Editing by Jeffrey Goldfarb and Sharon Lam
Customization, add-ons and integrations
Ease of use
Salesforce is arguably the best-known CRM provider on the market. It has an established community and a well-earned reputation for being a leader in the customer relationship management field. While it was created to meet the needs of enterprises and large businesses, Salesforce has expanded its scope and now actively targets businesses of all sizes.
Unlike more rigid competitors, Salesforce CRM provides countless personalization and customization options, giving businesses a high level of control over how the system looks and acts. We were particularly impressed by how Salesforce handles workflow automation and by its pioneering integration of AI in CRM customization.
Notably, Salesforce was one of the first CRM platforms to open itself up to third-party developers, giving it more apps and customization options than any other provider. If Salesforce doesn’t have a built-in function you need, there’s almost certainly an app to compensate. If not, a developer can create and deploy a specific solution.
Salesforce CRM’s initial setup requires time and IT skills. Its learning curve is far steeper than those of many other CRM providers we reviewed. However, you’ll enjoy flexible CRM software guaranteed to accommodate all custom processes and meet the changing needs of your business. For all these reasons and more, Salesforce is our top CRM choice for customization.
Salesforce CRM’s pipeline management feature gives an overview of your sales opportunities. Source: Salesforce
Salesforce may not be the best choice for businesses with less complex operational needs. If your SMB’s CRM needs are straightforward, check out our review of monday.com CRM to learn about a well-executed system designed for SMBs.
Despite its complexities, Salesforce is surprisingly easy to implement and use. Here are some notable ease-of-use factors we discovered.
Salesforce’s visual dashboards help your team pinpoint problems and work on solutions. Source: Salesforce
Salesforce’s upper-tier plans give business owners access to live support, coaching sessions and adoption guidance for an additional fee. This may be useful if you’re considering switching CRM systems to Salesforce.
The Salesforce product boasts an impressive array of CRM features that make it one of the best on the market. Here are some of the most notable features that provide excellent CRM software benefits.
We like that Salesforce’s business products seamlessly integrate. Businesses can grow with the Salesforce CRM and gradually adopt new features as needed. Additional Salesforce product categories include:
You can use Salesforce’s impressive range of third-party apps to run many aspects of your company, from marketing to fulfillment. HR, data analytics, workforce collaboration and finance apps plug directly into Salesforce CRM. You can even add ERP apps to Salesforce to build a system close in function to the ERP platform described in our review of Oracle NetSuite CRM.
We also like how Salesforce’s AppExchange breaks down apps by industry. There are 12 sector-specific areas on AppExchange, including communications, financial services, manufacturing and professional services.
Salesforce is a capable solution for companies that want to improve customer service performance. Read our review of Salesforce Service Cloud to discover how it helps supervisors and teams manage ongoing customer relationships.
We were impressed by Salesforce CRM’s vast customization capabilities – an area where it truly stands out among the competition. While many CRMs we reviewed offer options for customizing deal and contact fields, email templates, and dashboards, Salesforce lets you do much more.
Here are some of our favorite customization options:
Sales managers can customize their dashboards with specific objects. Source: Salesforce
We like that CRM users can build customizable systems and integrate their favorite business apps via the Salesforce AppExchange store. Other CRM software companies we reviewed have similar online stores for add-ons, but Salesforce’s is far more comprehensive, with thousands of available integrations.
The company makes it easy to search for add-ons based on the product name and view industry-specific product bundles. Because Salesforce is such a huge company, its industry-specific add-ons are expansive. There’s even a separate section for small business-specific add-ons, many of which are free.
On the AppExchange, you’ll find five different solution categories:
Salesforce is embracing the “low code” and “no code” trends with its Lightning App Builder and Salesforce Flow drag-and-drop tools. Read our HubSpot review to learn about another CRM with drag-and-drop functionality.
