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Benefits and Insights

Why use Salesforce?

Key differentiators & advantages of Salesforce

  • Customize to Fit Needs: Tailor each product according to business requirements and plug in any of the dozen solutions to create a custom-made ecosystem. 
  • Intuitive Interface: Easily navigate the user-friendly UI, making it easier to organize data, manage customers, run reports, stay on top of conversations, locate information and email customers. 
  • Integrate Tools: Connect to a vast array of popular products to keep using favorite apps without complicated workarounds. Install hundreds of third-party tools in a couple clicks in every category from IT and finance to project management and ERP. 
  • Run Reports on Metrics: Gain a 360-degree view into business performance with a multitude of standard and customized real-time reports. Create joined reports for viewing data several different ways. 
  • Easily Track Information: Leverage up-to-date information at each touchpoint with customers. Easily check what stage every prospect is in, improve data visibility and view records of how people have interacted. 
  • Reduce Screen Switching: Users from across teams can work on a single UI rather than wasting time hopping among several applications. 
  • Improve Productivity: Save time and enable focus on more strategic work by automating many tedious tasks. Database updates are smooth and seamless as well. 
  • Stay Organized: Gain a single source of truth using a central solution to store customer information. Pull sales reports, view customer tickets, track a lead’s progress through the pipeline and more from the same place. 
  • Deliver Customer Service: Deliver on customer expectations by providing customer service no matter how someone chooses to interact. 
  • Scale Based on Business Needs: Easily scale up as business grows, using Salesforce's integrated nature to add capabilities that work seamlessly rather than patching together a number of point solutions. 
  • Product Enhancements: New features are implemented based on feedback, continually enhancing functionality to better serve customers. 
  • Work Anywhere: Improve productivity while on the go with a mobile app for Android and iOS. It offers collaboration tools, real-time dashboards, meetings, tasks, notifications, sales stage views, lead tracking, document editing and more. 
  • Add Extensions: Work more effectively using Chrome extensions. Perform activities directly from Gmail, access a features library, view data fields, and import and export records. 
  • Gather Feedback: Use surveys to capture internal and external sentiment to understand how to better support employees and better serve customers. 
  • Maintain a Secure Environment: Control access via two-step authentication along with robust customizations that accommodate any type of security permissions that need to be configured. 
  • Unify Brand Across Communities: Maintain a consistent brand online by adding company branding to apps and Lightning Communities developed internally. List apps in the Apple App and Google Play stores. 
  • Support a Partner Community: Simplify channel management with a complete toolset to onboard partners, automate channel marketing and sales, view analytics, and provide customer service. The partner relationship management solution comes with two turnkey offerings — pre-built templates in Sales Cloud and Lightning Bolt configurations based on industry. 

Industry Expertise

Salesforce is used by more than 150,000 companies around the world, ranging from small businesses to global enterprises. It’s suitable for organizations in any industry, such as consumer goods, communications, media, manufacturing, retail, government, healthcare and life sciences.

For nonprofits or education institutions looking for a CRM, Salesforce.org offers products that encompass the unique needs faced by those in the nonprofit, higher education, K-12 education and philanthropy fields.

Overview of Products & Features

Salesforce is a massive solution. In fact, the Salesforce.com platform consists of 12 individual products, each of which can be deployed as standalone solutions. In this section, we’ll cover nine prominent applications to help you understand what you’d be getting with each.


Sales Cloud

The primary components are:

  • Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ)
  • Sales performance management (SPM)
  • An AI add-on (Einstein Analytics), which costs extra
The CPQ module is a complete quote-to-cash application that supports the full billing process. It offers a configuration tool for companies that sell configurable products. You can generate proposals and quotes, streamline the approval process, automate renewals, and incorporate upsell and cross-sell opportunities. There’s also a quoting tool you can use to create branded quotes with a single click.

With sales performance management, you gain a complete view of performance across individual reps and teams. It includes things such as forecasting, performance evaluation, quotas, goal setting, commissions and more.

Adding Einstein will give your reps the analytics tools needed to improve and streamline their selling. Here are some of the features specific to Sales Cloud:

  • Lead scoring
  • Opportunity insights
  • Account insights
  • Forecasting
  • Automatic activity capture
  • Inbox
  • Sales analytics

Service Cloud

This product is an all-in-one customer service platform. It has tools for managing every interaction, whether in the office or out in the field. And it’s poised to gain even deeper capabilities, thanks to Salesforce’s acquisition of ClickSoftware in August 2019.

