What is Salesforce and Why Would My Business Buy It?

Welcome to the Cloudify Podcast, Episode 1.

This is where we discuss new ways to grow, innovate and automate your business using cloud-based solutions.

I’m your host, Michael, from CloudAdvisory.io and today we’re going to discuss a topic near and dear to our heart: What is Salesforce and why would I want it for my business?

If you’re in business, you know you’ve got people you’ve got to connect with, there’s a whole bunch of activity that happens around that, right?

You have to work to find, attract, convert and sell to those customers and the support them once you’ve acquired them. Now as you can see, it can be quite a chaotic mess if you don’t have a system to manage all those interactions.

In the olden days, you know, we’d use ledgers to keep track of all of our customers and customer interactions, and then we evolved and went to software, basically, or computer-based systems, and that’s when this little thing called ‘CRM’ came into play.

So what is CRM?

CRM is Customer Relationship Management software. CRM is traditionally software for sales people, but now today it’s also used by customer service, marketing, and general business operations. Generally, it’s used as a way to track and manage Leads, Accounts, Contacts at those Accounts, and any sales Opportunities within Accounts.

Back in 1999, Salesforce came into a market where in order to have Customer Relationship Management software in a business you had to spend millions and millions of dollars on something like Siebel or Oracle, and you would have to invest in on-premise servers and equipment. Instead Salesforce came out with this idea of Software-as-a-Service, which was, “Hey, we’re going to host everybody on the same system and they can access it via web browser.” In those days that was a pretty radical and scary idea.

Number one, internet access was not exactly as fast as it is today– it was pretty low bandwidth– so the ability to access web-based software was not a common idea. Two, people were concerned about, “Hey, where’s my data and is it secure?” SaaS in 1999 a was pretty bleeding edge concept, but now Salesforce as a company is a leading software service provider, definitely a pioneer in the industry, probably one of, if not the largest, publicly traded software-as-a-service-companies and they’re growing. They provide businesses with software that helps them innovate, automate and grow, which is the whole point of this podcast.

They’re led by CEO and founder Marc Benioff. Marc is a protege of Larry Ellison from Oracle and actually Oracle and Larry Ellison were one of the first investors in Salesforce and under the hood of Salesforce, that web-based software, the database component was actually run and I think it still is run on Oracle.

If you go to Salesforce’s website you’ll see that they position themselves now as the customer success platform. Whereas initially they were traditionally just a CRM company in the cloud, now they’ve diversified and come out with other line of business applications on the exact same platform and really has become a platform.

It’s not just CRM software, but also marketing, service, other business applications, plus business analytics and community applications in the cloud. Again, it is software that is accessed by web browser login, or in the case of mobile via the Salesforce1 app you can access it using a smartphone or a tablet on iOS or Android. It is, again, still used to keep track of customer interactions, but now across more than just the sales organization and unlike those olden days where you had to spend millions of dollars to operate, basically, a data center inside of your company, putting software on local machines and across a network on servers, now there’s no on-premise equipment and you simply pay per user per monthly login account. They are truly a software-as-a-service provider, where you just go to a browser, log in, and there’s a robust security model. Unlike 16 years ago where internet access was slow, now you can access it from anywhere and in real time and the user experience is fast. It’s very secure, scalable, and customizable as well, which we’ll talk about in future episodes. To meet the needs of a specific business Salesforce is not just like one-application-fits-all model. There is a really powerful custom application and customization model around all those different applications.

Salesforce as a platform has four major optional applications.

One is the Sales Cloud which is traditional CRM used by, usually, the sales organization within a company.

There’s also now the Service Cloud and this is where customer support or a customer service part of the company can utilize the same platform to manage customer inquiries and interactions and deal with any tickets or cases that they have to resolve.

Also a Marketing Cloud, so a marketing organization can use Salesforce as a way to create campaigns, generate new leads, get them directly into Salesforce and track the results of those campaigns.

