Salesforce Solutions for Businesses 101

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Bursting onto the scene in 1999, Salesforce quickly became one of America's leading software and cloud computing companies.

The Salesforce® platform allows companies to transfer most (if not all) of their customer relationship management needs to the cloud, allowing them to reduce on-site resource usage considerably. These services are easily accessed over the Internet through standard Web browsers, and Salesforce has continually expanded their suite of tools over the years to encompass everything from suggestion management to social performance management.

So, Really Break It Down For Me... What Exactly Does Salesforce Do?

Fundamentally, Salesforce provides online services that businesses subscribe to. It's a "software as a service" (SaaS) business model, similar to the way Microsoft now handles their Office products.

Salesforce is a CRM – customer relationship management tool.  The software allows you manage, track, and report on your lead and customer journeys from beginning to end.

Salesforce breaks down their pricing structure for most services to a monthly fee, but actually bills on an annual basis. The base price for Salesforce consulting services is relatively low, which is part of what makes them one of the most popular CRM solutions. But it is important to keep in mind that unless you have staff on hand who are well-versed in Salesforce software, it will cost extra to have experts actually implement the services on your company's end.

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If you're interested in Salesforce's offerings but aren't sure if they're the right fit for your business, there is a limited free version of their CRM software that you can play with. It's called the "developer edition," and it restricts you to only 10 MB of data and two users, making it unsuitable for all but the tiniest of businesses. But it does allow you to play around with creating things like billing systems, email campaigns, product lists and knowledge bases. You can experiment as much as you like and get a direct sense as to how well the Salesforce services will work for you.

So what are some concrete examples of tasks that companies commonly accomplish with Salesforce software? It's popular for creating a sales tracking solution that reports on the lead-to-opportunity sales cycle, implementing a customer service system, an external customer community, logging activity and implementing all sorts of different pre-made mobile apps. Salesforce training can require varying commitments of time depending on how many different features are in use, but it is generally regarded as an intuitive system.

An Overview of Salesforce Services

The overall CRM software is divided between several different .com addresses that each serve a specific function. The central hub is salesforce.com, from which companies perform both sales and customer service management. Customers can manage their own cases and tickets that they open through this interface as well as leave comments about the company via the major social media websites.

This main application splits off into several different subordinate sites. Salesforce integration features allow you to use these added sites seamlessly from your central interface. Due to the high level of use, Salesforce consulting services have developed to help businesses determine exactly what features they need and to get them all working together seamlessly.

Data.com® – This site is used for each company's internal records management, but it also contains a massive database of tens of millions of business contacts that all subscribers have access to.

Desk.com® – This site allows companies to move their online helpdesk systems to the cloud. Customers can make contact via email, social media, online chat or even Twitter. A support queue system is implemented along with analytics.

Force.com® – Force.com allows developers at each business to create their own custom add-on applications using a Java-like language called Apex.

Site.com™ – Site.com is somewhat like Force.com, but the focus is more on the updating and maintenance of created public-facing websites rather than coding new apps from scratch. In fact, there is a WYSIWYG interface so that coding is not necessary, though developers can use HTML, CSS and JavaScript if they choose to. The integration with Salesforce.com is not as robust as the custom Force.com apps can be, however.

Work.com™ – Work.com lets companies internally manage and support their workforce by way of both anonymous and formal real-time feedback, coaching and training.

Salesforce Extensions

On top of these applications, there are almost countless pre-made extensions that can be appended to your Salesforce platform. These are just a few of the most popular and useful to give you a sense of what is available:

Brisk - a functionality add-on, giving Web browser users a sidebar that condenses in many of the most commonly-used features of the Salesforce solution. These are generally found through AppExchange®, the internal app site that provides immediate Salesforce integration.

Chatter® - integrates with Force.com applications to add group collaboration features like feed tracking, public and private team creation and record keeping. Each user can also create their own social media-like profile.

Einstein Analytics not only analyzes Salesforce client data, but any type of third-party data can be added into the mix. It's a very powerful tool that basically allows you to dump in any data you want to, then filter and view it in any way that you want to.

Pardot - a business-to-business (B2B) marketing automation tool. Lead nurturing programs are automated down to email, social media and reporting.

Salesforce Extensions

The company first launched in 1999 when former Oracle executive Marc Benioff teamed up with Parker Harris, Dave Moellenhoff, and Frank Dominguez of Left Coast Software. The team started out by developing sales automation software.

Over the next decade and a half, the company grew to be one of the country's premier CRM service providers, racking up awards such as Forbes' "Most Innovative Company" each year from 2011 to 2014.

It's hard to get an exact count of total Salesforce users as the company does not release this information in their annual reports, but they have estimated that they provide services to over 100,000 different businesses.

 

Salesforce Solutions: The CRM of Choice

With an estimated 50 million transactions each day, Salesforce is about as popular and commonly used as a CRM platform gets. Intuitive navigation, robust social integration and a very high degree of customization are the main reasons the company has experienced such impressive success. While it's far from the only CRM solution out there, it's the one that you are most likely to run into, and Salesforce training is therefore worth at least having some level of familiarity with.

The Salesforce certified consultants at Ad Victoriam Solutions are experts in harnessing cloud computing and enterprise technology to work for businesses. Technology should work for you, not the other way around. Consider partnering with Ad Victoriam to learn about maximizing the ROI of your Salesforce investment.

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