New apps are added to the AppExchange daily, further enhancing its appeal. Source: Salesforce
We were pleased to see Salesforce’s intuitive productivity-boosting tools, particularly its built-in project management features. (Freshworks has similar tools; read our Freshworks CRM review to learn more.) Once implemented, sales and marketing departments – as well as managers – will find it easy to manage and build workflows, assign and follow tasks, and check off permissions.
Salesforce’s visual dashboards allow sales reps to check KPIs and track their progress toward quotas, facilitating productivity and accountability. We like that you can add meetings straight from the calendar tab and see an instant overview of your schedule.
Additional add-on productivity tools are available through the AppExchange.
Salesforce’s artificial intelligence (AI) strides impressed us with capabilities beyond those of the competitors we reviewed. Salesforce was a CRM-AI pioneer, launching its high-profile AI tool, Einstein, in 2016. Today, the company has picked up the pace amid breakthroughs in the generative large language model AIs (like ChatGPT and Bard) that power tools like Einstein. Einstein is available on Salesforce’s upper-tier plans or as a paid add-on.
Einstein can do the following after gathering data from system use and user input:
Einstein, in its current form, is amazing, and we look forward to seeing its next iterations. We expect AI (and the solutions other CRM providers develop) to be integral to corporate life and CRM adoption in the coming years. We’re not awarding best use of AI in this round of CRM reviews; however, if we were, Salesforce would win.
Einstein can flag emails in which leads express critical concerns that could prevent a deal from moving forward, allowing a sales rep to prioritize those messages and act fast to grow and sustain customer relationships.
Salesforce’s Einstein tool can help with sentiment analysis so you understand how your brand is perceived. Source: Salesforce
Nearly every CRM vendor we reviewed has some form of an online community. However, Salesforce’s Trailblazer community is particularly impressive, replete with documentation invaluable for admins. You can find step-by-step guides on everything from creating custom CRM reports to turning on user notifications.
There’s also an extensive user-only forum for direct communication with other admins and CRM users and a comprehensive Trailhead learning platform with various product-related courses, upskilling opportunities and official certifications.
You can purchase Salesforce’s Sales Cloud CRM via one of four subscription tiers:
Unlike Salesforce competitors monday and HubSpot, there’s no free plan.
Only Essentials is available on a month-to-month basis; all other plans require an annual contract. Bear in mind that annual contracts often require you to pay for the whole year upfront, which may not be ideal for some businesses.
All costs below are applied when billed annually. All plans allow you to send 5,000 email marketing messages daily from the platform, which is much more generous than many other providers we reviewed.
Price: $25 per user per month; available for up to 10 users
Features: Account, contact, lead, task and opportunity management; lead auto-assignment; prevention of duplicates; automatic capture of a lead’s available web information; mass email; marketing campaigns; customizable reports and dashboards; email integration with Gmail and Outlook; and Salesforce mobile app
Price: $75 per user per month
Features: Everything in the Essentials plan, plus pipeline management, lead registration, rules-based lead scoring, collaborative forecasting, a forecasting mobile app, quote and order management, roles and permissions, and a developer sandbox
Price: $150 per user per month
Features: Everything in the Professional plan, plus workflow and approval automation, sales teams and territories, opportunity scoring, and advanced reporting
Price: $300 per user per month
Features: Everything in the Enterprise plan, plus a sales engagement hub, AI-powered sales insights with Einstein, sales cadences and 24/7 support
Salesforce is pricey compared to other CRM solutions we reviewed. It’s a massive product with many add-ons and customizations; the subscription costs listed here should be considered jumping-off points.
You can spend considerably more on Salesforce. For example, CPQ & Billing, which allows you to quickly configure, price and quote complex solutions, costs $75 per user per month. Other add-ons include Pardot, Quip, Einstein AI and Sales Dialer – all sold separately. There are additional costs if you opt for training or help with implementation.
Many other SaaS products offer free versions and low-cost, entry-level subscriptions that can be used indefinitely. While $25 per user per month isn’t exorbitant, it’s not a realistic long-term option for most small businesses because only 10 users are supported at that level. The next plan jumps to $75 per user per month – significantly more expensive than the competition.
