Unless you have ever been interested in the CRM software sphere, you probably have no clue what Salesforce is and what it can do for you. However, regardless of whether you are just curious about CRM’s top players or considering deploying the system in your organization, in a few paragraphs, we’ll make you an expert in questions like “What is Salesforce?”, “What is Salesforce used for?”, and “What are Salesforce benefits?”
Just dive into the topic with us.
To this date, Salesforce has had over 150,000 customers across the world and is behind the scenes of such business behemoths as American Express, Sony, and the Coca-Cola Enterprise.
Also, since 2015 the company has partnered with Apple to improve apps for businesses and started collaborating with Facebook in launching Facebook Analytics for marketers in 2017.
Now, Salesforce dominates the CRM market with a 20% market share and its share prices are only going to increase.
What’s more, in 2019 Marc Benioff, the Salesforce co-founder and CEO, was named 4th in the list of America’s most innovative leaders by Forbes. The company is famous for company and product acquisition among the latest and the most significant ones are ClickSoftware, Mulesoft, and Tableau.
So, what makes this company so popular, and why do so many businesses from start-ups to Fortune 500 jump on the Salesforce train?
To understand it better we need to dig into the Salesforce and CRM market history and history of the CRM market first.
A Bit of Salesforce & CRM Background
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a technology aimed at improving your company’s relationship and interaction management with customers and potential customers. In essence, CRM software helps companies stay connected with their customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability.
Salesforce revolutionized technology and the CRM world in 1999, being one of the first cloud computing companies. What was unique about it? Salesforce started delivering its software through Internet browsers instead of company-hosted servers thereby reducing costs on their building, installation, maintenance, and support.
Also, Salesforce enabled users to get access to their software from anywhere, not only from the office building.
On top of it, one of Mark Benioff’s goals was to make the use of CRM as easy as using Amazon services.
At that time, CRM solutions were quite bulky, non-flexible, and difficult to operate.
In fact, it always required external help from highly skilled developers (and that was exactly what our company did since Ascendix’s founding in 1996).
In contrast to it, Salesforce offered the combination of simplicity, scalability, and online accessibility to data from any point on Earth in their software solution which made them an instant hit and a global leader on the market.
So, What is Salesforce?
Now, Salesforce is a huge infrastructure of software products that helps marketing, sales, commerce, service, and IT teams connect with their customers.
Although Salesforce started as a Software as a Service (SaaS) company, it has grown to a Platform as a Service (PaaS) company.
This means that their customers can not only buy a ready-to-use Salesforce CRM system but also build their own framework components (Lightning components) and custom apps on top of the Salesforce Lightning platform (Force.com), become Salesforce partners and then market these software products on its own app marketplace – AppExchange.
Also, Salesforce encourages users and companies to know their platform capabilities and features better and join their online training hub, Trailhead where they can get educational resources from learning modules like “Salesforce Platform Basics” or experts’ support from the Trailblazer Community.
Ok, But What is Salesforce Used for?
Salesforce’s ecosystem hosts a number of various cloud platforms that allow you to interact with different data and service your customers in various capacities.
It helps you understand your customers better by providing a 360-degree view of your customer’s lifecycle, improved and centralized data management, streamlined workflows, and integrated systems in a zip.
Despite having numerous products, CRM is still the lifeblood of Salesforce’s entire model and it is optimized for different business niches in Salesforce Clouds.
Let’s discover these major products.
The Sales Cloud is a CRM platform that was Salesforce’s first and most popular product. This product is designed for the management of your organization’s sales. Initially, this cloud was created for B2B (Business-to-Business) companies to guide potential customers through a defined sales cycle. However, now B2C (Business-to-Consumer) companies can also leverage the Sales Cloud.
Its main built-in objects include:
- Lead (people that expressed an interest in your products or services)
- Account (companies that you want to track)
- Contact (employees of the companies you want to track)
- Opportunity (potential deals that might result in a new business your sales team believes in)
So, Lead can be converted into Account, Contact, and Opportunity objects, and Opportunity, in turn, can be scaled by different stages and probabilities. What’s more, the Sales Cloud has out-of-the-box features like quoting and opportunity forecasting.
Besides, all standard objects can be enhanced with custom fields relevant to your business. For instance, if you sell multiple services or products, you can wish to create a field to track the product interest of your Leads.
Task tracking and workflow automation in Sales Cloud can help you automatically create a set of tasks based on certain criteria. For example, every time when you create a new Lead, the system can create a sequence of tasks for you to call or email this lead.
