Product Review: Salesforce.com
BY FABRIZIO BALESTRI
Salesforce.com is the worldwide leader in on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) services. More companies trust their vital customer and sales data to Salesforce.com than any other on-demand CRM company in the world. In my past work leading national sales forces for segment-leading organizations, I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand the power that Salesforce.com can bring to a dynamic selling team.
1. WHO SHOULD BE USING SALESFORCE.COM?
Salesforce.com’s sales force automation tool should be used by any organization that wants to transform itself from a company of business units or departments into a single-minded efficient and productive entity. By changing the way your team communicates throughout your organization, you will literally transform the way business gets done.
2. WHY SHOULD THEY BE USING IT–WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC WAYS IT CAN HELP DRIVE SUCCESS?
With user-friendly tools and an intuitive structure, Salesforce.com allows companies to clearly articulate goals, objectives, strategies and tactics, and measure successes against those goals in real time.
An example from personal experience, while working with national student loan company Student Loan Xpress: we first installed Salesforce.com in 2005, with a goal of improving how our sales team communicated and tracked its marketing efforts. We were fortunate enough to customize the tool to fit our unique needs, so the system clearly stated and measured everything we wanted to track, from sales goals to sales calls, performance-to-date to performance-year-over-year, etc. Basically it measured the key areas we needed to track for success.
From management’s point of view, the benefits were obvious. Immediately, a manager could start his or her day by looking at a snap shot of the business, with endless customization options. One of the most important features from my perspective as a CEO was being able to keep a close eye on key accounts and view them within seconds. How many times have accounts been lost because management was unaware of problems that lower level staff were unable to satisfy, yet were afraid to elevate for resolution? In addition, Salesforce.com also provided ongoing reminders of scheduled contacts and follow-ups on important issues. I could easily document my efforts for anyone to see, which allowed our reporting to be transparent, providing access and information up and down the management ladder.
3. HOW DID SALESFORCE.COM MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR YOU?
Salesforce.com is not simply about measuring the productivity of your company’s sales organization. It brings the entire organization into the mix from the CEO to the administrators. Salesforce.com can also provide a 360-degree view into an organization. Picture a transparent sphere or ball if you will. The entire organization is inside this sphere moving as one towards a same set of goals. Any employee—including executives, marketing professionals, sales reps, accountants and technical people—can step outside the sphere and look in, easily finding the information he or she needs about one or many accounts.
Make no mistake, Salesforce.com is not just a simple tool that can be used to measure sales rep productivity; it’s a tool that allows employees to measure each other. Imagine an organization where the employees can hold each other accountable. An organization where everyone can see not only success, but also shortcomings in real time, with the opportunity to step in to help.
For example, consider a sales rep who is struggling with a particular deal. A caution flag is raised and anyone along the support chain can provide whatever assistance is needed. It could be the CFO making suggestions on pricing changes, or the marketing team offering ideas on creativity and how the client can benefit from it.
Bottom line, Salesforce.com can help take your organization from a group of individuals to a cohesive unit—delivering demonstrable results. Within an extremely short time after launch, we were able to increase our sales per employee by more than 20 percent, while improving overall client satisfaction from 88 percent to almost 95 percent.