Salesforce CRM Review: The Complete Guide for 2019

When it comes to conversations about CRM software, there's one name that will always push to the front of the pack, and that's Salesforce CRM.

Probably the best-known customer relationship manager tool in the world today, Salesforce has a 20% market share in the current industry, making it the go-to solution for millions of businesses worldwide. The sheer number of third-party integrations, add-on options, and robust features that come packaged into the Salesforce solution means that it's one of the most unbeatable tools on the market. Not only that, but Salesforce is incredibly easy to use too, with a speedy powerful, and easy-to-customize UI.

Many of the companies that turn to Salesforce for their marketing solutions use it because they've outgrown their more lightweight or simplistic CRM software. While there are plenty of alternative options out there, few offer the same comprehensive functionality that comes with Salesforce. After all, for years, the software has been one of the most reliable strategies for comprehensive customer management, sales, and marketing.

Although Salesforce CRM has an excellent reputation, that doesn't necessarily mean that you should jump into using it without carefully considering all of your options. We've put together this Salesforce CRM review to ensure that you know everything there is to know about the tool before you spend your hard-earned cash.

Here's your complete guide to Salesforce.

Salesforce CRM: Introduction and Features

Salesforce is a cloud-focused software company that was founded around 2 decades ago in America, San Francisco. Currently, it's the market leader in CRM software, raking in more than $13 billion of annual revenue, and boasting about 150,000 customers worldwide. While Salesforce does dabble in other areas of the software market, it's best-known for its customer relationship management solution.

There are plenty of things about the Salesforce CRM that makes it a practical choice for today's companies, from its wide range of features, to the scalability of the offering. The Salesforce AppExchange even allows companies to build out entirely customized systems from start to finish. Customers of all shapes and sizes will struggle to find a product that offers this many solutions for customization.

salesforce cerm review - dashboard

πŸ‘‰ Alongside the opportunity to build in additional functionality, Salesforce also comes with a host of fantastic capabilities already included, such as:

  • A comprehensive business management ecosystem: Salesforce business products all seamlessly integrate. This means that companies can grow with Salesforce and gradually implement new features as they need to. You can try anything from Quip for collaboration, to the Salesforce Platform, Service Cloud, eCommerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Sales Cloud.
  • Easy access to data: Getting off the ground with Salesforce is simple thanks to the option to seamlessly import data from Google calendar, Gmail, excel spreadsheets, and a range of other sources.
  • Popular integrations: one of Salesforce's biggest advantages is how flexible it is. This translates to a lot of simple combinations through AppExchange. You can essentially combine Salesforce with just about any other part of your business process.
  • Trailblazer community: The Salesforce community is unlike anything else you'll find online today. It comes with all of the support you could ask for, including real step-by-step guides on everything from how to create custom reports, to where you can turn on customer notifications and more.
  • Robust productivity features: Another incredible strength of Salesforce comes in its pre-built product management features to help you keep your business running in perfect sync. Once implemented, these tools will ensure that your entire team has no time managing even the most complicated of workflows.

Salesforce CRM Pricing

Pricing on Salesforce is a little bit complicated, as the price you pay will depend on the kind of product you want to invest in. Ultimately, Salesforce provides a very granular experience for today's customers, which means that you don't have to pay for things that you're not interested in using.

If you go to the Salesforce pricing page, you'll find a range of options for how to pay for your Salesforce CRM.

salesforce crm reviews - options

πŸ‘‰ Here are some of the most common options:

Salesforce Small Business Essentials pricing:

$25 per user per month: Comes with customer support and sales support for up to 10 people, with guided onboarding and setup, the option to manage leads, accounts, and opportunities, and automatic tracking, among other features. You can also save time with customer self-service, create custom dashboards and reports, and so much more.

Salesforce Sales Cloud Pricing

The Sales Cloud comes with four different options to choose from, depending on how much support and power you need.

πŸ‘‰ Options include:

  • Essentials: $25 per user per month for account, lead, and opportunity management, as well as the Salesforce mobile app, and email integration.
  • Professional: $75 per user per month for everything in Essentials, plus collaborative forecasting and lead registration and lead scoring.
  • Enterprise: $150 per user per month for everything in Professional, plus workflow approval automation
  • Unlimited: $300 per month for everything in Enterprise, plus 24/7 support and configuration help.