Also, a big advantage of the Sales Cloud is that you can access all the functionality via mobile application (works for iOS and Android) and utilize sales data from any location. To get a comprehensive understanding of Sales Cloud capabilities, watch this demo:
Further, Salesforce Sales Cloud can be enhanced with CPQ & Billing, Salesforce Anywhere, Sales Cloud Einstein, High-Velocity Sales, Inbox, Lightning Dialer, and Salesforce Maps.
Our Salesforce consultants provide advisory services on the best practices of the Sales Cloud implementation. With Ascendix’s expert guidance you will enrich the productivity of your organization by employing a well-optimized CRM solution with functionality tailored exactly to your needs.
The Service Cloud is a service platform from Salesforce for your company’s customer service and support team.
It is designed to speed up customers’ case tracking and resolution via multiple channels like email, live chat, or phone to encourage efficient communication with them.
In addition, the product enables users to create self-service customer service portals and offers pre-prepared communication via automated responses for certain outcomes.
Cases and Solutions are basic objects of the Service Cloud. Its standard features include:
- Ticket Assignment
- Queue Management
- Live Chat
- Knowledge Base
The base functionality can be optimized with social networking plugins for effective online brand reputation management that help to monitor and respond to customers’ posts. Also, Service Cloud is telephony-friendly and allows its integration which is particularly useful for large enterprises with big customer service centers
You can boost Salesforce Service Cloud with Field Service, Service Cloud Einstein, Digital Engagement, Customer Lifecycle Analytics, Service Cloud Voice, Salesforce Anywhere, and Salesforce Surveys Response Pack.
In case the standard set of the Service Cloud features doesn’t meet all your technology requirements, you may request the help of our team of Salesforce consultants and they will assist you with the customization and configuration of your CRM software to get the most out of it.
#3 Salesforce Marketing Cloud
The Marketing Cloud is a powerful digital marketing platform for B2C marketers where you can connect with your customers, track the customer journey across multiple communication channels, manage your social media presence, email promotions, digital advertising campaigns, content creation, and data analysis. Its wide spectrum of features allows you to market to your customers via email, SMS, social networks, and digital advertising platforms and to interact with your customers and particular pieces of content.
Also, the Marketing Cloud offers capabilities like Lead filtering and management, customizable qualifiers, and visitor reporting. However, among the most valuable functionality for marketers is, probably, marketing automation.
The Marketing Cloud can be seamlessly integrated with the Sales or Service Cloud to consolidate all the data under one tool.
Moreover, users can customize their marketing efforts via various built-in creation studios within the Marketing Cloud. Social networking posts can be drafted, scheduled, and analyzed through the Social Studio, while mailshots can be created and distributed through the Email Studio. Likewise, the Advertising Studio will identify the most effective forms of digital advertising for the user and suggest ways to tailor campaigns to maximize return.
If you have difficulties with the Salesforce Marketing Cloud customization, we, at Ascendix are always ready to come forward with the best solutions on CRM optimization and apps integration to make your software your “right hand” rather than a headache. Likewise, we can suggest the best ideas for marketing automation.
As it has been mentioned, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud unifies several products, so let’s discuss them separately:
Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (AKA. Pardot)
Pardot is Salesforce’s B2B email marketing automation tool topped up with an ability to build landing pages and forms. It is used as an email marketing platform for sending emails to prospects on behalf of sales reps and qualifying leads that get passed to sales reps. Pardot fits better for smaller databases with higher value sales and can be integrated with Sales Cloud or any other CRM solution.
The key functionality of Pardot can be elevated with Salesforce Engage, Engagement History Dashboards, and B2B Marketing Analytics Plus.
Journey Builder is another member of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud family, designed for in B2C marketing segment. This tool enables you to visualize your strategies with journey mapping and steadily adjust customers’ journeys based on their ongoing and forecasted behavior.
Thanks to it you can trigger customers on journeys based on real-time events like purchases, closed service cases, or mobile app downloads.
Email Studio empowers you to craft refined, individualized emails with customizable dynamic elements and scripting languages. This solution helps to fine-tune and automate email journeys and build more personalized relationships with your clients.
Mobile Studio is similar to Email Studio but focused on the generation of marketing content for mobile devices. This tool enables you to craft messages that can be delivered via SMS, MMS, Chat, and Push messages.
Marketing Cloud Customer Data Platform (AKA. Customer 360 Audiences)
Customer 360 Audiences, previously known as Salesforce DMP, is another part of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud products ecosystem. It is a data-first digital marketing platform for unifying all of your customer data humanizing every interaction. Customer 360 Audiences allows building segmented lists of your customers and tailoring communication to the exact audience segment you want to target.