Field Service Lightning, one of the main elements of Service Cloud, was designed for companies with mobile workforces. It provides on-the-go access to customer info, optimal routes, data from IoT devices, visibility into mobile workforce operations, automated scheduling for appointments and more.

In addition to Field Service Lightning, Service Cloud brings a lot of other features to the table. Let’s take a look.

  • Centralized console where agents can view all relevant case information
  • Case management
  • Knowledge management (including a knowledgebase)
  • Service process automation
  • Omni-channel routing
  • Service analytics (via Einstein Analytics)
  • Multi-channel support (Facebook Messenger, SMS text, etc.)
  • Customizable customer self-service portal and help center
  • Einstein Bots (chatbots that can automate common service interactions)
  • Ticketing system
  • Call center scripts
  • Workflows and automation

Marketing Cloud

With Marketing Cloud, you gain access to a fully comprehensive marketing platform. Key features include:

Audience Studio. This is Salesforce’s data management platform (DMP). It enables you to gather customer data from which you can create audience segments, and this toolset provides insights so you can better understand your target audience’s journey, touchpoints and data signals. You can also manage customer consent when it comes to use of their data, as well as automate compliance.

Pardot. If you need B2B marketing automation, this is the feature for you. Its suite includes email automation and campaigns, prospect activity data, real-time alerts, landing pages, lifecycle reporting, and event-based triggers. Pardot supports integrating SEO and SEM programs as well.

Journey Studio. This campaign management feature allows you to build customer journeys across any channel. You can map out journeys visually, analyze and report on data, and build branded content and journeys for extended teams like franchisees or international offices.

Email Studio. With this feature, you can build extensive campaigns or hone in on 1-to-1 messaging. It lets you segment contacts, automate tasks like data import and filtering, and deliver personalized content. Email templates and drag-and-drop tools make tasks fast and easy.

Mobile Studio. You can support interactions across SMS, MMS, chat and push notifications. It also supports mobile campaigns, including geofenced messages.

Social Studio. This feature lets you manage social media marketing — monitor interactions on your channels, publish content, conduct customer service and keep track of information via central dashboards.

Advertising Studio. Here, you can manage all your advertising campaigns. It works with other tools like Pardot, Journey Builder and Sales Cloud for a coordinated effort.

Datorama. Applicable to both B2B and B2C, this feature provides insights on your marketing data. Elements include AI, automation, API integrations, reporting tools, KPI tracking, customizable dashboards and sharing.

Interaction Studio. This interaction management tool allows you to track every interaction your audience has with your company, in real time. You can also orchestrate engagements across channels and awareness stages. Interaction Studio spans both digital and offline channels, and it offers user-friendly configurations.

Data Studio. This interaction management tool allows you to track every interaction your audience has with your company, in real time. You can also orchestrate engagements across channels and awareness stages. Interaction Studio spans both digital and offline channels, and it offers user-friendly configurations.

Google Analytics 360. Integration lets you bring Google Analytics 360 into Marketing Cloud. Features include Tag Manager 360, team workspaces, Optimize 360 and tests (A/B, multivariate, etc.).

Commerce Cloud

Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud supports companies in B2B and B2C environments. Here’s how:

The B2B module incorporates buying recommendations, guided experiences, self-service buying and branded partner sites. It also offers tools specific to B2B selling, such as contract pricing, account hierarchies and custom catalogs. And it supports specific industries such as consumer packaged goods, manufacturing and even B2B2C. You can integrate data from other business systems such as ERP and provide self-service tools to customers.

On the B2C side, functionality includes mobile commerce, SEO optimization, page building, storefront creation and extensions like loyalty programs. You can use Einstein Analytics for things like search and product recommendations, shopping basket analysis, and predictive sorting of categories so each shopper has a customized experience. The B2C module also aids global business with multi-language support.

Another main feature of Commerce Cloud is Lightning Order Management, a full-fledged order management system. You can:

  • Manage workflows visually
  • Create code-free automations
  • Integrate apps for warehouse management and other areas
  • Fulfill orders
  • Provide service reps with a central tool for handling issues like cancellations or returns
Finally, Commerce Cloud brings digital support into physical stores with its Endless Aisle feature. It includes mobile apps for store staff, real-time inventory, and a 360-degree view of customers across digital and in-person mediums.