πŸ’‘ You can also add additional components to your Salesforce Pricing with the Sales cloud, such as:

  • CPQ and billing support for $75 per user per month.
  • Sales Cloud Einstein for out-of-the-box automation and artificial intelligence for $50 per user per month.
  • Pardot for complete marketing automation starting at $1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts.

Salesforce Service Cloud Pricing

Salesforce Pricing for the service cloud is very similar to the Sales cloud, with the significant difference being that you're focused on the service you give your customers, rather than your Sales strategy.

salesforce service cloud pricing

πŸ‘‰ Options include:

  • Essentials: $25 per user per month for case management, service console apps, and knowledge
  • Professional: $75 per user per month for everything in Essentials plus Telephony integration and service contracts.
  • Enterprise: $150 per user per month for everything in Professional, plus web services APIs
  • Unlimited: $300 per user per month for everything in Enterprise, plus 24/7 support and configuration assistance

πŸ’‘ There's also the option to extend your experience with additional Salesforce pricing add-ons, such as:

  • Field service lightning for mobile operation management, starting at $50 per user per month.
  • Digital engagement to help you reach your customer on any channel from $75 per user per month.
  • Service Cloud Einstein for out-of-the-box analytics and artificial intelligence for $50 per user per month.

Salesforce Sales and Service Cloud Pricing

If you want the benefits of both Sales and Service cloud features at once, then your most cost-effective option will be to take the combined package for Sales and Service Salesforce Pricing. This gives you a complete overview of your customers with customer relationship management and sales tools combined.

Salesforce Sales and Service Cloud Pricing

πŸ‘‰ Options include:

  • Essentials: $25 per user per month for an account, contact, lead, and opportunity management, as well as service console apps and case management.
  • Professional: $100 per user per month for everything in Essentials, plus service contracts, and lead registration with rules-based scoring.
  • Enterprise: $175 per user per month for everything in Professional, plus APIs and automation.
  • Unlimited: $325 per user per month for everything in Enterprise, plus 24/7 configuration and support services.

πŸ’‘With the Sales and Service package, you can also add further extensions to your pricing structure, including Digital Engagement for $75 per user per month, and CPQ and billing for $75 per user per month. There's also access available for Field Service lightning at $50 per user per month.

Salesforce Lighting Platform Pricing

Most of the other Salesforce pricing options are available on a “per quote” basis. With that in mind, we'll let you explore them at your leisure, they include:

  • Salesforce Marketing
  • Ecommerce
  • Engagement
  • Integration
  • Analytics
  • Financial Services
  • Health Cloud
  • Communities
  • Enablement
  • Productivity
  • Success Plans
  • Advisory Services

One other option that's commonly chosen by Salesforce users is the Lighting Platform, which simply gives you the power to extend the abilities of your Salesforce CRM to every process, app, and employee. The Lighting platform starts for $25 per user per month, with the option for app building, integrations, company-wide collaboration, and access to Einstein artificial intelligence. You can also upgrade your plan to “Plus” for $100 per user per month.

For unlimited access to all of the features in the app-building solution, you'll need to request a quote from the Salesforce team.

Salesforce CRM Review: Sales Cloud

At this point, the Salesforce CRM experience is so comprehensive that it's difficult to cover everything in one review. That's why we're focusing on some of the most popular options, to begin with. For instance, perhaps the most commonly sought-after aspect of Salesforce, is it's Sales Cloud – the CRM that helps business agents to manage leads and close conversions.

πŸ‘‰ Features of the Salesforce Sales Cloud include:

  • Account and contact management: Assess every aspect of your target market with insights into their customer journey. View key contacts, internal account discussions, customer communications, and social media overviews within Salesforce.
  • Opportunity management: See quotes, stage, products, and other aspects of potential deals within Salesforce so you can stay connected to every crucial part of your conversion cycle.
  • Lead management: Track leads in your pipeline from initial awareness to close, while continually viewing analytics that allows you to optimize your campaigns.
  • Sales data: Use state of the art artificial intelligence from Salesforce to make crucial decisions about your sales strategies based on real insights.
  • Mobile: Turn your mobile device into a sales office on the go with the option to log calls, respond to leads, establish work opportunities, check dashboards, and more, no matter where you are.

