What is Salesforce?

by Leslie Bloom; Updated February 28, 2018
Business people negotiating a contract.

Salesforce is a cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform that companies use to monitor and manage their sales and marketing efforts. Companies of all sizes and from all industries use the Salesforce CRM to streamline and improve their businesses.

What is Salesforce?

Many companies previously created their own CRM hosted on their own internal computer servers. Over time, these became costly to maintain and cumbersome to support. Salesforce was founded by Marc Benioff in 1999 as a way for companies to store and access their information through the cloud, with minimal upfront cost. Over the years, Salesforce has become a leader in CRM platforms and one of the largest software firms in the United States.

Salesforce’s primary product is its CRM platform, which allows companies to keep track of customers and manage prospective leads. Salesforce gathers information from callers and website visitors so that salespeople and marketers can reach out and convert those leads into customers. Through the platform's dashboard, you can get real-time tracking data and access useful reports.

Salesforce also has platforms for tracking marketing, customer service, digital commerce and website analytics. Salesforce is completely customizable so that you can get the product that makes the most sense for your company.

Why a Business Should Use Salesforce

Salesforce can be a valuable tool for your business. It allows you to constantly monitor your sales and marketing teams, as well as website analytics and support tickets. It can reduce redundancy and errors in tracking, increasing productivity and accurate business projections.

The Salesforce platform is customizable, allowing you to create a dashboard and functionality that works best for your business. In addition to its own expansive features, Salesforce apps interface with other programs such as social media and email marketing so that you can aggregate data and see results in one place.

One of the most useful features of Salesforce is its reporting functionality. You are able to create standard or customized reports at the click of a button. Using the CRM, you can get up-to-the-minute reports on such areas as accounts, contacts, leads, forecasts, marketing campaigns, and products and assets. You can also analyze historical data to get big-picture reports.

From a technology standpoint, one of the perks of Salesforce is that it is hosted in the cloud. That means it gets upgraded regularly so that you always have the latest version. It also means your information is backed up so you don’t risk losing valuable company information. Hosting in the cloud is also less expensive than hosting and maintaining your own internal servers.

Salesforce can be made accessible to your entire team so that company and team goals can be tracked and monitored. This gets a team on the same page and working toward the same goals. It also allows managers to see how their team is performing and make adjustments as needed.

Tips for Implementing and Using Salesforce

If you are going to acquire Salesforce for your company, spend time determining your needs and what you want to get out of the platform. You’ll want to use Salesforce in a way that makes sense. If you have an existing CRM, you can use that as a starting point.

For example, if you want to figure out why internet calls are not converting to clients, you want to be able to track the call by keyword and website. That way you will see where the call is ending up in the sales cycle and determine why it failed to convert.

If that feels overwhelming, there are Salesforce-approved companies that can help you do an audit of what you’ll need and help you implement Salesforce.

Once you have Salesforce in place, you’ll need to train your team on how to use it. Make sure everyone is on the same page about how to input and use the data, and how to use the reporting features. You’ll need to designate one or two team members as administrators of Salesforce so they can answer any questions and do troubleshooting.

While not overly complicated to use once it’s in place, Salesforce does require training to use properly. You will learn the ins and outs of how your particular dashboard works, and how to best use the information for your company.

About the Author

Leslie is a Los Angeles native with more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of online and print publications. She has degrees in both journalism and law.

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