Assessing Salesforce as a Private Equity CRM: Pros and Cons

January 30, 2024
11 min

Many private equity firms are still running on either spreadsheets or proprietary systems that often do not resemble anything that looks like traditional CRM. While many firms are not happy about their private equity software, it is difficult to make the crucial move away from the system since there are not many private equity CRM solutions built specifically to model the eccentricities of the fund business.

We do think though that Salesforce can serve as a great private equity CRM system, notable for its adaptability and significant customization capabilities catering to the distinct requirements of private equity firms. Its ability to integrate with various applications and data platforms further bolsters its effectiveness in handling deal management and maintaining investor relations.

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Why Choose Salesforce as Your CRM for Private Equity

People used to think that private equity was basically just a compensation scheme, but it is much more about making companies more efficient.

David Rubenstein, Co-founder and Co-chairman of The Carlyle Group

Salesforce, holding the top position in the CRM market for a decade, has become the preferred choice for private equity and venture capital firms, thanks to its expansive ecosystem of products. Investors favor Salesforce for its unparalleled customization, robust security, and seamless integration with over 4,500 applications, satisfying the diverse needs of its 150,000 customers.

For private equity fund managers, Salesforce proves essential, streamlining fundraising and portfolio management, and offering a competitive advantage. The platform’s comprehensive features, combined with its adaptability, provide fund managers with the tools they need to create bespoke solutions for their specific requirements.

How Private Equity Investors Can Benefit from Salesforce CRM Ascendix

How Private Equity Investors Can Benefit from Salesforce CRM | Ascendix


How Salesforce Can Help Private Equity Investors

The core Salesforce product – Sales Cloud – helps private equity firms:

  • Centralize Investor Data: Maintain a single source of truth for all investor contact information, preferences, and communication history.
  • Manage Deal Pipeline: Salesforce streamlines the management of a private equity firm’s deal pipeline. It assists in monitoring potential acquisitions, assessing targets, and overseeing due diligence. Furthermore, Salesforce supports deal discovery by analyzing industry trends and pinpointing prospective opportunities. It provides visibility into the status of various potential deals and ongoing investments.
  • Automate Workflows: This CRM system streamlines processes like deal screening and approvals. It simplifies and expedites the fundraising process, aiding in successful capital raising.
  • Manage Investor Communication: Automate regular communications with investors, including updates on fund performance and new opportunities.
  • Improve Collaboration: Facilitate communication among team members involved in each deal stage via Chatter (built-in communication tool).
  • Track Activities: Salesforce aids in orchestrating fundraising activities, from monitoring potential investor leads to managing campaigns and evaluating fundraising analytics. It helps monitor investor queries and requests to ensure prompt and accurate responses and record all touchpoints with potential targets, intermediaries, and advisors.
  • Generate Accurate Reports: With robust reporting and analytical tools, Salesforce empowers private equity firms to track KPIs and generate detailed reports on investment performance, deal sourcing, fundraising activities, and other crucial metrics for strategic decision-making.
  • Consolidate Systems and Create a Common Database: Salesforce allows connecting all necessary tools like Pitchbook and Preqin and building a single pool of data to nourish all these systems and enhance deal sourcing and due diligence processes.



Additionally, with other Salesforce products, you can:

  • Streamline and personalize email communication with partners, customers, and investors via email automation tool – Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (Pardot)
  • Grow financial institutions with marketing automation, delivering personalized experiences across channels using Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
  • Enhance investor relations by offering superior customer service, managing inquiries and requests efficiently, and maintaining a detailed history of interactions and preferences for tailored communications and services with Salesforce Service Cloud.
  • Facilitate analysis of vast amounts of due diligence investor data to make more informed decisions with CRM Analytics.
  • Ensure operational transparency and trust and provide investors with a portal via Experience Cloud for direct access to their investment information, contributing to a relationship built on transparency and trust.

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However, to fully leverage Salesforce products for the private equity sector, customization is key. The platform’s standard setup is designed for typical sales tasks like lead and case management, which don’t match the distinct processes of private equity and venture capital firms.

Therefore, tailoring Salesforce is essential to meet the fund management’s unique requirements. To address the specific needs of the private equity sector, let’s evaluate the standard Salesforce solution against a customized version, focusing on which functions require enhancement.

An Out-of-the-Box Salesforce Solution vs. A Custom-Built Salesforce for Private Equity

Private equity firms juggle various functions such as fundraising, deal tracking, and portfolio management. Salesforce optimizes these through customized views and reports for enhanced user efficiency. Below is a comparison of how different Salesforce iterations serve private equity requirements.