πŸ’‘The Salesforce Sales Cloud is also fantastic at helping companies to keep track of and manage their sales teams, with features like:

  • Workflow and approvals with drag-and-drop workflow management.
  • File sync and share to keep your employees informed wherever they are
  • Reports and dashboards for in-depth views of your business at a glance
  • Sales forecasting for a real-time view into your team's performance levels

The Sales Cloud environment from Salesforce is available on any device, anywhere, thanks to the flexibility of the cloud. It gives teams the power they need to manage sales and close leads faster than ever before.

Salesforce CRM Review: Service Cloud

The service cloud is one of the other go-to solutions in the Salesforce CRM portfolio. While your Sales cloud is there to help you find and convert customers, the Service solution is what you need to maintain and build relationships with those clients. Through service cloud, you can provide your customers with the most efficient and fast-paced customer service available.

πŸ‘‰ Features include:

  • Agent insights: Make sure your team members can access all the information they need for a complete overview of every buyer journey.
  • Self-service portal: Help customers find answers with access to account information, knowledge articles, step-by-step instructions, and one-to-one chat assistance.
  • Omnichannel support: Make sure that you're ready to reach your customers on the channels that they love most with mobile messaging, social media, webchat, and more.
  • Streamline operations: Make sure that you can provide each agent with the individual support that they need to transform sales cycles.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Empower agents and customers alike with self-service AI, support-based bots, and so much more.

πŸ’‘Within the Salesforce Service CRM, you'll also have access to a wealth of reporting and analytics features to ensure that you can make the most of your future business decisions with informative behind-the-scenes data. Analytics options include:

  • Dashboards for data visualisation across multiple panels, giving you a more detailed insight into your sales performance in a format that's easy to understand.
  • Forecasting so that you can view projects of sales revenue based on historical data and market survey, trend, and sales analysis.
  • Cross-channel Reporting: Establish and view in-depth reports across your marketing, sales, and customer support efforts within a single unified environment.

The overall purpose of the Service cloud is to support your agents in making better customer service decisions; this leads to stronger customer satisfaction, better brand loyalty, and even bigger chances of repeat customers in the long-term.

Salesforce CRM Review: Marketing Cloud

With Sales and Service already accounted for, there's only one thing left to transform your entire business operations lifecycle: marketing. Sales helps you convert your customers, while service retains those clients for future purchase. However, it's marketing that draws attention to your brand, products, and services in the first place.

salesforce marketing cloud

πŸ‘‰ The marketing cloud from Salesforce is all about helping you get to know your customer and personalize your advertising according to their needs. Features include:

  • Cross-channel data: Get to know your customers by collecting insights from multiple sources throughout the buyer journey. Capture first, second, and third-party insights for better growth.
  • Personalize the journey: Leverage both artificial intelligence and your data to orchestrate highly personalized integrations. Respond to customer intent and demand with unique marketing experiences.
  • Omnichannel engagement: Make sure that you're there to connect with your audience on any channel with real-time engagement from awareness through to advocacy.
  • Analytics: Measure just how effective your marketing campaigns are with in-depth analytics designed to help you understand the ROI of your various channels.
  • B2C and B2B: Whether you're looking for assistance with business customers or everyday consumers, Salesforce is here to help with a world-class digital platform for end-to-end relationship management.

πŸ’‘The Salesforce exclusive partnership with Google Analytics 360 also means that you can collect insights like never before from countless points within your digital presence.

Salesforce has even gone above-and-beyond with the opportunities it offers to get to know your audience on a deeper level, with the delivery of Audience Studio. Previously known as Salesforce DMP, the Audience Studio unifies your captured data for you, so that you can better understand the different components of each buyer journey.

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Combining your data from every source ensures that you end up with a more comprehensive overview of where your customers are and what they need from you. What's more, with access to machine learning tools, you'll be able to segment your audience more accurately and efficiently, using state-of-the-art device graphs to understand each client's unique footprint across every touchpoint.

Salesforce CRM Review: eCommerce

If you're looking for specific support for your eCommerce strategy, then Salesforce has you covered there too. The Salesforce “Commerce Cloud” is designed to give you tailor-made support for either B2B or B2C selling, depending on the nature of your company. Both versions of the commerce cloud offered by Salesforce are priced on a per quote basis. However, they both come with access to countless features, including product, pricing, and catalog management, campaign and contact management, social integrations, multiple payment methods, and more.