Marketing Cloud Advertising (AKA. Advertising Studio)
Advertising Studio is another marketing enhancer for centralized digital advertising. This platform unifies the management of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Google Ads advertising campaigns.
Marketing Cloud Personalization (AKA. Interaction Studio)
Marketing Cloud Personalization, like any other marketing automation product, elevates engagement with customers to a new level. It helps to understand what your customers want and make the best decision automatically and modify the AI algorithms powering your personalization strategies.
It helps deliver cross-channel personalized experiences at every step of the customer lifecycle with campaign management and aligns your message across every marketing channel.
Marketing Cloud Intelligence (AKA. Datorama)
Marketing Cloud Intelligence enables connection, analysis, and taking action on all your data in one marketing dashboard to drive ROI, speed, and growth across your business.
Marketing Cloud Advanced Cross Channel (AKA. Advanced Cross Channel)
Advertising Studio: campaign management and CRM targeting solution for digital marketing campaigns.
Distributed Marketing & Marketing Cloud Connect: bridges the gap between corporate marketing, employees, channel partners, and your brand to deliver consistent experiences across corporate marketing and partner networks.
Corporate marketers build and share on-brand, collaborative content in Marketing Cloud. Distributed teams of advisors, partners, and more can view, personalize, and send this content directly from CRM experiences. Distributed Marketing provides a managed package that is installed in your CRM environment.
You can install Distributed Marketing content blocks in your Marketing Cloud environment to easily enable powerful content collaboration. All send use the power of Marketing Cloud to help teams of all sizes engage with their books of business reliably and at scale.
Einstein for Marketing: Give your marketers the tools to make every customer journey and interaction.
effective. Understand customers better with predictive insights, create personalized messages and content, receive suggestions on when and how to engage with a customer, and more with Einstein for Marketing.
#4 Salesforce Financial Services Cloud
The Financial Services Cloud is an integrated platform tailored to any financial organization’s relationship model to drive stronger client relationships. Powered by Lightning, this platform makes it easy for financial institutions like a financial planning firm, an insurance company, or a bank, and others to deliver exceptional service by making it really consumer-centric. An enhanced set of engagement and productivity features allows financial advisors to provide holistic advisory services and spend less time on gathering client information.
Our in-depth expertise in various financial domains enables us to configure your software solution so that you could better understand your customer’s financial data and could have lightning-fast access to them. Learn more about our financial institutions in focus.
#5 Salesforce App Cloud
The App Cloud platform provides you with a collection of development tools that you can utilize to develop custom apps that will run on the Salesforce platform. Some of the tools in the App Cloud include:
- Force.com (also known as Lightning platform) enables admins and developers to create custom Lightning Components and applications using open-source Aura framework, Apex (Application Express), a propriety Java-like language, and Visualforce framework with XML syntax, generally used to generate HTML. Even though it may sound too complicated for a non-tech-savvy mind, Salesforce tried to simplify the use of it to a point-and-click interface for powerful process automation.
- AppExchange is Salesforce’s online application marketplace for third-party applications from independent software vendors that are hosted on the Force.com platform. Its concept is identical to AppStore and Google Play: you can simply download and install apps to improve the functionality of your device. Only in this case, you will optimize your software solution. So, if you have a software idea that can benefit not only your organization but can significantly facilitate working processes for other Salesforce users, you are welcome to bring your idea to life with our AppExchange app development services. Our expertise in creating and successful marketing our own AppExchange apps, Ascendix Search, and AscendixRE CRM enables us to design a deployment and marketing strategy for your software solution.
- Heroku is a cloud platform that lets companies be flexible in building, delivering, monitoring, and scaling apps using their preferred programming languages and tools. Heroku offers the fastest way to go from idea to URL, bypassing all the infrastructure headaches.
- Salesforce Thunder is a big data and rules-processing engine designed to take in the massive volumes of data generated by devices, sensors, websites, apps, customers, and partners that can capture, filter and respond to events in real-time.
- Salesforce Sandbox is a copy of your organization that allows developers to test ideas and allows users to get training in a safe and isolated development environment without affecting your Salesforce production organization.
#6 Salesforce Commerce Cloud
The Commerce Cloud offers best-in-class features and functionality to provide excellent customer service and experience irrespective of your customer’s presence (online or offline). It also frees your business from the demands of managing a technical roadmap and enables customer data integration so that your consumers can have a better experience.
If your focus is on providing your clients with a positive, engaging customer experience, then Commerce Cloud will be the best fit for you.
