In a Nutshell
- Suitable for enterprise use
- Extremely flexible with granular features
- AI-based lead scoring saves time
- Not the most beginner friendly option on the market
- Users might find the separation of functions confusing
- No on-premises installation option — a no-go for some companies
Salesforce at a Glance
Best For: Companies looking for a well-established CRM with plenty of features and which can scale with the organization.
Key Use: Salesforce’s expertise is in servicing companies that want to take advantage of sophisticated automation tools but which also want a CRM that is accessible for smaller SaaS companies with more basic needs.
Price: Sales Cloud is available from $25/user/month for the Essentials plan to $300/user/month for the top-tier Unlimited product.
Free Trial: Salesforce offers a 30-day free trial to all new users. No credit card is required.
Salesforce, the biggest name in the CRM industry, continues to develop features that impress its loyal user-base. For those that are not already part of the Salesforce ecosystem, there’s a lot to love about the product. For one, it’s a CRM that can scale with businesses as they grow from one-man-shows all the way to global powerhouses. It has an advanced reporting engine that can generate and schedule completely individualized reports based on businesses’ unique internal variables. Additionally, advanced users can tap into AppExchange where they can both develop their own extensions and gain access to a network of external developers and consultants who can help take their ideas further.
Tools for Sales Teams
Although Salesforce has diversified its product over the years to also focus on marketing and support, its core competency remains sales.
Some of the features we loved in the latest edition of Sales Cloud include:
Email to Salesforce
If logging into the CRM sounds like too much effort for busy sales representatives between meetings, Salesforce has extensive support for email-to-Salesforce. All representatives need to do in order to add correspondence to a record is to use a specific BCC address. Technology on the backend takes care of associating the communication with a preexisting lead, if one is found. This is a particularly valuable solution for sales professionals that are on the go and don't always have time to use a mobile app.
Salesforce comes with its own internal social network called Chatter. This internal collaboration tool, which resembles a social network with better file sharing capabilities, is a great way for widely distributed sales team to collaborate and coordinate approaches. Additionally, Chatter comes complete with a KPI display which quickly displays headline business metrics such as team or unit performance and average deal size.
Salesforce contains an extensive lookup and visualization system for evaluating current pipeline and segmenting it by teams or salespeople. The Salesforce Opportunity Management dashboard gives users a complete overview of current prospects, allowing them to filter by deal stage, competition, quotes provided, and more. What differs Salesforce from alternative providers is the granularity of the system. Where some CRMs provide a simple Kanban board for visualizing pipeline, Salesforce Opportunity Management allows users to create sophisticated searches — and export reports — based on limitless combinations of advanced search parameters.
Tools for Customer Support Teams
Salesforce Service Cloud offers customer support tools that can integrate with the rest of the CRM, including the sales component. Some of its outstanding features include:
Customer service agents can easily share a ticket received with non-support internal resources, such as subject matter experts and sales agents. Through sharing and receiving information more comprehensively, support agents can provide better and faster service to customers.
Tools for Marketing Teams
Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud allows the marketing team to personally engage with every customer in the CRM — irrespective of where the lead was captured from. The tool also contains an email template editor which can pull in fields from the entire customer record to help create mass communications with a personalized feel.
One standout feature of Salesforce’s marketing tools is its Journey Builder which connects the various touchpoints in a customer’s journey through the funnel in order to develop a Single Customer View (SCV). By collating particulars about a customer from various departments in the organization, marketers can make better decisions about how best to engage prospects.
Customizations and Integrations
Salesforce’s claim that it is the most customizable CRM on the market is more than empty words or marketing bluff.
The core of that customization can be found within the Salesforce App Cloud which contains a number of additions to expand upon Salesforce’s basic functionality. A vast amount of services can be easily integrated with Salesforce — ranging from discrete tools such as the Slack messaging system to entire business and productivity systems such as Google Cloud and the Zapier marketing automation toolkit.
In addition, Salesforce Lightning allows non-developers to build custom apps using a simple codeless drag-and-drop builder. This allows even companies without technical resources to develop their own apps to add needed extra functionality to their implementation.
Reporting and Dashboards
Salesforce offers an extensive suite of reporting and dashboard services that allow users and organizations to gain an overview into how their sales unit is performing. In addition to giving users the ability to generate and create basic reports, the reporting and dashboard area features:
- Configure filter logic to speed up tabulating and analyzing large report datasets.
- Customize reports according to the currency associated with the customer record. This is valuable for organizations with business units that use different currencies.
- Users can also set filter values by adding simple text parameters to the URL. This makes it easy to share reports with other users without having to worry that filters will be lost in the process.
Salesforce offers an enterprise-class mobile app for both Android and iOS. Additionally, Salesforce data can be accessed from the more than 4,000 apps that feature an integration with Salesforce through AppExchange.
Plans and Pricing
Salesforce offers separate pricing structures for a number of different products. The pricing for Sales Cloud — which gives access to the CRM’s sales functionalities only — is as follows:
Essential users have access to basic sales features, including account, lead, and opportunity management. Professional users can take advantage of the collaborative forecasting tool which allows groups of users to develop forecasts based on current lead pipeline. Enterprise users gain workflows and approval automations while Unlimited Users have access to 24/7 customer support and custom configuration services from the Salesforce team.
Ease of Implementation and Use
For those looking to simply get started using Salesforce, getting set up is as simple as registering for a free trial on the website, for which no credit card is required, and then choosing to switch to a billing cycle after the trial concludes. At a basic level, Salesforce is a simple CRM to use. Creating leads and updating records is as simple as it is with any CRM.
Unlike many CRMs, however, Salesforce can be extensively customized to suit the needs of enterprise businesses as well as those with operations—and leads—in multiple geographies and currencies. While Salesforce features a drag and drop app builder, users are also able to tweak functions by using markup developed by in-house development resources.
Salesforce has poured huge resources into providing some of the CRM industry’s best customer service. The team has a huge help website which features text and video tutorials intended to both explain the entire breadth of the CRM’s functionalities and help users that have run into difficulty.
Additionally, Salesforce operates customer support telephone numbers in multiple geographies and languages — making it easy for customers all over the world to receive support in their mother tongue and at an affordable rate.
Of course, Salesforce also offers both live agent chat support and a ticket-based system. Finally, because Salesforce is among the most widely used CRMs in the world, there is an enormous user community for those new to the tool to rely upon.
Salesforce consulting is also an entire industry in itself and users with needs that surpass what their internal teams can supply are able to reach out to full-time experts for help.
What Users Say About Salesforce
“With Salesforce, we can stay close to our customers as we continue to grow our business.”
Antii Koskelin, CIO, Kone
“We chose to go with Salesforce for its intelligence, its scale, and its ability to support our needs beyond just the basic CRM. We didn’t really know what direction the business would take, but we knew that if we implemented Salesforce, it would be able to help get us there. Salesforce was enterprise-ready.”
Ariel Kelman, Vice President for Worldwide Marketing, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
We’ve created a great system using Salesforce technology that allows our customers to report a first notice of loss.”
Jeff Dailey, Chief Executive Officer, Farmers Insurance.
Salesforce continues to roll out features that justify its reputation as the star of the CRM industry. Its various tools focus on interoperability and providing a single, integrated view of all customer activity. Additionally, its Einstein features bring the power of AI to help sales teams speed up the process of honing on the best leads. Whether used in the enterprise environment or by a small sales team hoping to move their technology beyond an Excel spreadsheet, it’s an excellent tool to have on hand.