πŸ‘‰ Some of the most exciting features of the Commerce cloud include:

  • Commerce Cloud Endless Aisle: Offer limitless choice for your customers and avoid missing sales with a state-of-the-art digital commerce solution that extends in-store.
  • Cloud order management: Deliver seamless service, buy, and fulfill anywhere experiences for shopping across every channel.
  • Unify the buying experience: Unify the complete buying experience across multiple channels with a comprehensive view of all orders, activity, inventory, and more.
  • Convert mobile shoppers: Make the most of the growing demand for mobile commerce with a suite of mobile-first functionality solutions, including optimized micro-moments, responsive design, and one-touch payment.
  • Conquer intelligent personalization: Convert and inspire more customers with a highly unique and personalized AI-powered experience.
  • Connect commerce across all functions: Share data and collaborate across service and sales to connect every moment in the customer relationship experience.
  • Create international sales strategies: Launch new sales opportunities around the world with unified multi-site management and built-in site localization.
  • Scalable solutions: Make sure that you're always ready to offer the next-level customer experiences your customers need with scalable multi-tenant cloud experience.

πŸ’‘The proven success model from Salesforce Commerce cloud also means that you can tap into special services from the company to help you plan your entire strategy. There's a wide range of unique services available to help you excel every step of the way, including site readiness assessments, dedicated success management, and strategic guidance on-call.

Those interested in learning more about how to make the most of their Commerce solution can also join the Trailblazer community for countless chances to evolve and learn.

Salesforce CRM Review: Intelligent Lead Nurturing with Pardot

Salesforce CRM provides one of the most comprehensive portfolios of unique sales and marketing opportunities available today. That's one of the reasons why it's the leading CRM on the market. One of the more modern features available from Salesforce today is its robust automation strategy, “Pardot,” designed for B2B sales.

The Pardot solution from Salesforce takes the manual labor out of everyday sales and marketing initiatives so that you can speed up the performance of your sales cycle.

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πŸ‘‰ The features of Salesforce Pardot are intended to give you more control over your sales cycle, without the extra work or manpower. You can:

  • Access intelligent lead nurturing: Automatically perform marketing tasks and send unique emails to leads based on triggers like user interactions and time.
  • Send personal messages: Use dynamic content inspired by data to personalize the customer experience every step of the way, with targeted offers and unique email paths.
  • Real-time alerts: You'll always be ready to connect with customers at the right moment through real-time alerts about prospect actions
  • Overview of prospect activity: Make sure you can see in-depth data about your prospect's journey every step of the way.
  • Landing pages and forms: Improve engagement with templates for landing pages and forms that can take on your personal branding
  • Deliver superior email marketing: Build state-of-the-art email campaigns and send them automatically according to unique triggers.
  • Access paid and organic search: Implement SEO and SEM programs to boost the ROI of your campaigns.
  • Build webinars and events: Improve your brand reach by expanding your sales opportunities at events and webinars.

Salesforce Pardot also gives you plenty of data that you can use to make informed decisions going forward, including lifecycle reporting and insights supported by artificial intelligence.

Salesforce CRM Review: Analytics and Reporting

salesforce reports

One of the things that makes Salesforce so impressive, aside from its vast selection of features to suit virtually any business, is that it gives you access to so much data. Up-to-date CRM data is crucial in making decisions about your company's future. You can discover endless new insights from Salesforce, which allow you to:

  • Segment your audience intelligently with AI insights driven by billions of data signals across various customer actions and attributes.
  • Analyse unlimited event-level data to understand your customer journeys and improve their chances of conversions.
  • Time customer journeys perfectly with insights into the perfect times to engage and attempt sales.
  • Use Einstein technology to drive data science. Artificial intelligence will ensure that you can unlock information you would never have found manually.

