What is Salesforce.com?

Known mainly as the world's leading CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, Salesforce.com is a very versatile and configurable cloud business platform with an unfortunate name. It was "born in the cloud" and its vast toolkit continues to be optimised for organisations of all types.

 

The platform started life to help sales teams, but has kept evolving into an open and mature cloud platform for all.

Salesforce.com strengths & things you maybe didn't know

  • The core Salesforce platform is a configurable cloud database with a very extensive range of tools in the toolkit. With every Salesforce instance, you therefore have a very large Lego set to build what you need (apps, pages, fields, rules, workflows, notifications etc)

  • The core platform is complemented by the Salesforce AppExchange, where pre-built apps and components can be downloaded and used in your solution. Apps can be small or large, with or without license costs. Non-profit organisations can use the very large "Non Profit Success Pack" app, offering a wide range of functionality such as volunteer and donation management.  Other apps such as "Events" by Salesforce Labs offers pre-build functionality for managing various types of events and their registrations.

  • It's very quick to get up and running. The 80/20 rule generally applies throughout. You can get 80% of what you need done in 20% of the time. If you are prepared to keep repeating that cycle, you can achieve a great deal in a short space of time.

  • It simply works. Salesforce place a relatively large proportion of your license fees towards ensuring that their platform is robust and available. See https://trust.salesforce.com/en/

  • Not all Salesforce editions and licenses are the same. Salesforce do like to push their Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud and various other products. These are available at the headline license costs often advertised. However you may not require such specific functionality and instead just need something more basic. Salesforce offers a range of Editions and license types, which can be very confusing to those that are not immersed in how Salesforce works. See pricing options for Small Businesses.

  • All registered Scottish Charities qualify for a generous donation of 10 free perpetual licenses from Salesforce.org. Thereafter, most additional licenses, if needed, are very significantly discounted. Qualifying Social Enterprises don't receive donated licenses but do receive the discounts on licenses. See the Salesforce.org eligibility guidelines.  

  • Trailhead is the online learning platform for Salesforce. It's free to use, modular in nature and very user-friendly.

Salesforce.com - things to look out for

  • You can sometimes be encouraged to bite off more than your organisation can chew. You don't always need all the bells and whistles, at least not from day 1. Best to start small, keep moving forward and upgrading as you go. 

  • There are usually several different ways to do the same thing. Many of the platform's tools make configuration changes temptingly very quick and easy. However they might not be the best approach. It's always best to bounce your requirements off someone who has done it different ways for different organisations.

  • You might need additional apps, sometimes at additional cost. Depending on your edition of Salesforce and what you need to do, sometimes it simply isn't possible with the core toolkit. An example might be allowing customers you have emailed to book a place at an event you are hosting. There are many different ways to achieve this, either integrating directly or via platforms such as Eventbrite, but no single standard solution that is always used.

  • As with any system, user adoption and data quality will be your greatest challenges. No matter how good your solution, if you don't plan in a strategy to track this, you will have issues with the content of your reports and dashboards. The Salesforce toolkit offers many features to help, but ultimately the organisational culture needs to be ready. See our checklist for more on this.

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