Why Salesforce CRM May — Or May Not — Fit Your Business
Salesforce CRM is often revered as a choice solution for customer relationship management software; primarily due to its flexible configuration of reports, thorough enterprise content and easy integration of data among the enterprise and software systems. Satisfied adoptive users claim the software has transformed their approach to selling, and has enabled them to define new sales and analytic tactics which help to better understand their chances for business profitability and efficiency—but that doesn’t mean that the software will be a perfect fit for every single business. In this post, we will size up Salesforce’s CRM capabilities; and then match each capability to the type of businesses it best supports. Alongside this breakdown, we will also define the highs and lows of a leading CRM vendor like Salesforce. While the hugely popular system may provide the framework for a significant change initiative in your company, it can also expose business environments and exacerbate weak points due to the nature of the CRM. So, is Salesforce right for you? Read on to find out!
Salesforce CRM Fits: New Challenges Requiring Agile Data Management
Many organizations are feeling a dramatic shift in the dynamics of their selling process. More world markets are opening up the doors to global commerce for businesses of all sizes. Disruptive technologies have altered the way many procure and purchase materials; and the majority of small and medium businesses (SMB) are expanding the roles of their sales employees to that of an end-to-end solutions architect for clients. Instead of just selling product, sales people have to understand their potential client’s needs and then sell them the solution to them—and prove that their company is the most capable at providing them. These decisions are placing heavy pressure on business leaders to procure an agile technology that can scale the demand to an organization’s sales process along with increasing visibility into operations and analytics.
Businesses operating in manufacturing, distribution and logistics industries process large portfolios of materialsand data every day: SKUs, transit routes, and even service plans on a daily basis. This establishes a complex arena for companies to budget, report and forecast their sales and costs. It also deepens the trench of responsibility and accountability of those elected to sell.
Many times these added roles can prompt a descent of selling morale due to convoluted, repetitive data entry – often causing sales members to not understand customers as well as they think they do. Furthermore, mergers and acquisitions over time can prompt incremental and uneven business growth year over year; carving complexity into processes bit by bit – unknowingly converting several similar tasks into an entirely separate process. While this kind of growth is never a bad thing, it does take users sometime to adopt a change to their system, and to grow their routine along with the new processes.
A system with the potential to fix it
If mapped according to a unique work flow within a process, Salesforce can be leveraged to provide a seamless transition from a traditional sales process to one of greater sophistication without creating any more unnecessary complexity. That said, Salesforce is not a one-size fits all solution to the aforementioned challenges – and a savvy PM performing his or her due diligence when evaluating any CRM will tend to agree. It merely provides the platform for that smooth transition. It’s up to the business to leverage that platform to its fullest potential. Likewise, if you’re stuck mulling whether Salesforce is the optimal fit for your organization, understand you’re not alone. Many in your industry are considering the same quantum leap into modern selling and business development. The most popular post on our blog right now is one that compares Salesforce and Dynamics CRM: and there is no one single answer. You must look at your specific business processes and determine which one is best adapted to support them (and not damage your wallet at the same time).
Salesforce CRM Fits: Mobility and Remote Users (maybe)
There are some things the modern workforce has simply come to expect of business software; vibrant displays and intuitive user interfaces; scalability; and now ease of configuration in a mobile application. Today the sales team, and many others in the front office and service teams generate quotes, procure materials and check inventory from sundry locations on a variety of separate machines while working out of the office or during travel. Mobility is fast becoming a daily fact of everyday business, and you must consider this, and your own company’s reliance on the functionality, when selecting CRM.
The cloud-based architecture of Salesforce effectively collects, hubs and distributes this data to each device. It is a useful way to provide real time data to internal groups, sales and service teams working a cross-section of demos in a territory, or regulatory bodies. However, many more CRM vendors are on the verge of releasing versions with robust mobile capacity as the focal point of their offering (some of which are free). For a startup, or company employing less than 10 people, Salesforce may not be the best fit. It truly depends on the breadth and precision of the data sales teams need access to, and the length of time you’d like the sales cycle to render. For other businesses, a robust cloud architecture which can support many offices, sales people and processes is needed–Salesforce is the right choice in those instances.
For companies with non-sophisticated sales teams that don’t rely heavily on data or analytics (or won’t in the near future), Salesforce may not be necessary. There are likely more affordable solutions with mobile and remote/cloud capacities that offer a sufficient solution. However, if your business relies on data, and sophisticated sales information, Salesforce is the crown jewel.
The reason we find that the majority of companies latch onto Salesforce’s mobile application in particular, is simply because mobility is a prime feature that Salesforce built a lot of their business model around – ease of use and ease of accessibility to data. This functionality of Salesforce can complement nearly any selling, marketing, engineering (if integrated to an ERP) or transit process from a mobile device, perfectly.