We recommend taking advantage of Salesforce’s 14-day free trial to ensure this CRM is worth the investment.
Implementing CRM software always takes care and patience. But due to its breadth of customization options, Salesforce CRM’s implementation process can vary drastically, taking anywhere from a few days to several weeks. While that may seem alarming, users will quickly see that this CRM is worth the effort once it is set up.
Salesforce and third-party agencies can manage your initial implementation and launch for you. Still, this help comes at a cost, depending on your company size, number of employees, data volume and complexity, third-party integrations, and customization level.
Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to create a complex solution immediately. You can use the software out of the box and modify it as your business needs evolve. Thanks to the Salesforce CRM’s intuitive design and overall sophistication, the learning curve isn’t steep for non-admin users after implementation.
In addition to a vast library of training materials, Salesforce offers adoption guidance and coaching services for an extra cost. That may be worth it for business owners concerned about setting up the CRM and onboarding users.
Use the Data Import Wizard from the Setup menu to import up to 50,000 standard objects – like contact, lead and account information – from a CSV file.
While Salesforce is a market leader in CRM technology, integrations and capabilities, we found that it falls short in the customer service department. When we reached out for information about the company’s services, the response was delayed.
When we did communicate with customer support reps, they were very helpful and used real-life situations to explain the product’s features and answer questions about the program. They were very clear and offered several solutions to help further our understanding. However, compared to other providers we called, their answers could have been more detailed.
Unfortunately, Salesforce has a C-minus rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and isn’t an accredited BBB business. It earned 1 out of 5 stars and closed 55 complaints within the last three years. That’s disappointing and surprising for a company that’s so well regarded in the industry.
On the plus side, Salesforce provides an extensive selection of self-guided resources, access to the Trailblazer community and basic technical support. Additionally, its Unlimited package comes with 24/7 assistance.
For an additional fee of 30 percent of your total monthly service fees, users can access 24/7 phone support, expert coaching and a dedicated account manager.
Salesforce CRM is an excellent solution; however, we did identify some limitations:
When evaluating the best CRM software, we conducted extensive comparative research of dozens of software solutions in the category. Our product review process was designed to help you find the right CRM for your business. It included customer support team communication, trials to evaluate product functionality, and an evaluation of each provider’s tutorials, webinars and support materials. We also took pricing into consideration. When looking for the best CRM for customizability specifically, we examined customization options, available integrations, reporting and analytics, and sales automation.
Though the Salesforce system has an extensive collection of CRM features and add-ons, its intuitive design and standard CRM lingo make it easy to learn. The vendor also provides various training materials and courses on Trailhead, the company’s free online learning platform, to get you started.
Salesforce doesn’t have a free plan; its pricing starts at $25 per user per month. However, the company offers a 14-day free trial so you can assess whether it’s a good fit for your business.
In the ever-evolving landscape of business technology, adapting to change is no longer a choice — it’s a necessity. And when it comes to managing those changes seamlessly, Salesforce stands tall as a powerhouse. However, navigating the intricate realm of Salesforce Change Management can often leave even the most seasoned professionals scratching their heads.
We unveil six invaluable tips that promise to unravel the complexities, making the process not just manageable, but downright straightforward. Whether you’re a salesforce novice or a seasoned pro, these insights will empower you to wield change as a tool for growth, without breaking a sweat.
Before embarking on any salesforce changes, it’s essential to meticulously define the scope and objectives of the proposed modifications. This involves a detailed analysis of the current system, identifying pain points, and recognizing opportunities for enhancement. Once potential changes are identified, a rigorous prioritization process should be employed.
This prioritization should be based on factors such as the anticipated business impact, alignment with strategic goals, and feasibility of implementation. The impacts of any change should be thoroughly evaluated, considering both short-term and long-term consequences. This includes assessing potential disruptions to existing processes, workflows, and user experiences, as well as estimating the financial, resource, and time investments required for successful implementation.