#7 Salesforce Community (Experience) Cloud
The Community Cloud is a social platform for external collaboration and custom portal creation. This tool can help your organization centralize and facilitate communication among your employees, partners, and customers. The Community Cloud allows you to use this platform to exchange documents, images, and other data in real-time.
Community Cloud can be easily integrated with Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and App Cloud and customized to fulfill your business needs. Community Cloud lets you automatically source data and images from your Salesforce and significantly reduce time on content management.
#8 Salesforce Analytics Cloud
The Analytics Cloud is a business intelligence platform for large data file elaboration and data and reports visualization. It is optimized for mobile access and can be integrated with other Salesforce clouds.
#9 Salesforce Industrial Solutions
To go even further, Salesforce customized its products to meet the needs of specific industries.
The scope of industry categories that Salesforce is ready to support is quite impressive:
- Healthcare & Life Sciences
- Consumer Goods
- Transportation & Hospitality
- IoT (Internet of Things)
Don’t see your industry on the list? Make sure to check AppExchange, the Salesforce marketplace, where Salesforce Partners publish and sell their tools. For example, our company sells AscendixRE focused on commercial real estate companies.
Besides industry-specific solutions, there are other platforms like:
- Chatter — a Salesforce collaboration platform that is created to connect users wherever they are and to boost knowledge and data sharing between departments within the organization and to communicate with people outside of your organization.
- Salesforce Einstein — is an artificial intelligence (AI) technology employed in CRM to simplify the analytics workflow and produce more accurate forecasting. Einstein is available in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, App Cloud, Analytics Cloud, and Community Cloud.
- Salesforce1 – is the platform that enables you to develop applications and exchange data via Application Programming Interface (APIs) and prebuilt programming code components.
Being an innovative technology leader, Salesforce is constantly evolving and improving its products with new releases three times a year: in Winter, Spring, and Summer releases. All the important updates in regards to the summaries of seasonal releases you can find in our blog resources.
And What Salesforce Benefits Make You Choose Them?
Based on Salesforce statistics, companies using Salesforce generally see a 34% increase in customer satisfaction, a 32% increase in lead conversion, and a 27% increase in sales revenues. What are the key elements of platform success among its customers? Let’s take a closer look.
Due to the fact that Salesforce is a holistic ecosystem with its own development platform, has AI technology, is a big data processing engine, collaboration portal, and app marketplace, the platform is enabled to meet all the technology needs of your CRM system while also integrating other Salesforce-friendly third-party tools.
Your business is evolving and expanding and so should your Salesforce. Salesforce platform architecture and functionality allow your CRM to grow with your organization without disrupting your software.
The world is becoming increasingly mobile. This is when Salesforce comes in handy and allows you to access your product anywhere. The Salesforce Mobile App enables you to get an equally full version of your product on your phone or tablet to what you have on your desktop.
Yes, it may sound weird but the more popular this platform becomes, the better it is for you. Why? So, you don’t have to spend hours searching for tools that can be integrated with your product — there are already plenty of offers. Also, you can easily find any Salesforce expert that can deploy, optimize, configure, or customize your software because there are already many specialists.
Of course, all the benefits are not limited to the above-mentioned and each Salesforce user can find something special for themselves. Just see what our clients are saying about positive changes in their work processes after we helped them to implement Salesforce-based software solutions.
The Bottom Line
To wrap up all the above-mentioned information, let’s summarize key ideas.
What is Salesforce? Undoubtedly, Salesforce is a multi-faceted tool that can become a remedy or poison depending on how it is implemented and used. However, despite its seeming complexity and apparent versatility that can overwhelm anybody, it can become the best friend for your organization.
What is Salesforce used for? Salesforce has an exhausting list of platforms and products. In order to not to get confused by them, all you need is expert guidance that will help break the ice between you and technology, simplifying all the processes into chunks that can be successfully completed.
What are the top Salesforce benefits? Each business can take advantage of the platform in its unique way, however, among the top ones are affordability, simplicity, scalability, and flexibility.
If you are about to welcome Salesforce CRM into your company and you are a big fan of simplicity, then our Salesforce consulting services will be the best fit for you.
Our consultants will make complicated processes easy for you.
We, at Ascendix, are ready to take any Salesforce-related challenges and successfully overcome them.
Our broad range of Salesforce services, industries in focus, years of experience, and the number of happy clients speak for themselves. And all you need is to contact us and share your project ideas or difficulties and we will be glad to share our expertise with you.
Anzhelika specializes in B2B content marketing and has in-depth expertise in promoting the company's products and services through high-quality content. On the Ascendix Technologies blog, Anzhelika shares her insights of Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM tips & tricks as well as overviews of new CRM tools and technology trends on the market.
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