Heroku

Heroku is an engagement platform that allows you to build custom cloud apps so your brand can deliver better experiences for customers. It lets you:

  • Offload intensive tasks from Salesforce for better system performance
  • Use open-source programming languages to create scalable apps that sync relevant data from Salesforce
  • Create an ecosystem where data flows easily between business systems and apps, such as Heroku and a legacy system
  • Sync data bi-directionally between Heroku and Salesforce

Lightning Platform

Salesforce’s Lightning Platform, also known as Lightning Experience or LEX, is an application for designing apps.

It has extensive flexibility that caters to users of all technical levels. You can create apps without using code, thanks to pre-built components, plug-and-play features and a drag-and-drop builder. Or you can take advantage of professional-grade coding tools, including an open development environment, for more complex projects that require programming expertise.

The Lightning Platform also enables you to create apps from spreadsheets in a couple clicks and supports the creation of mobile apps.

MuleSoft Anypoint Platform

MuleSoft is the primary integration tool used in the Salesforce ecosystem. It supports processes within a range of other products (e.g., Heroku) and lets you accomplish a wide variety of integrations with Salesforce. You can connect with systems like Oracle and SAP via the hybrid platform, which supports both cloud and on-premise deployments.

Features include:

  • Reusable components such as templates and API designs
  • Design center
  • Security configurations
  • Customizable dashboards that let you manage SLAs, transactions and other critical elements of your integrations

Einstein Analytics

Einstein Analytics is a no-code AI tool that delivers business intelligence data to users. As a standalone product, it requires separate purchase from other products such as Sales Cloud. However, Einstein is part of the tightly integrated Salesforce platform, so it can be easily plugged into other products.

Einstein enables you to uncover data insights within Salesforce and uses visual tools like dashboards to make information easy to understand. It does this across all business systems, even those external to Salesforce, providing you with a single, centralized location for data analysis.

Here are some of Einstein’s capabilities:

  • Connectors for database services, warehouse, enterprise applications and more
  • Self-contained ETL
  • Prescriptive and predictive analytics
  • An app designer
  • Pre-built templates
  • Notifications and alerts
  • Integration with workflow automation
  • Mobile-friendly design
As mentioned, you can build dashboards, templates and other elements without code. This eliminates the need for IT help and simplifies the build process for quicker deployment.

Chatter

Chatter is a collaboration solution that enables you to create a robust company social network. With it, users can easily share documents and connect with subject matter experts within the organization.

Here are some of the things you can do with Chatter:

  • Store files in a secure, central repository
  • Enhance collaboration across teams and projects
  • Take your work anywhere with the mobile app
  • Handle internal activities such as submitting support cases
  • Build groups
  • Keep track of information in social feeds
This helps you accomplish project management tasks more effectively. Chatter use cases range from customer service to sales.

Drawbacks: Is the System Right for You?

Salesforce has a massive customer base and is the industry standard for CRM. However, it’s not for everyone and has limits for certain users. If you’ve done any research on it, you’re probably familiar with the dynamic that some people love it and some people loathe it.

Let’s go over some of the main issues people run into when using Salesforce.

Price

As you’d expect, such a robust system comes with a hefty price tag — especially if you have a large number of users or deploy multiple modules. For many businesses, it’s difficult to justify the cost.

Mega companies may find the ROI worth the steep prices, but small businesses often can’t afford the hit to their budget. Salesforce does offer pricing plans specifically for SMBs, so if you’re a small business, you may want to investigate. But know that even the lightweight options won’t come cheap.

Complexity

One of the things that make people sing Salesforce’s praise — its limitless customization — also happens to be an Achilles heel depending on who you ask.

Yes, you can customize and configure pretty much anything you want. But with that great power comes great complexity.

Unless you’re technically savvy or have an IT specialist on hand who can handle the job, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. And often, hiring a Salesforce developer is necessary for more complicated customizations.

If you’re considering Salesforce for your company, ask yourself how much customization you need and if that level of complexity will be worth the time and effort involved.

Learning Curve

Because Salesforce is so complex, there’s a steep learning curve involved, especially for non-technical users. With so many options, it’s easy to get lost and confused. This can result in spending more time figuring out the platform and less time being productive.

While we cited ease of use as a top benefit of using Salesforce, many users find that navigating the interface is difficult.

Salesforce provides robust training via its Trailhead e-learning program, but even so, learning everything there is to know about the system can be tedious and take a long time. If you want a platform that isn’t hard to get accustomed to, you may want to look elsewhere.

Implementation

Due to the complex nature of the platform, implementation help is often required in order to ensure the system is set up correctly. This can drive up the cost, and it removes the ability to get started using the system as quickly as with other CRMs.