ALSO READ: HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SALESFORCE INVESTMENT
Successful salesforce change management thrives on collaborative efforts across diverse departments. Forming a dedicated change management team comprising representatives from different functional areas fosters a holistic approach. Involving stakeholders early in the process ensures that all perspectives are considered, mitigating resistance and enhancing buy-in.
Open communication channels must be established to facilitate idea sharing, status updates, and issue resolution. This collaborative synergy not only promotes comprehensive change planning but also empowers a sense of ownership among stakeholders. By uniting expertise and insights from various disciplines, organizations can navigate change with collective strength and drive more successful implementations.
Thorough documentation is the backbone of effective salesforce change management. Detailed records of change requests, requirements, and implementation plans ensure a clear roadmap for all involved. A well-maintained repository of version-controlled documentation facilitates transparency, aiding in tracing the evolution of changes and reducing confusion. This meticulous documentation also supports knowledge transfer, enabling seamless onboarding and continuity.
By meticulously capturing every step and decision, organizations establish a reliable foundation for change, ensuring that stakeholders remain informed and aligned throughout the process. Robust documentation safeguards against uncertainties and serves as a valuable resource for future enhancements.
Rigorous testing and quality assurance are cornerstones of successful Salesforce change management. Crafting comprehensive test plans and scenarios allows for the meticulous examination of new configurations and functionalities. User Acceptance Testing (UAT) involving end-users validates the changes from a practical standpoint, ensuring they meet user needs and expectations.
Addressing any detected bugs, performance issues, or discrepancies during testing guarantees a smoother transition. A robust testing phase minimizes post-implementation disruptions and fosters user confidence. By prioritizing quality assurance, organizations fortify their change management process, delivering dependable solutions that align seamlessly with business objectives.
Empowering users through effective training and ongoing support is pivotal in salesforce change management. Developing comprehensive training materials, including guides and tutorials, equips users with the knowledge to navigate new features and processes. Conducting engaging training sessions and workshops enhances user proficiency and fosters a positive transition experience.
Providing accessible avenues for user support, such as help desks or forums, ensures timely issue resolution and knowledge sharing. Prioritizing user training and support cultivates user confidence, reduces frustration, and promotes efficient utilization of the salesforce platform, ultimately contributing to the success of change initiatives.
A well-executed change rollout and vigilant monitoring are pivotal to salesforce change management success. Careful planning of controlled rollouts or pilot launches ensures gradual adoption and minimizes disruption. Monitoring user adoption, feedback, and system performance provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of implemented changes. Iterative improvements based on real-time data help fine-tune configurations and address evolving needs.
This proactive approach guarantees that the change’s impact aligns with expectations, promoting sustained user satisfaction. By maintaining a watchful eye on the ongoing change process, organizations can swiftly adapt, optimize, and enhance the Salesforce environment, driving long-term success and continuous improvement.
Simplifying Salesforce change management is a multi-faceted endeavor that demands strategic planning, collaboration, documentation, testing, training, and vigilant monitoring. By adhering to these key principles, organizations can navigate transitions with clarity, engage stakeholders effectively, and ensure seamless system enhancements. Embracing change as an iterative process allows for agility and continuous improvement, leading to a Salesforce environment that not only meets current needs but also lays a solid foundation for future innovation and success.
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The policy update from Salesforce is the latest effort from the provider to address the risk concerns of would-be enterprise technology adopters.
In June, the company rolled out Einstein GPT Trust Layer, a service designed to let customers access enterprise-ready data security and compliance safeguards while leveraging generative AI tools.
"The GPT Trust Layer gives connected LLMs secure, real-time access to data without the need to move all of your data into the LLM itself," said Marc Benioff, Salesforce chairman and co-CEO, speaking in May during the company's Q1 2024 earnings call. "While they're using the LLMs, the data itself is not moving and being stored in the LLM. That is what our customers want."
As enterprise adoption of generative AI advances, more than half of IT leaders say inaccuracies and cybersecurity are associated risks of the emerging technology, according to a report from QuantumBlack, AI by McKinsey.
