Salesforce was formed as a company in 1999 by 3 former Oracle Software executives to be a software as a service project management solution. The company is currently transitioning to an application development as a service business. Salesforce's strategy is to provide its customer base with social CRM tools, platform development tools, and an online ecosystem of integrated third-party solutions to help businesses connect with their customers in new ways.
Salesforce is used by all business sizes and types worldwide. The Salesforce software company headquarters are located in San Francisco, California. The company has a market capitalization of $50 billion and employs over 10,000 people.
- Free trial
- Multiple dashboards
Salesforce offers 4 pricing plans to meet the needs of its customer base: Group, Professional, Enterprise, and Unlimited. The Group plan provides basic marketing and sales tools for up to 5 users at $25 monthly per user. The plan includes task and opportunity tracking, account and contact management, customizable reports, lead scoring and assignment and Outlook Sync. The Professional plan costs $65 per user monthly and provides to unlimited users collaborative forecasts, customizable dashboards, campaigns, and mass emails. This plan is best for small businesses, but can feel more expensive when compared to similar software platforms in the marketplace.
The Enterprise plan shows exactly why Salesforce shines bright in the project management solution marketplace. This plan includes the features provided in the previous plans and adds report history tracking, custom app development, enterprise territory management, and workflow and approval automation. Users can create their own corporate app store with the Salesforce Private AppExchange. The plan is priced at $125 monthly per user with an annual subscription.
One of the two final choices offered is the Unlimited plan at $250 per user monthly with an annual subscription. This plan gives users multiple sandboxes, custom apps, 24/7 support, and unlimited training and customizations. The last choice is the Performance plan that offers Service Cloud to users at $300 month with an annual subscription per user. Salesforce offer a test drive 30-day free trial to consumers with no credit card requirements.
The free trial prompts new users to reveal what role they have in the organization they are using the software for. These prompts help Salesforce customize the tour of their product to show relevant features for the new user. The dashboard screen lists a series of walkthrough tasks the user should perform. A Getting Started tab on main screen takes users to the user guide and a video tutorial as well as links for downloading the mobile app.
One nice feature in Salesforce is the ability to have multiple dashboards. Each one can be assigned its own data set. The sales dashboard displays current pipelines by product families, neglected accounts, and recent sales activity. Marketing executives get a comprehensive overview of unpent marketing dollars, leads by quarter, top marketing channels, and current pipelines by account type.
- Overwhelming interface
Salesforce is more expensive than other similar CRM project management software platforms on the market. However, the software is feature-rich and fully customizable. Smaller businesses may not find it affordable for their needs. Salesforce does not provide a service level agreement with its contract, unless a customer asks or negotiates to get it. These agreements are crucial as forms of assurance to customers that the CRM vendor will be held to a specific system uptime level. Most of these service level agreements are financially backed, which means users will receive a credit if the standards set forth in the contract are not met.
The dashboard in Salesforce can be a bit overwhelming at first for new users. The user interface contains multiple tab options for various features. New users will benefit immensely by taking advantage of the product tour and walkthrough features. The page can be fully customized to personal preferences as well to make using the interface easier.
Salesforce tried to unsuccessfully apply the trademark term "social enterprise" in the United States, European Union, and Jamaica in 2012 to describe businesses that serve a social purpose primarily. A campaign called #notinyourname challenged the software company's use of the term. Salesforce was forced to withdraw its trademark application and officially agree to never use the term in future marketing efforts.
An employee of Salesforce was the victim of a successful phishing attack in 2007. The contact information of a number of Salesforce's customers was compromised. These customers then received a number of unwanted phishing emails. The attack served as an excellent example for the need for greater security for users in the CRM industry against threats.
The company has also received numerous criticisms regarding its integrated environment for developers. Critics have cited numerous concerns with the lack of support for developers as well as problems controlling revisions and speed. Developers also state the company fails to separate Salesforce from its Force.com platform. Developers desire to use Force.com as a stand-alone product, but are unable to do so due to the way the company has integrated the two platforms.
The Bottom Line
Salesforce is an industry leader with its powerful CRM service project management solution. The company's software combines an online ecosystem of integrated third-party solutions with social CRM and platform development tools for businesses globally to better connect with their customer base. The company is currently transitioning its focus to becoming an application development as a service business. The company provides a free 30-day trial for those who want to try out Salesforce's features for their own business needs.
The company is strong in its field with 6+ years in the industry and a market capitalization of $50 billion annually. Well-known brands such as the American Red Cross, Virgin America Airlines and Stanley Black & Decker are satisfied customers of the Salesforce software platform.