Salesforce Lightning

There’s quite a divide over this aspect of the system. We’ve already covered what the Lightning Platform can do. But beneath the surface, many users find problems with it.

The main issue cited is poor speed (slow loading, unresponsive pages, etc.). Lightning, in contrast to its name, isn’t nearly as fast as the Salesforce Classic UI for a lot of customers. Salesforce has acknowledged the problems and is working on fixes, but the potential impact until the bugs are cleared up is something to consider for your company.

The CRM Leader, But Not the Only Choice

Salesforce is the most dominant CRM in the market, as confirmed by a Gartner report published in June 2019. It holds nearly 20% of the market share, more than double that of the next closest vendor, SAP, and was ranked the top CRM for the 6th year in a row.

This dominance shouldn’t come as a surprise. But that doesn’t mean Salesforce is the lone player. The CRM industry as a whole is booming. You don’t have to look far to find a host of solid alternatives to Salesforce. (Check out the relevant articles in the right sidebar for additional resources on this topic.)

In other noteworthy news, Salesforce acquired business intelligence vendor Tableau in a massive deal in June 2019. While analysts were split on whether the acquisition was a smart move, the fact remains that Salesforce is clearly seeking to strengthen its BI capabilities.

Our article Salesforce Acquires Tableau for $15.7 Billion: What It Means for Software Buyers, covers this topic in-depth if you want to understand how it might affect you.

Suite Support

Extended services such as developer support and access to a success manager are only available with a Premier or Premier Plus plan. Adoption and Advisory services are also offered and include one-on-one coaching and technical guidance.

mail_outlineEmail: Not mentioned. Contact support by logging in to an account.
phonePhone: Available for Premier and Premier Plus members.
schoolTraining: Content and courses primarily delivered via the Trailhead program and its affiliated user community. Training formats include self-paced eLearning as well as live workshops and classes. Certifications are available, as well as training to become a Salesforce Administrator. An extensive knowledge base, technical documentation and admin resources also offered.
local_offerTickets: Create, submit and track from the account’s Help and Training section. The website has a Known Issues area.

Salesforce Reviews

Average customer reviews & user sentiment summary:

28305 reviews

86%

of users would recommend this product

Synopsis of User Ratings and Reviews

Based on an aggregate of reviews taken from the sources above, the following pros & cons have been curated by a SelectHub Market Analyst.

Pros

  • Highly Customizable: The level of personalization is helpful for managing tasks, report 60% of users who reviewed customizations.
  • Accurate Data and Analytics: The system offers a catalog for data and analytics and categorizes tasks using performance metrics, a key benefit according to 80% of reviews on analytics.
  • Intuitive AI: All users mentioning AI indicate it’s very intuitive and helps drive team productivity.
  • User-Friendly: The software is easy to use and doesn't require technical knowledge, making it easy to adapt to, say 61% of reviews on usability.
  • Communication Tools: Automatic call recording, customization, automation, and records of emails and calls improve customer communication, as 65% of users referencing this feature suggest.
  • Mobile App: With easy functionality, the app grants access to files and data anytime, anywhere, a useful feature in the view of all users who mention it.

Cons

  • Clunky and Slow: The software is heavy on the network and takes time to install, with 80% of reviews on the matter suggesting it’s best not run on mobile network connectivity to avoid poor speed.
  • Outdated UI: The UI and interactiveness of the application is outdated and needs an upgrade, according to 61% of users reviewing this feature.
  • Weak Automation: The marketing automation feature doesn't allow users to generate suggestions and implement organizational conversations, leading to difficult functionality according to 66% of users referencing automation.
  • Too Many Features: The system offers robust features that aren’t always useful, and 60% of reviews on this topic suggest they found some additional features complex to use and unnecessary for their needs.

Researcher's Summary:

As the undeniable powerhouse in the CRM space, Salesforce offers a suite of products with vast capabilities to enhance organizational performance and drive business growth. Its AI capabilities, level of customization available and mobile app to deliver flexible access are among its most cited benefits. Users also call out its data analytics and communication features, which enable optimal performance and better connection with customers.

Some limitations include slow performance, high price and missing automation features. Due to its size, it suffers from an overload of features that many find overwhelming, confusing and a distraction from core functionality they need. Users also find it difficult to navigate in many cases. Most smaller companies that don’t require a host of features and desire a more straightforward experience should look at alternatives. It’s best for businesses that need end-to-end, advanced capabilities for complex business operations and that have the technical resources and budget to use the system to its fullest.

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