The essential part of running any business is keeping the sales figures as high as possible. In order to achieve that, the firm’s salesforce needs to ensure steady and continuous inflow of new clients and keeping the existing ones loyal and returning for more of your products or services. It is quite obvious that only happy and satisfied clients will come back to your company and will be willing to spend more of their money on whatever you offer. How can you help your salesforce achieve their sales targets and make sure that customers feel served well? The answer is simple – invest in high-quality Customer Relationship Management software (CRM). It will boost your profits, simplify your salesforce job and improve the customer service offered by your company.
What is CRM and how it all started
When you look at the way commerce looks now and what it used to look like about one hundred years ago, you will notice how many new opportunities and trends have emerged during that time. A lot of companies have developed from small local businesses into global giants acting on multiple markets and limited only by the Internet access and phone connection. Salesforce and customer service teams frequently need to cooperate with the headquarters or teams located in different countries. To ensure smooth flow of information regarding particular clients and full access to the history of interactions and their specific needs and requirements is necessary. And that is exactly where implementation of CRM e.g. Salesforce is immensely helpful.
To put it shortly, CRM is software or a web application containing tools that enable companies to focus on their clients and associates. In the old “pre-CRM” days firms could take one of the two possible ways of dealing with customers. They could either keep written records e.g. in folders – a solution that was only efficient in case of one-branch businesses and face-to-face contact with clients. It was also time consuming and there was danger of losing the data without possibility of restoring it. All paper-based tools – be it filing systems, rolodexes or ledgers had one major drawback. They could only be used by one person, in one location at the same time. It would also be difficult to imagine putting in comments while or just after dealing with the customer.
Another approach adapted frequently by companies was viewing their existing and potential clients impersonally. As it was impossible to record and act on all the singularities of a particular customer, salesforce would try to push sales up by targeting “demographics” – in other words a group of people having similar characteristics. Target groups were created on the basis of oversimplified stereotypes and very often failed to bring desired effects. The main reason for that was the fact that unique aspects of a given customer were often missed and it was hardly possible to present them with a suited or personalised offer.
Fortunately, the era of computers and digital technology started and all the tedious and oftentimes – ineffective tasks have been gradually shifted from manual systems to more technologically advanced ones.
A kind of a breakthrough took place in the mid-1980s when the first customer-focus software was developed. It was called CMS system (Customer Management System) and helped greatly in collecting, collating and organizing big amounts of data concerning customers. With the constant advancements in technology and more and more widespread use of personal computers numerous changes and improvements have been introduced to CMS systems resulting in their continued evolution. Most of them offered features like productivity programmes, emailing lists and contact management tools, which was quite a progress and a great leap in salesforce and customer teams’ work convenience. However, there was much more ahead to achieve in that field.
Another important evolutionary step in the CRM software development happened in the 1990s. Software developers shifted their focus from contact management system towards SFA – sales force automation. SFA still had all the functionalities of the old contact management systems but added the value of automating sales key tasks such as tracking of customer interaction. It was also at the same time when the term CRM began to be commonly used and most companies realized that proper customer relationship management is the key to success in business and should be focused on while drafting sales and development strategies. More and more organizations took it very seriously and started to invest money into developing CRM software. As it always is – more competition resulted in a greater selection of high-quality products being available. CRM systems offered wider range of tools and services and could be used to fully manage all aspects of customer relationships. Marketing, sales and customer service tasks could be coordinated better and individual needs and demands of particular customers addressed more precisely. Those factors inevitably led to greater time efficiency and increased effectiveness.
All the above improvements changed the daily work marketing teams, salesforce and customer service specialists. However, the greatest breakthrough was only about to come. With the introduction of the cloud and applying the technology in CRM software brand new dimension of opportunities appeared.
Salesforce in the cloud – the unparalleled gamechanger
The cloud is a general term used to describe utilization of computers in a network used to process data. The information processed is accessible from any computer in the world through the Internet connection and by means of web-based CRM applications. As the data is available for all the connected users at the same time, they can coordinate their activities and access easily constantly updated information. One more advantage of web-based CRM systems like Salesforce is the fact that companies that decide to implement it do not need to install and maintain costly in-house hardware. Acting on the planned customer service, marketing and sales strategies has become easier, cheaper and more convenient.