An Out-of-the-Box vs. A Custom-Built Salesforce Solution for Private Equity

Out-Of-The-Box Salesforce Solution
Customized Salesforce Solution for Private Equity Firms
Target Users
General, not industry-specificPrivate equity and venture capital fund managers
Industry Relevance
Low for fund managers because it includes irrelevant featuresHas the highest relevance because it is fully customized to investor needs
Flexibility and Customization
Limited; it has only standard featuresHigh; it is fully customizable to specific private equity needs
Support and Maintenance
Standard Salesforce supportRequires specialized user-driven support and maintenance
Ease of Use
Simple for basic needsIt requires deeper understanding of the system design and workflows
Recommended for
General users with standard CRM needs Private equity investors needing highly tailored solutions for complex portfolios
Less cost-effective for fund managersHigh initial costs but more cost-effective in the long run
Implementation Difficulty
LowHigh; It requires deep technical and industry knowledge
Data Organization and Management
Generic; not tailored to fund managementFully tailored to the private equity model and data needs
Comparison of An Out-of-the-Box vs. A Custom-Built Salesforce for Private Equity


Standard Salesforce Solution Pros & Cons

Standard Salesforce functionality offers private equity firms robust contact management, deal flow tracking, and analytics, providing a solid foundation for managing relationships and analyzing investment opportunities efficiently.

Salesforce Out-of-the-Box Solution Pros:

  • General Applicability: Out-of-the-box Salesforce is suitable for basic CRM needs and is ideal for general users.
  • Operational Efficiency & 24/7 Access: It provides ubiquitous access to CRM data via any Internet-connected device, allowing investment managers and partners to access vital information at any time.
  • Mobility & Paperless Environment: Standard Salesforce supports a transition to a paperless workplace and ensures CRM information is accessible on both PC and mobile devices, designed for mobile rather than adapted to it.
  • Ease of Use: Simplicity in usage for standard features.
  • Seamless Integration with Marketing Tools: It integrates email marketing tools like Pardot and Mailchimp with Salesforce for the timely distribution of news, deal announcements, and generating proprietary leads.
  • Cross-Functional Transparency: Ensures transparency among cross-functional teams by providing timely data on interactions and potential deals, enabling informed research and analysis.
  • Collaboration and Note-Logging: Facilitates team collaboration by providing tools for real-time note-logging and information retrieval on stakeholder interactions.
  • Integration Capabilities: Salesforce can integrate with a multitude of other systems and tools, which is beneficial for firms that use various software solutions for different operations.
  • Security: As a leading platform, Salesforce has strong security protocols in place to protect sensitive investment and investor data.
  • Real-Time Performance Reporting: Allows for real-time reporting on deal generation, quality of referrals, and status of key accounts, fostering discipline and accountability within the team.

Salesforce Out-of-the-Box Solution Cons:

  • Generic Configuration: Standard configurations are tailored more towards sales-oriented businesses, not the specific, complex needs of private equity firms, which often require extensive customization.
  • Overwhelming Features: Many features included in the out-of-the-box product may be unnecessary for private equity firms, potentially complicating the user experience.
  • Limited Industry Relevance: The standard solution is less tailored to the specific needs of private equity and venture capital fund managers.
  • Higher Expenses: A common pitfall for fund managers is the unnecessary cost associated with standard Salesforce licenses, paying for superfluous functionalities irrelevant to their specific needs.


Find out more about top CRM systems for investment banking 


Overall, while Salesforce out-of-the-box offers a broad CRM platform, it falls short in addressing the specific complexities and nuances of fund management in the private equity sector and here are some areas that need improvement:

Lack of Salesforce Standard Objects for Fund Management

Out-of-the-box Salesforce primarily includes general objects like Accounts and Contacts. However, it lacks specialized objects for fund management such as Deals, Funds, and Investors, which are crucial for accurately representing fund management activities.

Therefore, investors should tailor this CRM for private equity with custom objects and fields to match their operational requirements. However, consulting firms like Ascendix that specialize in developing functionalities specifically for private equity workflows can help you with creating custom functionality.

Limitations in Tracking Investor Communication Preferences

The success of Private Equity and Venture Capital hinges on strong relationships with Limited Partners (LPs) and other fund managers, often characterized by unique communication preferences and needs.

Standard Salesforce does not facilitate the segmentation of investor contacts or management of their communication preferences, such as specific fund-related emails or choices for receiving fund documents. Consultancies such as Ascendix can help you harness the full potential of Salesforce for private equity, enabling strong segmentation in your solution to better align with your strategic objectives.

Restriction on Multiple Investments Tracking

Salesforce’s generic version struggles with managing multiple investments by LPs and General Partners (GPs) in various funds simultaneously. This limitation can result in redundant data and an inability to efficiently handle the complex one-to-many investment relationships common in fund management.

Working with Ascendix, you can minimize risks and tailor this private equity CRM system to meet your intricate system needs.

Inadequate Recording of Investment Data

Standard Salesforce does not differentiate between committed capital and passed investment opportunities, leading to a conflation of all opportunities into a single funnel. This restricts the capacity to effectively analyze and track both committed and uncommitted capital, limiting strategic investment decisions. Ascendix will assist you in customizing your CRM for private equity to track investment data accurately.

Specialized Salesforce Support for Private Equity

While Salesforce offers extensive self-help resources, the reality is that many employees, busy with multiple tasks, require more direct and specialized support. Ascendix provides a virtual Salesforce admin service tailored for private equity firms, focusing on quick and effective onboarding, best practices, and maximizing Salesforce utility.

