Why choose Salesforce? An update for 2017

There’s one piece of content on our website that gets more hits than any other. It gets more hits than our homepage by a margin of over a 100%. It’s a blog post that we published over three years ago, and the title is pretty simple:-

‘Why Salesforce?’

Given the fact that 3 years is a long time in business technology, it comes as a surprise that people are still searching for the answer to this question. But they are.

You would also think that in the last three years, we would have changed our answer. Actually, our five reasons for loving Salesforce are all still relevant (cloud based, a great CRM, also much more than a CRM, fully configurable & of course, the AppExchange).

However, what our original blog post did not do was answer this question from a customer perspective. Why did they choose Salesforce for their organisation? So that’s what we did – we asked our current customers why they chose Salesforce. We spoke to a specialist furniture retailer; a telecoms provider; a B2B events & data company and an advisory body on educational technology. This is what they told us….

1) We needed to track our activity

The first message we heard, loudly and clearly, was that being able to track what was actually going on in a business was the top priority. Using reports and dashboards, this was where Salesforce delivers.

Graham, Excalibur Communications’ Technical Director explains, “We use dashboards heavily. Every morning I go through all of our sales and service dashboards. We can now track everything from the point that someone phones in with a lead, to how much they bill over a 24 or a 36 month period. In this way we can actually see the ROI from our various activities, whether that’s telesales, or from the website etc.”

Sales activity is also monitored more effectively at GDS International. Technical Project Manager Laura explains that their new CEO came from a Salesforce background and knew that the Salesforce platform would give the business the sales pipeline visibility they needed to monitor, adapt and improve. Again, better lead tracking was a key benefit as was the ability of being able to monitor processes and personnel so that departments were able to deliver on their KPIs .

It’s an ongoing process, ( “We are constantly refining our dashboards”). However, despite initial scepticism, the long serving sales are now really seeing the benefits of using salesforce to coach their teams. “They can understand where the pitfalls are. It just helps them to drive that journey really.” explained Laura.

Activity tracking is not just vital for sales teams, it plays a role in other areas of the organisation too. At the educational technology advisory body, Erin* and the CRM team have developed the platform so that their multi-sited team can collaborate effectively no matter where they are located. This kind of transparency is essential for this partially government funded body, and now they can report accurately and instantly across all of their accounts and account managers. “Salesforce lets us do all of that,” explains Erin.

Finally, CEO of Oaktree Mobility, Tom recognised that the inability to effectively track activity was a key drawback of their previous platform. “It was very linear.  Drilling down into data was impossible,” he explains. Now “Salesforce allows us to see trends now that would not be possible without a relational database. We can see behaviours of our customers.” Which leads us neatly onto our next point….

2) We are all data companies now

Activity tracking relies on one essential ingredient: data. Once this data is recorded in a structured way, new insights are available and new possibilities for organisations begin to open up.

Once organisations have data management down, then they are able to deliver a better service to their customers. Processes can be improved, changing customer needs acted upon. The fact that data is at the core of the modern digital business is summarised neatly in the words of Oaktree’s CEO:-

“We came to the conclusion that we are a mobility products company, but really what we do is we manage our data”.

Laura reports a similar story from GDS: data lies at heart of everything they do, with Salesforce providing “the central hub”. Describing data collection as being “embedded” within their strategy, the collected data is being recorded straight back to Salesforce resulting in a growing source of business information.

Of course having a mountain of data is great for gaining insight, but insight alone is not enough for businesses such as GDS, Oaktree, Excalibur and the educational tech advisory body to make better decisions and automate many of their businesses processes (which of course means better outcomes for customers, employees and the bottom line).  It’s the ability to act on this data-generated insight quickly and efficiently that makes them successful… and so to point no.3

3) Salesforce is so customisable and flexible

“For a company that experiments with processes, Salesforce is a much more flexible tool,” Tom, Oaktree Mobility

Tom’s team had learnt the hard way that bespoke systems are too rigid and linear to support change and flexibility. Instead, Salesforce allowed the business the chance to iterate, test, develop and improve continually – previously a distant dream with their existing off-shore development team.

“Salesforce, the flexibility and the ecosystem, the way you could change a process without a team of developers….that was me sold.”

Graham Ford echoes this statement, when he talks about the fact that at Excalibur they work in an ‘odd way’ in terms of a billing model that would not fit any ‘out-of-the-box’ configuration. Their CEO had seen Salesforce working well in other organisations that had atypical set ups, and new that it would work as “it was customisable and flexible.”

The flexibility to change and customise how things work within the platform was one message we heard loud and clear. However, it was also the flexibility of the platform in terms of integrating with existing systems that emerged as a very important influencing factor. Other leading platforms were considered “harder to customise” and not only that but “the integration piece is really difficult, for new and for existing systems”. Against the major competitors in the CRM platform space, Salesforce was considered the one that had the right level of flexibility to work alongside existing digital infrastructure.

4) Salesforce is totally different to any other platform out there

And that leads us neatly into the final point that we heard loud and clear – Salesforce is unique and unlike any other product on the market today. This is partly in terms of the flexibility it offers and the speed on which it can be developed upon; it’s partly to do with the fact that the platform itself constantly develops and offers new ways of working with customers and data. However this one real gamechanger remains the Salesforce AppExchange.

This was the turning point for Tom at the Salesforce World Tour London…

“Suddenly I understood that Salesforce is completely different to any other system out there, there is a massive ecosystem, solutions everywhere, there’s an app for everything on the AppExchange. That blew my mind.”

Launched in 2005, the AppExchange has a considerable head start on competitor platforms.  This online app marketplace offers a preconfigured solution to every conceivable challenge your business could throw your way. And if it’s not 100% set up the way you want it, no problem, this is Salesforce and even the off the shelf apps can be tailored to your requirements.

So to wrap it all up..

Three years later and the answer to the question “Why Salesforce?” from customers is not significantly different to the reasons we gave for choosing the platform.

What comes through loudly and clearly though from these accounts, it that the true benefits come when the platform is adopted business-wide. The reason these organisations have seen a great adoption rate is because the platform has been placed at the heart of their strategic direction.

Check in with us in 2020, and we’ll see where we are…



*Name changed for the purposes of anonymity

why choose salesforce
By Amy Grenham
8 March 2017
BusinessSalesforceThe Good Systems Blog

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