However, before companies see the extremely positive results of CRM implementation, they need to gain the knowledge regarding features, functionalities and capabilities of the software so that they understand its true value and use the full potential of the system for their own benefit.
Why is Salesforce the best choice for your business?
If your aim is to be the best and leave your competitors far behind, you will need a technological partner that will be able to keep up with you. Look no further – Salesforce is the synonym of innovation and the best quality. It is the first CRM functioning fully in the cloud. Since it was released almost 20 years ago it has become the global leader among CRM systems outrunning solutions introduced by other big players like SAP, Oracle or Microsoft. Salesforce developers keep on working and advancing their product and each year new functionalities are presented to the users. Among the most innovative are Salesforce Clouds – out-of-box applications. It is also worth noting that the applications are fully mobile.
Apart from its standard CRM Salesforce offers so-called Clouds. They are ready-to-implement applications with different profiles. The company offers clouds dedicated for managing sales – Sales Cloud, managing service desk tickets – Service Cloud, marketing actions can be coordinated by means of Marketing Cloud and automated with Pardot. More specialized applications are also available e.g. Health Cloud – an innovative tool to manage patients and their communication with doctors. Let us now have a closer look at the seven main clouds Salesforce is currently offering. They include Sales, Service, Marketing, Community, Analytics, App and Internet of Things. Each of them is accessible by means of the most common mobile devices like smartwatch, smartphone or tablet. Most of the clouds can also be integrated with each other.
Salesforce Sales Cloud is a fantastic tool that supports salesforce’s daily work. It allows to achieve much higher efficiency in the respect of contacts management, lead analysis and opportunity creating and processing. All the sales data can be used to generate reports that describe current situation and help run in-depth data analysis. Field sales representatives can also use Sales Cloud on their smartphones, e.g. register phone calls to the client, open new opportunities and look through reports. Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud integrate easily so sales and marketing actions can be coordinated to yield the best possible results. Sales Cloud users can also integrate it with their mailbox, calendar and contacts.
Salesforce Service Cloud simplifies managing tickets from internal employees and outside users. Live Agent module allows to converse in real time between the agent and the person reporting the issue. As Service Cloud is integrated with Community Cloud the agent has an easy access to the article base that can help in solving the problem quickly. The cloud can also be used in the field to open, process and close tickets – by means of a smartphone.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud is dedicated for marketing departments and helps manage advertisement campaigns and automate marketing processes. The Predictive Intelligence module uses historical data of particular users to prompt what kind of content will be most likely effective in their case. Advertising content can be sent through various communication channels – from traditional emails or text messages to push notifications. Marketing Cloud is integrated with Sales Cloud and Service Cloud so the behaviour patterns and preferences of particular target groups can be analysed even more thoroughly in order to personalise advertisement campaigns more efficiently.
Salesforce Community Cloud can be compared to Facebook. There is news wall, comment system and possibility to “like” something. Users can share knowledge by means of articles, take part in discussions on forums and share files that can later be accessed from any mobile device. Community Cloud can also be shared with customers and outside users which makes communication processes much easier. Additionally, it integrates with other Salesforce clouds.
Salesforce Analytics Cloud gives access to data from integrated Salesforce clouds, data from external sources and static data from the files. The cloud allows to visualise all the data in an effective and striking way which can be utilised in marketing actions. Is is integrated with Sales Cloud and Service Cloud so tasks like contacting the supplier or closing a ticket can be done from its level.
Salesforce App Cloud is a collection of tools that facilitate Salesforce apps creation. Users can also go to AppExchange store that offers applications and ready-to-use modules.
