PROS / Salesforce has a clean design that is easy to navigate.
CONS / It's difficult to get a hold of live support.
VERDICT / Salesforce's complete package brings all your contact management, sales and marketing, and employee-tracking needs into one central place.
Keeping track of all the information your company needs to keep running and experience growth is hard work. CRM software is created to help bring all that information together into one place. Unfortunately, many of these programs are so cluttered trying to stuff every function imaginable in them that they become hard to navigate. Salesforce has set the standard for customer relationship management software, creating a beautiful and easy-to-navigate system that lets you keep track of your company info and easily see how each part is organized. Salesforce is hands down the best CRM software and our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner.
Salesforce is cloud based, so all of your information is saved on its server, which means your valuable computer space isn’t bogged down with too much data and multiple users networked to it. It also means you don’t have to worry about troubleshooting, because Salesforce’s IT department is always on top of it for you. Be aware that an on-premise option is not available, so you won't be able to host your CRM software on your own database.
When creating a new contact, you have the option to designate whether the individual is one of 10 customer types, including an investor, press representative, perspective client or even a competitor. You can mark each individual contact and task as private, so only you can see it, or allow all CRM users to access the information. This is especially useful for protecting sensitive information involving investors or acquisitions that should not be made public.
In order to create a new contact, first you must create a company account with a designated account number. After the account is created you then can enter a new customer and their information, and connect them to the existing company account. This extra step can be frustrating when you need to enter new contact information quickly.
When you add contacts into the CRM, you have the option to allow other employees and departments access to the information and receive periodic reports on activities on the account. This allows support personnel the ability to track customer complaints, financial advisors to see payment history and IT specialists to see what attempts have been made to help solve problems. It also is invaluable for managers as they conduct performance evaluations of their employees.
You can tailor the viewing fields so that they display information that makes sense to you and your job functions. You can filter contacts and file account information by name, department or sales campaigns to make it easier to find what you are looking for, or you can group important contacts and information together by project.
If you already have a contact saved in another CRM program, in Outlook or even in an Excel spreadsheet, you can easily import that information directly into Salesforce. From within Salesforce, you can dial clients, email responses or even send out mass emails informing clients about upcoming events or press releases. Salesforce keeps track of emails that bounce back and accounts that have multiple contacts, and it can be set to send out automatic replies to specific client groups.
Salesforce can also sync to your Outlook. This allows any communication that happens through Outlook to be saved and shared with Salesforce.
Sales & Marketing
While any CRM software’s main function is organizing and tracking customer interactions, some of the best programs also track sales and marketing tasks. Not only does Salesforce have these important sales and marketing features, they are automatically included in the CRM program, so you don’t have to pay extra for these capabilities.
You can use Salesforce CRM software to generate leads. As you enter in contact information, you can designate how you met that individual – whether it was during a conference, at a tradeshow or during the plane ride on your last business trip. Salesforce allows you to easily filter contacts so that those with similar interests are grouped together. These contacts can then be used as targets for effective marketing campaigns and to generate additional leads, contacts and business deals.
Any type of report that you may need to generate can be done right within Salesforce CRM. Activity reports, lead reports, sales reports, best practice reports, call center reports and many more are automatically generated with a few clicks of a button. You can choose which reports are made public, which remain private and which can be shared with only a handful of important individuals.
You can use Salesforce CRM to keep track of the employees assigned to each client or task to ensure they are finding solutions and interacting appropriately. The group calendar allows everyone to see which tasks have been assigned to each employee, while reports show if customer concerns were addressed quickly by support personnel. These task reports are valuable in determining where the weak links are and in employee performance reviews.
Within the Salesforce CRM is a great tool called Chatter. Chatter lets you create your own social media-type network through the CRM that lets your employees connect, learn more about the uses of the Salesforce CRM, and bounce ideas for marketing campaigns and competitive strategies. You can create specialized groups, such as sales, marketing and Q&A sections, where employees can post questions and search through libraries of information that you and others share.
Each individual user has the option to create a personal profile. These profiles can include pictures, contact information such as email addresses and phone numbers and any Chatter groups they have joined. Just like other social media outlets, the Salesforce profile has a newsfeed that shows recent activity by that employee, including customer service issues they have addressed, follow-up emails they have sent and sales agreements they have closed. These profiles maybe marked as private and used for employees to track their own progress or made public for the entire workforce to see each other’s achievements.
Ease of Use
The design of Salesforce CRM is very clean, easy to navigate and appealing. There aren't too many tabs, data fields or cluttering text. Instead, the view windows have just the information you need for that task with additional tabs along the top that make it easy to toggle between the tasks that you need.
With the Salesforce mobile app, you can connect to your CRM software while on the go. If you are out trying to close a deal, you can access Salesforce to view a history of your interaction with that client or investor to help you with your sales pitch. If you meet new potential customers, it's easy to input their information and create new contact accounts from your cell phone, tablet or other mobile device.
The pay scale for Salesforce’s services is a little difficult to follow. Not only is there a monthly per-user fee, Salesforce also places a cap on how many users, customer contacts and sales campaigns you can have. If you need more, you will have to pay additional costs each month.
Help & Support
One advantage to having your CRM hosted on Salesforce's cloud is that you receive each software update automatically.
Salesforce has a wide range of help and support options. Within the CRM program itself there are prompts that you can click on and receive tips and helps for entering information into fields and connecting them to various tasks and users. A hidden side bar that expands as you roll over it has common topics and walk-throughs, including video tutorials and illustrated step-by-step instructions that open in separate windows so you don't have to worry about clicking any back buttons to get to your CRM.
If you need individual help with your CRM program, Salesforce has email, telephone and live chat support available. However, we found it difficult to actually connect with personnel and get answers to our questions in a timely manner. However, most questions are easily answered with the video tutorials and embedded helps within the program.
While the pay scale for its services is tricky to understand and it is hard to get ahold of live support, Salesforce has the most user-friendly interface, the best uses for contact management, and the most advanced sales and marketing strategies among the CRM software we reviewed.