Salesforce.com is one of a small number of vendors who offer a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) product for businesses of all sizes. The major differences in vendors and their products are in the implementation and features available to the customer.
Being a cloud-based product, Salesforce.com hosts the CRM software so you don’t have to. This means a reduced impact on your IT staff since there are no additional in-house computing resources needed. There is no need to purchase additional hardware to run the product. This is a Software as a Service (SaaS) product so all of the applications reside in the cloud and not on your in-house systems. The only local need is to create procedures to backup salesforce data in case you need to restore all or part of your system quickly.
Access to Salesforce.com is through a web browser. Any device that can use a browser can be used to get to and work with your CRM data. In-house systems limit access from local equipment or through complicated network schemes. Some cloud-based systems limit access only through a browser. Salesforce.com may be accessed through smartphones, tablets and numerous other mobile products allowing your sales and field service people to make better use of their time.
One advantage of a company that has been around as long as Salesforce.com is the number of people that have created helpful applications that allow you to integrated other functions into your CRM system. For instance, if you have a preferred email product that you want to continue to use, it likely can be integrated with Salesforce.com limiting the amount of new tools that your staff must learn.
Other third-party applications can use your Salesforce contact list to send newsletters or support marketing campaigns. Some CRM systems require you to extract that information before you use it, creating an extra step in your marketing program activities.
Developing unique applications within the Salesforce product can be as simple as defining new fields and layouts without requiring any programming knowledge. Extending other CRM systems can often require a full-scale software development project to make it happen. Being able to easily customize your CRM system is a big benefit to businesses with few technical resources.
Salesforce.com has many of the features that mature client server products have evolved over the years. Call center management, marketing automation, customer service support and tracking, partner marketing, salesforce automation, and business analytics and reporting are some of the capabilities in this system.
What makes the salesforce.com pricing model unique is that you only need to pay for the features you really need. There are several “editions” available, each containing a set of the overall features in the system. This means you can start gaining the benefit of some of the CRM capabilities quickly in your organization and add more as the company expands.
Other pricing options include a free trial and deep discounts for non-profit organizations.
Another sign of the Salesforce maturity is the ease of deployment in an organization. Taking the input of their customers, Salesforce.com has evolved the process into a much more intuitive one reducing the impact on your staff and getting you up and running on a CRM system quickly.
Customer Relationship Management systems can be very complicated. The ease of deployment combined with the free trial and flexible pricing model of Salesforce allows any business to dive into the CRM world and see how they can use it to grow and manage their company or organization.
About the Author:
Greg Rublev is a dedicated web products geek, blogger and the founder of LeanWagon, a startup helping dieters eat healthy and lose weight.