The fourth component is the App Cloud and this is actually a bunch of stuff inside of the app cloud, but basically these are all developer tools in the cloud.

Unlike, say, .Net or if you’re using something like Java as a programming language or framework, you don’t have to do heavy duty programming; there’s lightweight ways to create business applications. You can even buy applications on the AppExchange and the AppExchange is kind of like Salesforce’s iTunes for business.

Then the other application option on the platform is Community Cloud. Community Cloud allows you to provide an external portal to customers or partners and you can share documents or polls or post messages to one another in a secure environment.

Finally there is now also a Salesforce Analytics Cloud. In addition to the inherent reporting capabilities of Salesforce, now there’s the Wave Analytics Cloud and this basically gives you more of a business intelligence framework to visualize data, see the health of your business and to even make predictions and projections now.

Lightning Layer of Salesforce

So why would I buy Salesforce for my business?

If you are in a company and you deal with customers and you want to manage those customer interactions you would need a CRM and Salesforce is the leading solution to manage those interactions. It helps marketing run campaigns and generate new leads so you can attract new customers, it also helps automate business processes. So when you have a lot of best practices or processes that are maybe not written down anywhere and difficult to follow, you can actually operationalize those using the Salesforce platform and the workplace automation tools that are built-in. Pretty unique solution, it’s really interesting once you get into it. We’ll talk about that in future episodes, just look for those.

You can also have little to no software development costs. Instead of having to build an application from scratch, you can buy a mostly done application and customize it for your business needs and then you can integrate all those different normal silos of information. So normally there’s an application for marketing, an application that supports sales or a software application to support customer support, product delivery, accounting, inventory– now it’s all on one platform and that data is basically all in the same silo and then the user interface and capabilities are customized by line of business.

Also there’s a lot of other reasons, but those are just some of the major reasons that if you’re a business that you might want to buy something like Salesforce, or at least consider buying Salesforce.

So what does it look like? Once you go to a web browser and you log in, you have a dashboard view. You can see the home tab of your Salesforce login and you will see your calendar. In my case my calendar is synced with Google Calendar, but it can also sync with Exchange and Outlook.

Well I login I also see any tasks that I have that are outstanding and these can either be self-assigned or assigned by others within my team or within the Salesforce organization, the organization being my company that’s on my private instance of Salesforce, and then I can see if, in my case, I might have items to approve and if there are any workflow automations that are built-in. On the top you’ll see chatter, leads, opportunities, accounts, contacts, cases and reports.

These are kind of common objects which are really like silos of data information, so you can have records.

Chatter is kind of like an internal social network so I can collaborate with my colleagues inside of my company and in some cases externally with customers.

Leads are unqualified expressions of interest in our product or service that come in through various marketing campaigns.

Opportunities are qualified sales opportunities that I’m managing from the initial stages of the sales cycle to the end. Opportunities revolve around Accounts, as do Contacts and Cases. Accounts being, you know, the companies that I’m dealing with or the organization, and then the Opportunities are– I can have many opportunities in an account, I can have many contacts in an account.

Cases are any customer service interactions that I would have with that account. Finally you have the feature of Reports. Anything the I collect inside of Salesforce I, for the most part, have the ability to report on. There’s always some limitations but it’s actually a pretty powerful reporting tool that’s built-in.

Salesforce Logged In View of Home Screen

So that’s essentially what Salesforce looks like.

Check back for additional episodes where we’ll talk about more specific applications of each of those difference service, marketing, sales clouds or the app cloud, but in this case, this should give you a pretty good idea of what is Salesforce as a company; what is Salesforce as a platform; and why would a business look at Salesforce; and why you might buy it. Thanks for joining and look for– check out some of our other episodes and you’ll see some, hopefully, some valuable information.

Please leave comments below or share with your colleagues or friends and if you have any questions, please post a message and we’ll try to respond to them.

This has been an episode of the Cloudify Podcast, brought to you by Cloud Advisory LLC www.cloudadvisory.io, a registered Salesforce partner.

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