12 Ways Salesforce Solves Critical Business Challenges - dummies

12 Ways Salesforce Solves Critical Business Challenges

By Tom Wong, Liz Kao, Matt Kaufman

You could read a whole book telling you all the great things you can do with Salesforce, but you can get the big picture from this brief list. Here are the most common business challenges that sales, marketing, and support executives face — and how Salesforce can overcome them.

Understanding your customer’s customer

How can you sell to and retain customers if you don’t understand their needs, key contacts, and what account activities and transactions have taken place? Can you serve your customers well if you’re not familiar with how your products and services help improve your customer’s customer’s (no, that’s not a typo) experience?

With Salesforce, you can track all your important customer data in one place so that you can develop solutions that deliver real value to your customers, which in turn should mean higher customer satisfaction with their customers.

Centralizing customer information under one roof

How much time have you ever wasted tracking down a customer contact or an address that you know exists within the walls of your company? What about trying to find out which sales rep owns the relationship with a subsidiary of a global customer? With Salesforce, you can quickly centralize and organize your accounts and contacts so that you can capitalize on that information when you need to.

Expanding the funnel

Inputs and outputs, right? The more leads you generate and pursue, the greater the chance that your revenue will grow. So the big question is, “How do I make the machine work?” With Salesforce, you can plan, manage, measure, and improve lead generation, qualification, and conversion. You can see how much business you or your team generates, the sources of that business, and who in your team is making it happen.

Consolidating your pipeline

Pipeline reports give companies insight into future sales, yet in some companies generating the weekly pipeline could take more than a day of cat herding and guesswork. Reps waste time updating spreadsheets. Managers waste time chasing reps and scrubbing data. Bosses waste time tearing their hair out because the information is old by the time they get it.

The prevalence of cloud computing makes this traditional method of siloed data collection obsolete (or pretty darn inefficient). With Salesforce, you can shorten or eliminate all that. As long as reps manage all their opportunities in Salesforce, managers can generate updated pipeline reports with the click of a button.

Collaborating effectively with your colleagues

Remember when you were the new guy (or gal) at the company, and you had to find out who knew everything about a particular customer, process, or product? Even at smaller companies, it takes time to discover who possesses that extra bit of historical knowledge that could help you close that important deal or resolve a support issue.

Other times, you might be so busy that you’re out of the loop on certain key company updates, even when departments try to keep you informed. What if you could harness the insights from others within the company, yet not be overwhelmed by information overload?

Chatter (the salesforce.com product, not the noun) increases internal awareness and collaboration on the business issues that matter the most to you, so you’re always up to date and never caught unawares.

Working as a team

How many times have you thought that your own coworkers got in the way of selling? Oftentimes, the challenge isn’t the people, or even the technology, but standardizing processes and clarifying roles and responsibilities.

With Salesforce, you can define teams and processes for sales, marketing, and customer service so that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. Although Salesforce doesn’t solve corporate alignment issues, you now have the tool that can drive and manage better team collaboration.

Collaborating with your partners

In many industries, selling directly is a thing of the past. To gain leverage and cover more territory, many companies work through partners. By using Salesforce Communities, your channel team can track and associate partners’ deals and get better insight about who their top partners are. Partners now can strengthen their relationships with their vendors by collaborating more easily on joint sales and marketing efforts.

Beating the competition

How much money have you lost to competitors? How many times did you lose a deal only to discover, after the fact, that it went to your archenemy? If you know whom you’re up against, you can probably better position yourself to win the opportunity. With Salesforce, you and your teams can track competition on deals, collect competitive intelligence, and develop action plans to wear down your foes.

Improving customer service

As a salesperson, have you ever walked into a customer’s office expecting a bed of roses only to be hit with a landmine because of an unresolved customer issue? And if you work in customer support, how much time do you waste on trying to identify the customers and reviewing the context of previous support interactions?

With Service Cloud, you can efficiently capture, manage, and resolve a high volume of customer issues that come in from a variety of communication channels. By managing cases in Service Cloud, sales reps get visibility into the health of their accounts, and service can stay well informed of sales and account activity.

Accessing anytime, anywhere

The mobile revolution that hit your personal life is now a large part of business life, too. People work from home or on the road, oftentimes due to that new universe of cloud-based business programs that has evolved within the last decade. Globalization means that offices are oftentimes spread out. You expect to get access to information from multiple devices, easily and reliably.

With Salesforce, you can access and manage your critical customer information, at 3 p.m. or 3 a.m., online or offline, in multiple languages, and from multiple devices.

Measuring the business

How can you improve what you can’t measure? Simple, huh? If you use Salesforce correctly and regularly to manage customers, you have data to make informed decisions. That benefits everyone.

If you’re a rep, you know what you need to do to get the rewards you want. If you’re a manager, you can pinpoint where to get involved to drive your numbers. And Salesforce’s reporting and dashboards give you easy-to-use tools to measure and analyze your business.

Running your business in the cloud

Salesforce’s success has empowered a whole new generation of managers and administrators to become business operations gurus. Cloud computing’s generally lower licensing costs, its ability to allow system configuration to happen with no prior programming experience, and its ability to make modifications quickly to the system mean that newer businesses can compete with slower, older, bigger competitors, but at a fraction of the cost.