Three Business Considerations For Salesforce.com

Salesforce.com is one of many customer relationship management (CRM) systems on the market today.  A simple Google search will reveal the choices which abound.  It can be confusing as you are considering the technology to run your business processes.

In our Salesforce consulting work, many of our customers are seeking advice on whether to choose Salesforce.com or another CRM.  The truth is that there are several systems which will work based on clear requirements around your business process.  Typically, a Salesforce roadmap or Salesforce consulting will help clarify this issue as well.  Multiple software choices can enable the business process which comes from the roadmap.

It is easy to get into a feature comparison between systems.  However, from our work and perspective, the features are abundant.  CRM companies have to be rich in features just to be in the game today.  It is a mature market and the barrier to entry forces vendors to be competitive.

Furthermore, most companies do not utilize the full array of features.  Much like users of Microsoft Word, they use a small subset of what is available.  They use what they need to get things done.  In fact, too many features can be distracting and impede productivity, collaboration and selling.

Where technical analysis is required, we encourage this.  Let’s assume there is parity in features between today’s CRM systems.  Here are three business considerations we would offer:

  1. Salesforce.com is the leader.  The leadership position of a technology is important.  It provides a common platform which has many additional business benefits.  There is not a competitive second option to Facebook.  It is the platform where the world connects socially with friends and fans.  Likewise, Salesforce.com’s scale and user base creates commonality on the journey for business success.  The community around the technology affords a wealth of thought leadership, best practices and consultative advice.  From the user groups around the country to Dreamforce, you have extended support from the community.
  2. The ecosystem to grow with.  When you start, there will be some preliminary requirements which help to structure the system to work the way you need it.  As you and your team use Salesforce.com, there are inevitably new requirements.  You will want new functionality.  The AppExchange contains thousands of third-party applications.  Instead of the old days of custom development of software which was costly and timely, you can access what you need from a marketplace and plug and play.  This is highly strategic for growth.  Apps are available to help you automate more of your business as you use the system.
  3. The platform for development.  As you continue down the growth and adoption path, you may want to integrate with other business systems or websites.  With Salesforce.com Enterprise edition, scripts can be developed which work with the API (application programming interface) to automate your business processes.  This affords you to use Salesforce.com as a platform for integrating your entire business over time.  The opportunity to do this allows you to further leverage mission critical systems in your business to work with your CRM to support multiple processes.  Information can be shared across your business seamlessly this way.

These are some high-level reasons which can help frame your decision for a CRM system in terms of business strategy.  While you might entertain a cheaper option, the hidden costs can surface later as you seek to grow your use of the system without the inherent ecosystem and platform options that Salesforce.com has established as the leader.

We have implemented multiple CRM systems.  The technology is highly similar.  The business factors may be something which has added weight in your decision making.

What are some considerations you have for choosing a CRM system?  Feel free to comment below.

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