for the commerce cloud, Salesforce doesn’t list pricing at all as users are required to request quotes. Confused yet? On top of that, pricing plans can indeed increase dramatically depending on what features users wish to add.
Wrapping up, we can safely conclude, based on the available evidence, that Salesforce is most useful for non-fledgeling type businesses. Smaller company sentiment does frequently contain words like “overwhelming” or “unwieldy.”
Making the pricing simpler, creating more effective dashboards, and reducing the need for non-native third-party apps may be something that Salesforce might want to work on in the future to dissuade its user base from exploring other comparable CRM options.
All in all, Salesforce does offer a beefy service for those mature organizations that need and demand an all-in-one CRM solution, but these benefits can be outweighed by a few critical downsides, which can be particularly biting for smaller organizations.