Is Salesforce the right CRM for your startup?
By Andy Mason
With a relatively affordable out-of-the-box solution, a vast array of capabilities, and a strong reputation in the market, Salesforce is widely considered one of the more accessible CRM options for new companies and small businesses. But committing to a CRM system is a big step for any growing enterprise; it’s important to consider exactly why you need to make this investment and what you can gain by doing so.
Why startups need a CRM system
A CRM (or customer relationship management) is a system which allows businesses to store and manage their customer and prospect data. Beyond that, many companies will leverage their CRM in different and unique ways by focusing on different end goals. This could range from managing interactions and leads to trying to get ahead of your customer and predict their next step.
1. Customer centricity
A bulletproof understanding of your customer is crucial to success, no matter what your business offering may be. Your ability to manage relationships, both new and existing, is imperative for a successful startup business. A good CRM should function as a tool to help you understand your customer and put them first.
A customer-centric mindset is especially important for startups and smaller organizations. At this early stage, an enterprise is most vulnerable to negative customer experiences affecting their business. It’s also the period in which you’re still proving yourself and building trust with your audience. This means your customer experience has to be at its best.
By having control of data and interactions, this task becomes infinitely easier. A solid CRM software can make tasks such as mapping each point of contact and organizing your time and marketing efforts much simpler.
A CRM platform will help with one of the biggest issues many startups face: scalability. Salesforce says that 70% of startups struggle with scalability which, in turn, leads to an unstable foundation. The inability to grow will always be detrimental to any business.
Even if you are part of a business operating with minimal resources, this should never become apparent to your customers. Communication must be kept seamless even if you’re being worn thin.
As you grow your customer base, you may struggle to give larger numbers the attention they deserve. This is where technology can really save you. Creating one singular hub of communication that collates all customer touchpoints, from sales interactions to email communication, can help you grow with limited resources. A good platform could also allow you to automate interactions or give you reminders that could aid your retention efforts whilst equally nurturing new leads.
3. Saving time and resources
Startups are more than likely facing the problem of ‘so little time, so much to do’. Although it may initially seem like pumping precious money into something where you don’t see an immediate ROI, a CRM will ultimately help your team act more efficiently and avoid making errors which could be detrimental to your operations. Saving time is so paramount to a startup and is one of the largest returns a business can see.
Why Salesforce stands out
From the company’s corporate social responsibility to its gender equality drive, Salesforce is thriving in the public eye. Investing in a company demonstrating such consistent growth adds security to your own business’s operations.
Its free online learning platform, Trailhead, also makes it really easy to learn about the software without having to invest a huge amount of time into training. The game-style learning makes it simple to roll out across teams who have little experience with Salesforce or other CRMs.
Furthermore, according to the latest Salesforce salary survey, the top three reasons for implementing a product from Salesforce are the functionality on offer, moving to the cloud, and a lack of confidence in a previous CRM system.
The Appexchange is one of the world’s largest and leading business application marketplaces. A collection of apps and components adapted for Salesforce, businesses can browse and harness countless tools to help improve their capabilities.
The Appexchange works much like the Apple or Google Play Store, where users can download and install apps with the benefit of customer ratings and reviews. You can also download free and paid apps, making it more appealing to a range of companies with varying budgets. Developers can submit their own apps too, allowing for a more open-source approach.
The greatest benefit of the Appexchange for startups is its accessibility; expansion of the platform is fairly straightforward with a number of free apps on the marketplace.
Top Salesforce products for startups
You’ve settled on the fact that your growing business needs to manage its customer data, but what products in the Salesforce portfolio are suitable for you?
With such a wide-ranging portfolio, it can be difficult to know where to start. Armed with such an unrestricted capability to scale and adapt, Salesforce’s options are vast. Here are two highly-rated products we think meet the different needs that a startup may face:
Salesforce Sales Cloud
This is used for creating a team-wide, transparent sales process. Often a solid starting point, the Sales Cloud can be scaled to meet the needs of a growing startup. With many features to harness, including Einstein, the Sales Cloud can help you track leads, manage existing conversations with your customer base, and control overall communication both future and past.
Salesforce says its customers see a 32% improvement in win rate through Sales Cloud. Additionally, Sales Cloud can increase sales productivity by 40% and increase sales revenue by a staggering 32%.
There is a basic three-tiered pricing structure for the out-of-the-box solution. Try to consider implementation and customization costs in your planning as these can result in some higher upfront costs.
Salesforce Service Cloud
A CRM isn’t always strictly about sales. Salesforce can also provide startups that manage a service for their customers with a tool for tracking communication and managing service operations.
Customer experience is of utmost importance for a business offering customer support. Having the ability to tailor customer care to each individual can ultimately help to improve your service. Complaints falling through the cracks could become a thing of the past as connecting remote and in-house teams is made simpler.
One of the highlights of the Service Cloud is the Communities feature. Communities helps to create portals where customers can communicate issues with each other to resolve queries whilst the forum is monitored and controlled by your team. This could save a significant amount of time and help build the reliability of your brand, making you even more accessible.
Much like the Sales Cloud, the cost of Service Cloud is spread over three tiers. Service Cloud pricing starts at $75 per user, per month for the Lightning professional version moving to $150 per user, per month for the Lightning Enterprise edition, and finally $300 for the Lightning Unlimited version which gives you access to unlimited CRM power.
There are many more solutions on offer from Salesforce and it’s worth exploring the portfolio of products and solutions to learn what you could potentially harness both immediately and long-term.
Being a small enterprise doesn’t mean you have to behave small. Buying into a good CRM solution will allow you to handle customer data like a big business as you grow into one. While Salesforce is just one of the potential solutions for startups, it’s widely regarded as one of the best, and there has never been a better time to implement it.