Salesforce, Explained

You may have heard colleagues discuss the term Salesforce and not entirely understand what the program offers or what it means. But it can revolutionize the way an office manages its customer outreach and lead management. 

What is Salesforce?

Salesforce is a customer-relationship management tool (CRM) that aids organizations in strengthening their business development. It’s a customizable platform that allows teams to organize their prospects in one central location. 

It provides teams with the following capabilities:  

  • Keep a record of all past sales, along with critical buyer info
  • Hold data on all prospective leads
  • Track emails sent
  • Maintain a log of calls placed
  • Connect with other programs to migrate customer data into Salesforce
  • Send automated, scheduled emails on your behalf 
  • Segment your audience to provide more specified categorizations of your customer base for more targeted outreach

Overall, Salesforce is a program that helps you organize your business prospects so that you can categorize and contact them quickly and efficiently. It lets your contacts work harder for you. 

Who is Salesforce for?

Salesforce is a terrific tool for companies looking to grow their business. By organizing your contacts and letting you keep a record of your correspondence with them across multiple platforms, it makes it easier to push leads to closure as well as retain past customers for future business. You’re able to easily access the lifecycle of your history with a customer, therefore making it a great tool for companies looking to more closely evaluate how they interact with their customers. 

If you’re looking to analyze your customers, put yourself in a position to gain new customers, and grow your business in general, Salesforce is a great platform for you. 

Who isn’t Salesforce for?

If a company isn’t willing to invest in infrastructure to support growing their business, Salesforce may not be the platform for them. 

Additionally, teams that are less mature in their development – disparate teams using multiple CRM tools who aren’t looking to migrate to the same platform – may have difficulty with Salesforce. There needs to be a concerted effort, company-wide, to migrate to Salesforce as a CRM and data management tool. Otherwise, it’s much less effective because there may be large gaps in data. 

How much does Salesforce cost?

The cost of Salesforce really depends on the size of your team. Plans can range from $25 to $300 a month, depending on the size of your contact list, level of customization needed, and what features you need. 

Salesforce Alternatives

Other CRM platforms can help you manage your customer relationship, including: 

  • HubSpot CRM
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Act! CRM

You should note, however, that there is no single program that can do everything Salesforce is capable of. No other CRM seamlessly integrates so many functions into one place. You can also look for alternative email platforms like MailChimp to manage your mailing lists, but again, Salesforce provides you with this capability as well as the additional capabilities afforded by the other CRMs.  

Pros of Salesforce

There are multiple advantages to opting for Salesforce.

  • Scalability. Salesforce is a great tool for companies of various sizes. If you’re a small business, Salesforce can track a small number of customers and still provide valuable data on them. Large companies can also get value out of using Salesforce, however, as it can accommodate a much larger customer base as well. 
  • It’s comprehensive. As far as CRM tools go, Salesforce is the most comprehensive. It has the most capabilities of any CRM. 
  • It makes staff turnover easier. Once you’ve migrated your entire company’s contact data to Salesforce, it makes turnover a lot easier. If a staff member leaves, making way for a new team member, there’s no need to transfer data to them. All institutional knowledge is included in the tool. Staff transitions are never easy, but with Salesforce you ensure there will be no gap in the knowledge transfer. 
  • Flexibility in usage. Multiple types of teams within your organization can find value in using Salesforce. For your marketing department, it’s an invaluable resource for increasing and improving your outreach to new customers. For the sales team, it’s the perfect tool for managing leads. You can keep tabs on your contact history with each lead as well as determine what you need to do to close the sale.  

Cons of Salesforce

While it’s an incredibly useful tool, Salesforce can also have some drawbacks as well. Depending on the makeup, style, or maturity of your team, the value you receive out of its use may vary. Consider a few issues you may run into when choosing Salesforce as your CRM: 

  • Customization requires assistance. If you don’t have an in-house developer or IT expert, you may need to bring in a developer to help you customize the tool to your organization’s liking. 
  • It can be expensive for larger teams. Salesforce can be expensive for larger teams that need multiple licenses for all of their staff to use the product.  
  • Learning curve. When you first integrate Salesforce into your team’s operations, there may be a lag in when team members begin training and when they’re proficient in the use of the tool. It can take time for your team to learn the ins and outs of the system. 
  • Must get everyone to buy-in. If your team previously used separate CRM tools depending on the department, it may be difficult to get everyone within the company to buy-in and use it. Comprehensive adoption across all departments is typically critical for finding success using the tool. Otherwise, your data migration may include incomplete data. Incomplete data can lead to dropped leads or failure to retain past customers. 

Salesforce Integrations 

Salesforce can be integrated with multiple platforms, underlining its versatility as a CRM. Three examples of Salesforce’s ability to integrate with other platforms include: 

  • HubSpot. This integration allows you to keep your marketing and sales data aligned. 
  • SharePoint. Spreadsheets and databases included on your SharePoint site can be integrated into your CRM. Various other types of data stored in SharePoint can also be integrated with Salesforce as well. 
  • Your website. You will be able to link contact forms from your website so you can automatically populate leads in Salesforce. With your website serving as your virtual business card, this integration establishes a direct line between where you meet customers online and how you get in touch with them later.