Salesforce, with its guidelines clearly stating usage limitations, is showing leadership among the provider ecosystem in terms of responsible AI, according to Juliette Powell and Art Kleiner, professors at New York University.
"On the surface, the new policy may look unenforceable, but it's an addition to Salesforce's Acceptable Use and External Facing Services Policy, which clearly states that violators could lose their Salesforce licenses," the professors said via email. "It will be really interesting to see which companies are targeted first."
The new policy from Salesforce comes as another major provider updated its own terms of service in response to criticisms over data use.
Zoom updated its terms and conditions to clarify the provider would be able to access customer content for safety and legal purposes, but not use any customer data to train third-party or its own AI models.
NEW YORK, Aug 15 (Reuters Breakingviews) - For activist investors in Salesforce (CRM.N), the low-hanging fruit should suffice. After a nearly 60% rise in the $200 billion software developer’s share price so far this year, Jeff Smith’s Starboard Value and Dan Loeb’s Third Point are selling down their stakes. It’s a good time to pocket gains as Big Tech faces fresh challenges.
Fast growth and big-ticket acquisitions that Salesforce boss Marc Benioff had pursued turned anathema last year. The stock price roughly halved, falling faster than the Nasdaq-100 Technology Sector Index (.NDXT). Profit became a bigger focus, and rabble-rousers that also included ValueAct and Elliott Investment Management came calling.
The prescription was simply to throw everything into reverse. Benioff eventually acquiesced, slashing 10% of the workforce, disbanding the deals committee and unveiling a $20 billion stock buyback plan. Operating margins increased in the quarter ended April 30.
Now comes the hard part. Salesforce’s top-line growth hit a 13-year low, mirroring challenges at other technology goliaths. Joining the artificial intelligence hype, company executives mentioned it 76 times on the latest earnings call. It’s not clear yet that investment in AI will pay off, however, and customers are tightening their belts on other products. Offloading Salesforce now is a relatively easy sell. (By Jonathan Guilford)
Follow @Breakingviews on Twitter
(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)
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Editing by Jeffrey Goldfarb and Sharon Lam
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News, which, under the Trust Principles, is committed to integrity, independence, and freedom from bias.
NEW YORK, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Salesforce Inc (CRM.N) was heavily criticized by several activist investors in early 2023 but by the end of June, after results came in better than expected and a new director was added, filings show some cut their stakes or exited completely.
Starboard Value, among the first to publicly push the U.S. software company in October to do better calling for a greater focus on profitability, cut its stake by 20% to own roughly 2 million shares on June 30, according to a regulatory filing.
Third Point LLC, which had owned 800,000 shares earlier this year, no longer owned any shares on June 30, its filing shows.
The changes in ownership came after significant overhauls at Salesforce helped push its share price higher.
Inclusive Capital Management, one of four activists closely involved with Salesforce in early 2023 along with Starboard, Elliott Investment Management and ValueAct Capital, exited even earlier, according to filings.
After Inclusive owned 1.6 million shares at the end of 2022, Salesforce was no longer listed on filings detailing ownership for the first or second quarters.
Pressure built on Salesforce and its CEO Marc Benioff during the first months of 2023. But cost cuts, news that it was boosting its share buybacks and dismantling its mergers and acquisition committee, plus stronger-than-expected fourth quarter growth went a long way to quiet the activists, sources familiar with the matter said.
The company also added Mason Morfit, the co-chief executive officer of investment firm ValueAct, to its board during the first quarter. ValueAct's ownership stake remained unchanged at 3.5 million at the end of the second quarter, its filing shows.
However, a handful of other investors, including ones that might not have been pushing for change, cut their holdings between April and the end of June.
Sachem Head Capital Management cut its stake by 20% after Salesforce made up nearly 5% of its portfolio. Farallon Capital Management sold 44% of its stake in Salesforce during the second quarter, while Polen Capital cut its holding by 24% and Light Street Capital reduced its ownership stake by 15%.