This includes setting up insightful dashboards, conducting training sessions for various user levels, and offering ongoing webinars and support to ensure firms are well-equipped to manage their specific needs of CRM for private equity.

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Salesforce Customization Pros & Cons

While initial Salesforce licensing fees may seem substantial, the long-term ROI of the Salesforce customization presents a compelling case. Salesforce’s scalable architecture allows firms to expand its functionality in tandem with their growth, ensuring that the investment in the platform remains aligned with the firm’s evolving requirements.

This scalability means that as a firm grows and its processes become more complex, Salesforce can adapt accordingly, providing a robust foundation for future growth without the need for constant reinvestment in new systems.



Salesforce Customization Pros:

  • Personalized Functionality: Customization allows for a CRM for private equity that is precisely tailored to the unique business processes and workflows, improving efficiency and productivity.
  • Competitive Advantage: Custom features can provide firms with unique tools that give them an edge over competitors who may be using a standard CRM setup.
  • Enhanced User Experience: A system designed around the user’s needs can lead to higher adoption rates, as users are more likely to engage with software that aligns with their daily tasks and preferences.
  • Streamlined Operations: Customization can remove unnecessary features that clutter the interface, making the private equity CRM solution more streamlined and easier to navigate.
  • Improved Data Management: Custom fields and functions can ensure that the firm captures all relevant data points, leading to better data quality and more insightful analytics.
  • Scalability: As the private equity firm grows, a customized Salesforce solution can be adapted and scaled to fit expanding business needs without starting from scratch.
  • High Industry Fit: Allows for a fully tailored CRM tool for private equity specific to the business model and operations of the fund.
  • Specific Workflow Integration: Customized Salesforce can include specialized features for fundraising, LP administration, investor management, and more.


Salesforce Customization Cons:

  • Higher Initial Cost: Customizing Salesforce can be expensive, with costs for developers, consultants, and potential additional licensing fees for custom apps, however, it can bring a higher return on investment in the long run. Moreover, you can opt for Salesforce platform licenses rather than the more extensive Sales Cloud or Service Cloud licenses for building custom solutions.
    This approach is not only more economical but also avoids the inclusion of redundant features, resulting in a more streamlined and cost-effective tool for the unique demands of fund management.
    Also, Ascendix offers a fractional team package – a cost-effective option for hiring a team of dedicated resources like Salesforce consultants, developers, or business analysts for a fraction of time (10%, 25%, 50%) tailored to the project’s changing needs.
  • Maintenance Overhead: Custom features may require ongoing maintenance and updates, particularly when Salesforce releases major updates or changes to its platform.
  • Longer Implementation Time: Developing custom CRM solutions for private equity can take a significant amount of time, delaying the period before the firm can start reaping the benefits of the CRM.
  • Complexity and Training: A customized CRM software for private equity may be more complex, requiring comprehensive training for users to effectively utilize all its features.
  • Risk of Over-Customization: For those looking to customize Salesforce independently, there’s a risk of creating a system so customized that it becomes rigid and difficult to adapt to new business processes or market conditions. However, hiring a professional team of experts can manage these risks and give a second opinion on previously implemented features.

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How Ascendix Can Help Private Equity Firms with Salesforce Solutions

Salesforce provides a robust digital platform with essential features for crafting a compelling, customized user experience. As certified Salesforce consultants and developers, we can assist you in fully leveraging your investment to its utmost potential.

  • Develop a secure self-service portal powered by Experience Cloud for borrowers, investors, lenders, and partners, featuring a meticulously designed hierarchy of user roles, sharing protocols, permissions, and access controls. Refine your portal’s design to boost the digital experience, ensuring users find it intuitive and user-friendly.
  • Align technical strategy with business goals to leverage Salesforce capabilities fully by creating custom fields and objects to streamline data integration across systems, including support for data export/import.
  • Optimize Salesforce for managing deals, co-investment opportunities, and joint ventures with a centralized tool.
  • Integrate Salesforce with other third-party tools to manage communications, meetings, maintain investor relations, and enhance portfolio operations effectively at scale.
  • Support direct fundraising processes with tools like Pardot (MC Account Engagement) and Mailchimp and manage the fundraising pipeline.
  • Set up Ascendix Search for candidates search via maps, zip code, and radius search for better outcomes.
  • Get real-time views and management capabilities for dealmakers to handle their investments on any device via custom reports and dashboards.
  • Provide specialized ongoing support and expertise for the Salesforce Org as the business grows and evolves and offer hands-on Salesforce support services to complement the firm’s in-house skills and simplify the onboarding of new investors and clients

Want to adapt the Salesforce organization to the growing needs of your private equity firm? Book a free CRM consulting call and we’ll help you maximize your investment in Salesforce.

Salesforce for Private Equity FAQ

Do private equity firms use Salesforce?

Yes, private equity firms do use Salesforce. It is one of the leading CRM platforms that can be customized extensively to suit the specific needs of private equity firms, such as managing investor relationships, tracking potential deals, and monitoring portfolio companies.

What is a CRM for investors?

A CRM for investors is a tool that centralizes key investor data, streamlines communication, tracks engagements, and supports personalized relationship management to align with investment firms’ strategic objectives.


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