πŸ’‘On top of that, every unique component of the Salesforce architecture also comes with access to its own immersive reporting and analytics tools. This means that every step of the way, you can ensure that you're getting the most out of your investment with:

  • Salesforce Productivity: Powered by Quip, the Salesforce productivity service allows you to create collaborative spreadsheets, documents, and slides that help your employees to connect.
  • Salesforce Communities: With Community Cloud, you can build powerful CRM experiences from start to finish with unique templates that suit your target audience.
  • Salesforce Philanthropy: Find the charitable opportunities that will help your organization to thrive, enable volunteering, and get an overview of your progress towards your goals.
  • Salesforce Healthcare: Get a complete view of your patient, with insightful opportunities for connections and support on any device.
  • Salesforce financial services: Create a unique opportunity to grow your business options with supercharged advisor productivity and personalized access to advice on any device.
  • Salesforce Engagement: Create and implement custom apps connected to Salesforce and get them into market faster through the Heroku cloud services solution.

To help you make the most out of your Salesforce Experiences, there's even access to the myTrailhead learning platform, so you can learn more about each of the tools available in the Salesforce portfolio as you go. These courses included everything from help with onboarding to boosting productivity and increasing Salesforce adoption.

Salesforce CRM Review: Customer Service

salesforce customer service

So, with so many amazing products and features to offer, the question comes down to whether Salesforce can give you the experience that you're looking for from your customer relationship management tool. One of the critical components of that is making sure that you have access to plenty of assistance from Salesforce experts.

The good news is that there are plenty of DIY opportunities available for those who are willing to learn and grow themselves using the Salesforce Community and Trailhead courses. You can easily learn how to do just about anything on Salesforce without ever having to connect with a member of staff.

However, if you do want to reach out to the Salesforce Team, then you'll have a few options. Either you can fill out your contact information on the company's online form, and wait for someone to get back in touch, or you can call Salesforce directly.

There are also a few options available for instant chat on the Salesforce website too. However, it can be challenging to find someone that's online.

Despite its incredible success at making companies more effective at managing customer relationships, Salesforce is quite slow when it comes to supporting its own customers. You can expect to wait quite a while before you get a response to your questions via email, which is quite surprising.

Of course, there are other opportunities available for support if you're in a hurry, so you don't have to wait around unless you're willing to do so.

Salesforce CRM Limitations

Salesforce is honestly one of the most powerful CRM platforms you'll find on the market. There's very little limit to what you can do with it, thanks to products that are designed to support every touchpoint of the customer journey. However, even the most popular CRM in the world has a few limitations that are worth being aware of.

For instance, Salesforce isn't cheap – particularly if you want to access multiple components of the cloud, such as Community, Sales, Marketing, and Service at the same time. You may also need to pay for additional add-ons if you want to get the most out of the platform. The more you add into your Salesforce pricing, the more the contracts with the company can get out of hand. Users on Salesforce often say that they end up feeling confused about what they can genuinely do with the platform, and what they need to pay extra for.

Another major problem to consider with Salesforce is that access to dozens of complicated features means that there's no end to the learning curve. You're going to need to be committed to continually learning how to use and master each tool in your roadmap. That's one of the reasons why there are so many Salesforce professionals joining businesses around the world today. Salesforce actually offers certifications and training for people who figure out how to use certain parts of the platform effectively.

Even if you do manage to get the hang of the tools that you're using, it's worth noting that the interfaces in most cloud environments are quite cluttered and complicated, which makes them also quite time-consuming to use.

If all of that wasn't stressful enough, it's also important to recognize that Salesforce seriously lacks when it comes to customer service. Ultimately, you really need to be able to go out and learn by yourself if you want to get the most of this solution. It's very difficult to get information on anything without going and taking part in various training courses, which means that you're going to need a Trailhead account if you want to get started.

Salesforce CRM: The Verdict

The Salesforce CRM is the best and most popular CRM in the industry for a reason – It provides functionality like nothing else we've ever seen in the market, with countless ways to grow and develop your relationship management strategy. However, it's not the easiest thing you'll ever adopt for your business. This is the kind of tool you're going to need to have one person or a team of people dedicated to using in your organization.

πŸ‘ Pros:

  • Comprehensive tools for every aspect of the buyer journey
  • Omnichannel customer support
  • Sales and marketing expertise
  • State-of-the-art reporting and analytics
  • Artificial Intelligence integration
  • Endless integration with third-party tools

πŸ‘Ž Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Serious learning curve
  • Not great customer service

 

Salesforce CRM Rating: 4.0 - Review by