Year after year, my goal in attending Dreamforce is simply to keep up on their latest developments. How does the ever-growing power of Salesforce help keep data organized for the effectiveness and sanity of their users? How can Salesforce keep customers and clients at the center? As always, I was wowed on developments and function. But my usual thought occurred to me: “You’d have to invest so much money to take advantage of all these features.”
This year, it was different. Those “too much, too big” thoughts were mitigated. I was most impressed by consistently seeing simplicity and affordability come into play. Both are especially crucial for small business and nonprofits to be willing to use it and be successful in doing so. More than ever, Salesforce felt within easy reach for smaller organizations.
Why Non-Enterprises Might Consider Salesforce Now
It's more affordable than ever for small businesses. Salesforce now offers five licenses for $25! I helped implement Salesforce for a startup in 2013, and we paid $65 per month for one license.
That price tag opens the door for many businesses who need a basic CRM tool. They have a way to amalgamate their lead and customer data and track their stage in the funnel. Nonprofits can take advantage of Salesforce providing 10 free licenses.
2. User Experience
In the past, I would have used the word "cumbersome" to describe the Salesforce user interface -- how it looked and how to customize it.
Now, the Lightning interface is taking effect across the platform. The experience of using Salesforce is cleaner, more modern, and more logical. It helps simplify the user experience.
My first experience using Salesforce involved a lot of troubleshooting and calls to customer service. That complexity kept many small organizations away.
An easy (and cute) set of paths called Trailhead is now fully implemented to allow one to quickly learn enough about Salesforce to get started.
I’m not a fan of the whole tie-in of Salesforce training to our national parks. But I have to admit, the theme appears to make training easier to understand and more fun. That’s the goal -- to get newbies started.
4. Plug and Play Apps
Using the basic Salesforce, or any CRM, will help businesses be miles-more effective than trying to manage their businesses and progress in spreadsheet land. But some of the greatest opportunities lie in the zillions of apps available to customize and simplify the system for your specific needs.
While there are so many examples, one that caught my eye was for event management. Most nonprofits need to put on events to generate awareness and funds for their cause. Every dollar saved in development helps. Using this app with a free nonprofit license would beat web development fees easily.
There are third-party apps as well. We all know that without accurate and current data, the fancy system isn’t worth anything. Several apps aim to help the users work with the system, putting them, rather than the interface, top of mind.
For example, Walk Me is an app that can be applied to Salesforce and other platforms to “accelerate user adoption.” It allows you to customize the queries to input data in the frame of questions the salesperson can quickly answer, and to utilize a channel, such as text, to respond. Think of an automated text exchange that pops the data into appropriate fields, or a pop-up window that prioritizes the most important fields and asks for them in a more conversational way.
5. 360° View of a Customer
I wouldn’t be a marketer if I didn’t get excited about these developments. With the integration of Google Analytics 360, acquisition of Dataroma and development of Customer 360, Salesforce is well on the road to making a single customer view of all your organization’s touches come to life. Even small organizations have a number of data silos, and a few years from now, you’re likely to wish you took the first steps now to integrate them.
In summary, yes, Salesforce is the whole enchilada. As such, it can, on the surface, appear completely overwhelming. If Salesforce can do national parks, I can continue with my cooking analogy. Just start with a basic recipe and a few ingredients and you’ll be cooking. To be clear: if you're a smaller organization, start by getting your data into a CRM and get users accustomed to it. Then, bring in other features when they're within your reach.