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Salesforce for Emerging Businesses: Is it worth your moolah?


Nupur Singh

January 23, 2015

You have just about started your business and are setting up the operations gradually. This is a tricky and critical time for you. Not only do you have to manage a lot of things, you also need to be very smart with your investments. Office space in the suburbs or one downtown where the rent is more affordable?  Open source or licensed software? Excel sheets or a Project Management tool? Any CRM or Salesforce? What do you do?

If you are running an emerging business, you are likely to prioritize streamlining of your business above other things. As a Salesforce professional, I am often asked how Salesforce can help emerging businesses with its ‘huge’ licensing costs and overheads (read: customization, custom development and integration costs over and beyond the license fees). I hope to touch upon some of these issues and quash a few myths in this post.

Salesforce: Packing the Productivity Punch!

Traditionally, SMBs are often guilty of doing business with traditional IT in a bad way, including inadequate backup and systems which are susceptible to malware and difficult to configure. Like any other business, you are looking to increase your customer base, drive consistent growth and increase your revenue. Salesforce helps you achieve all this by streamlining your operations, through process automation and seamless collaboration.

Using Salesforce, you can improve the rate at which you respond to your prospects, thus creating and cementing the foundation of your business. Salesforce has an extensive reporting that leverages on your organization data, measures the effectiveness of your KPIs and enables you to focus on right opportunities while collecting data that is critical to your business.

You can also make use of the email templates that Salesforce provides to give your business the much-needed branding and use email marketing to its full potential. Salesforce Chatter lets you leverage the wisdom and networking reach of your workforce, helping you close more deals faster, while its availability on mobile enables you to speed up the whole process of innovation and productivity. Salesforce’s availability on mobile makes you ultra-productive on the fly; so now you can submit approvals while going home, close deals on the spot and submit documents during a client meeting and approve invoices after your tennis match! With Salesforce, you no longer need to wait for manual updates from your teams and it eases the whole process of managing your tasks. Salesforce also helps you get rid of dirty data, eliminating redundancy and inaccuracies and providing complete visibility to your pipeline.

Attuned for Emerging Businesses

Salesforce has dedicated editions for SMBs and SMEs which allow you to choose an edition which has the features and pricing plan that is right for your organization. Salesforce Contact Manager is available at USD 5/month/user for a year’s subscription which includes complete Account and Contact Management functionality. In this edition, you get task and event tracking, integration with your Outlook and Gmail, mobile support, content library, custom reports and chatter for social connect with your customers, which are sufficient to support a business That has just about started to grow its wings.

Salesforce Group edition has all the features of Contact Manager as well as Opportunity tracking and email templates for sending branded and customized emails to your customers. It enables you to get more insights into your business with basic reporting and dashboard. It does not have person accounts and mass-mailing features but you can easily find supportive tools on the AppExchange which help you send mass emails from within your Salesforce.

Salesforce Professional edition gives you the ability to manage your marketing campaigns, contracts and orders, in addition to the basic sales and marketing features provided by the previous editions. The customizable dashboards enable you to get more business insights and accurate forecasts for your pipeline. At USD 65/user/month, it is quite a bargain to manage your entire sales cycle.

…and it has some helpful tools…

Salesforce has small business tools that help grow your pipeline and increase sales productivity. They help improve the performance of your sales reps and give you complete insights about your business that inevitably helps you gain more sales. These tools are available on Salesforce AppExchange, some even for free! A lot of Salesforce ISV partners have created scalable apps that are targeted for small and medium size businesses using Salesforce and Heroku platform which enhance employee productivity and help you collaborate with teams seamlessly.

Great! Tell me more about these tools…

Some of the tools that help you streamline your business and enhance the productivity of your mobile workforce are listed below:

  • Dropbox for Salesforce enables you to collaborate you’re your colleagues and customers on all your important data saved in Dropbox, from within your Salesforce. It is available for both Group and Professional editions.
  • LinkPoint 360 streamlines data access with an instant view of your Salesforce data in your Outlook, recording emails, creating new contacts and syncing content to Salesforce directly from Outlook. It supports both Group and Professional editions.
  • Free Sales Funnel is an app tailor-made for your Sales Managers and VPs, enabling them to learn at which stage they lose deals, see real percentage conversion by opportunity stages, forecast accurately by percentage conversions to Closed-Won and win more deals. It supports both Group and Professional editions.

The final word…

Irrespective of the size of your business, Salesforce packs the same punch in the features and functionality that it makes available through its various editions. One of the best ways that I recommend to business owners who are just starting with CRM or new to Salesforce is to choose the edition whose pricing plan suits the scale of their business and gradually go for editions with additional features. This enables you to leverage the benefit of Salesforce without too much of a cost overhead, consolidate your business before you are ready to scale up.

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