Salesforce Internet of Things is a cloud accepting data from any devices, allowing to process them at choice and acting upon received results. Processing of such a great amount of data is possible thanks to Salesforce Thunder – a data processing engine that operates in real-time.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to use or build Salesforce application. The only things you need are Internet access and web browser. There is no need to install any software or plug-ins to use the application. Particular screens come up as websites and all the actions are processed directly on Salesforce servers. What’s more, it is not necessary to install any development environment to build up the application. The Developer Console accessible from the web browser level is enough to create websites, components and classes.
Salesforce – friendly prices, tailored licenses
Salesforce offers four different licenses: Starter, Professional, Enterprise and Unlimited. The Starter licence allows to create basic applications and the more extended licences offer wider range of functions and capabilities necessary for more complex projects. Prices are set accordingly to the licenses and are calculated per one user monthly. Your company does not have to bear any additional costs of buying and maintaining servers or purchasing and implementing software updates.
Salesforce developers are very well aware that long gone are the days when work was only done on desktop computers in the office. That is why Salesforce is not only a desktop platform. It integrates easily with mobile devices like tablets, smartphones or even smartwatches. Processes started at work on your desktop or laptop can be continued on your smartphone while commuting home and finished on your tablet at home – as long as those devices are connected to the Internet. The applications can also integrate with social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Last but not least – Salesforce is closely integrated with Heroku – a cloud application platform that is compatible with many programming languages e.g. Java, PHP or Python.
Keep your data secure
There are numerous possible ways of securing the data kept in Salesforce. It can be done on many different levels: whole levels, specific records, individual fields or certain system users. The data itself is stored in an encrypted form on Salesforce servers located in several data centres in America, Asia and Europe.
Quick and easy training
It doesn’t take more than 2-3 weeks to train a person who has the basic programming knowledge, i.e they understand OOP, algorithmics and databases. If they additionally know Java and SQL the training period may be even shorter. It is sufficient time for a Salesforce developer to start to write and develop their own application and after some time – to work on more complex projects.
Salesforce Console – an app that will support your customer relationships management
As stated above, Salesforce is a CRM platform that operates in the cloud and offers a very wide choice of possibilities to personalize its performance and functionalities in accordance with the need of particular clients. It also has a range of standard products and functions delivered out-of-the-box. A good example of such a solution is Salesforce Console that allows you to manage customer relationships in the most efficient way.
Salesforce Console is a standard application that gives its users working space based on tabs. This solution has a major advantage over applications with the standard way of navigating. In Salesforce Console it is possible to work on multiple objects using a single screen. That makes searching, modifying processes or making new entries in the databases much faster and more convenient. Thanks to those features your salesforce and help desk personnel who contact the clients on daily basis will fall in love with this perfect tool.
Salesforce Console offers a range of facilities and additional functions that further simplify work and enhance client contacts opportunities. In the console footer you will find the history of the recently viewed main tabs. It is also possible to get the URL address for each of them. You can manage the list at your own discretion in the way most suitable for your organization. The designers made sure you can adjust the working space to your unique needs – it is possible to scale or minimize the record lists on the interface to make your daily tasks even simpler. Users can define their own hot keys best fitted to their individual needs. Main tabs can be sectioned off and conveniently displayed on a different part of the screen or on another monitor.
In a situation when Salesforce Console is used by help desk staff it is especially useful to integrate it with Salesforce Knowledge Base and Live Agent – real-time chatting box with clients. Salesforce Knowledge Base is a collection of articles including information about issues that help desk employees need to frequently deal with, e.g. descriptions of various processes or Frequently Asked Questions. These articles are written by actual Customer Support Personnel and shared within a given Salesforce application or spread more widely – it depends on the security settings in particular systems. The article base is accessible for service employees who can search through them using the topic of the current ticket. By default, documents not older than 30 days are searched through. However, it is possible to apply more advanced filters like category or language. Information included in a particular article may enhance greatly time and efficiency of solving the issue.
Live Agent – the real-time chat – can be used without closing the console down. That provides a lot more possibilities than standard emailing. Once the chat starts the service employee has access to the tab with all the information about the client they are talking to as well as to linked records e.g. contacts. Additionally, Live Agent offers access to FAQ section basing on keywords. It also allows to add attachments to sent messages or share articles from Knowledge Base.