Determine how many users will work remotely, and the type of data each person will need funneled to a mobile application. Salesforce leads the CRM space in data accessibility from a mobile device, however a small business working primarily on-premises most likely will not need the robust mobile offering of Salesforce at first, and won’t need to make the significant investment at that stage of growth.
Salesforce CRM fits: Integration
Some companies would be surprised to find that Salesforce CRM does actually do a nice job integrating with existing Microsoft applications. Salesforce can be easily integrated with Microsoft Outlook and MS Office tools, and the transition is somewhat seamless. In fact, earlier this year Salesforce announced its launch of Salesforce Files Connect, a new tool that integrates files from on-premises MS SharePoint into the company’s cloud workflow. This is significant for business users. A recent study from IDC – a global market intelligence firm – revealed 61 percent of users search files from four separate data sources in the course of their day to complete a single job.
Salesforce had an obligation to find a way to place all data sources into a single utility for users – specifically, Salesforce CRM. For example, data integrated between Salesforce CRM and SharePoint allows users to attach a spreadsheet, slide deck or research analysis to an item in CRM and can be easily displayed for a group or others in the organization. Additionally, this information can be queried from the Salesforce1 mobile application as easily as a desktop, combining the need for mobility, ease of accesses and interconnected data in one fell sweep.
Additionally, since Salesforce CRM is a cloud-only application, it is easily integrated using many of the common integration platforms; which means there are numerous connectors available on the market for enterprise software integration. There’s no need for lengthy on site integration processes or extra middleware. It can all be done through the web!
Consult with users to determine how they perform their job, where data is sourced from, length of time it takes to perform job, and have them provide suggestions on where data could be retrieved. This can mitigate the risk of an elongated decision making process at the C-Level.
Salesforce CRM fits: Reporting
Salesforce CRM owns a prolific reporting capability in comparison with others in the CRM space. It is very user-friendly, allowing everyday users to configure dashboards or specific reports based on their individual needs or role in a simplistic way. For example, a sophisticated selling department owning a data-driven strategy, and whom are heavily reliant on operational data, can create reports based on grouping. This is a bird’s eye view of quarterly revenue – coupled with – each enlisted selling member to determine the strength or weakness of the companies selling process, territory or individual contribution.
If reporting is strong consideration in your selection process, Salesforce may be a good fit. Likewise, if you have adopted a change solution in your organization to be more data-driven, Salesforce can support this type of business model and bring significant improvement to a selling pipeline.
Salesforce CRM fits: Certification and Compliance
Because Salesforce is the CRM market leader in reportage, many businesses invest in the software when it comes to managing enterprise content. This leads some companies to prematurely adopt the software without keeping the end-user in mind – i.e. providing them an end to end solution. While Salesforce does an excellent job of storing and securing enterprise content, in some special cases, the application lacks the permit to do so. In an example, a subcontractor of the aerospace community may require a DoD certification of their data storage utility (an area Microsoft Dynamics CRM has previously excelled). Unfortunately, Salesforce falls short in possessing this addendum. Furthermore, a majority of businesses have yet to migrate data to an instance of cloud-led technology due to uncertainty about security when it comes to cloud-based technology. Salesforce – and other cloud-based systems – provide complete security of enterprise content beyond the walls of the business. Their business is built on the success of the cloud, and the investment they make towards keeping your data secure ensures that you continue your subscription.
In both of cases, companies are more compelled to complete their end to end solution by leveraging their ability to maintain their compliance in highly regulated environments; as well as retain a secured perimeter around significant data of confidential clients in house.
Let specific certifications be the exception and not the rule. Not every enterprise requires these types of certified measures. Salesforce also makes it their mission to focus on securing the perimeter of data stored in the cloud. This is important for managing external partners, users and customers, and allows business to continue to operate even if a disaster recovery scenario presents itself. This is especially true if you are considering migrating significant data from a subsidiary to a parent entity.
During your selection process, be sure to consider all the angles of your business (location of operations, client type and compliance items, etc.) to determine if Salesforce CRM parallels those arrangements and will be able to do everything you will ask of the system. In many respects, Salesforce dominates the business software market. Yet, like every other technology, that does not mean that it is a one-size fits all solution for every type of business.
Investing in infrastructure is an emotional decision that should be considered by many in an organization. One of the best ways to mitigate these risks is to invest in having an expert assist you during selection and implementation. Datix has helped hundreds of businesses successfully navigate these projects. Contact one of our experts today to learn more about how we can help.