Salesforce's stock price has surged 57% since January and the bulk of the move occurred during the first quarter when the activists were pushing for changes and the company delivered.
During the second quarter the stock price moved to $211 a share from $199 a share. It closed at $212.06 on Monday.
Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Sonali Paul
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
VF Corp. has named Brent Hyder as its new chief people officer in the company’s latest addition to its executive team.
Effective Sept. 5, Hyder will report to VF’s newly minted CEO and president, Bracken Darrell, who joined the footwear company in July. Hyder most recently served as the chief people officer at Salesforce. Prior to that, his nearly 30-year career in retail included 15 years at Gap Inc, culminating in his role as chief human resources officer. He was also formerly the global chief operating officer of the Gap brand and held other roles at Target and Best Buy.
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“I’m honored and excited to join VF and get back to my love of working in the retail industry,” Hyder said in a statement. “VF is a company that I’ve long admired for its many fundamental strengths — from incredible brands, to talent, to environmental stewardship, and a commitment to inclusion and diversity. I look forward to working with the HR organization and the entire VF team to build and deliver our exciting consumer-focused growth strategy.”
In his new role, Hyder will oversee VF’s human resources function globally, leading VF’s talent acquisition and management programs with a focus on development and retention.
Hyder’s appointment marks the latest executive change for VF in the midst of its turnaround plan. In addition to Darrell’s appointment, VF recently named board member Richard Carucci as the company’s board chair. In recent quarters, higher-than-usual inventory levels, executive turnover and a challenging wholesale environment have impacted results for the footwear giant, which owns Vans, The North Face, Timberland and Supreme, among other brands.
“We’re thrilled to have Brent join the VF team. His proven success in building top-rated employee experiences and high-performance inclusive cultures, combined with his strong global retail management experience, make Brent the ideal people leader for VF,” said Darrell in a statement. “Brent shares a deep respect for VF’s incredible brands and a strong desire to build a workplace that attracts, develops, and retains the very best and most diverse talent in service to our consumers.”
This month, VF Corp. reported that net losses for the first quarter widened to $57.4 million from $56 million a year, with adjusted losses per share of 15 cents. This was slightly weaker than the 12 cent loss Wall Street analysts projected, according to FactSet. Revenues were down 8 percent to $2.1 billion, in line with expectations.
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Someone with a lot of money to spend has taken a bearish stance on Salesforce CRM.
And retail traders should know.
We noticed this today when the big position showed up on publicly available options history that we track here at Benzinga.
Whether this is an institution or just a wealthy individual, we don't know. But when something this big happens with CRM, it often means somebody knows something is about to happen.
So how do we know what this whale just did?
Today, Benzinga's options scanner spotted 34 uncommon options trades for Salesforce.
This isn't normal.
The overall sentiment of these big-money traders is split between 29% bullish and 70%, bearish.
Out of all of the special options we uncovered, 12 are puts, for a total amount of $911,203, and 22 are calls, for a total amount of $861,474.
Taking into account the Volume and Open Interest on these contracts, it appears that whales have been targeting a price range from $140.0 to $300.0 for Salesforce over the last 3 months.
Looking at the volume and open interest is an insightful way to conduct due diligence on a stock.
This data can help you track the liquidity and interest for Salesforce's options for a given strike price.
Below, we can observe the evolution of the volume and open interest of calls and puts, respectively, for all of Salesforce's whale activity within a strike price range from $140.0 to $300.0 in the last 30 days.
|Symbol||PUT/CALL||Trade Type||Sentiment||Exp. Date||Strike Price||Total Trade Price||Open Interest||Volume|
|Symbol||PUT/CALL||Trade Type||Sentiment||Exp. Date||Strike Price||Total Trade Price||Open Interest||Volume|
Options are a riskier asset compared to just trading the stock, but they have higher profit potential. Serious options traders manage this risk by educating themselves daily, scaling in and out of trades, following more than one indicator, and following the markets closely.
If you want to stay updated on the latest options trades for Salesforce, Benzinga Pro gives you real-time options trades alerts.
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