Marc Benioff, a co-founder of Salesforce, started the company in 1999 with a “mission to ‘End Software’ through his creation of the ‘cloud.’” What he created was a new kind of software: programs that were immediately available online. With this vision he created SaaS, revolutionized business technology, and likely cleared the path to big data and analytics.

A growing small business can invest in the Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) platform, which runs Sales Cloud and Quip. The CRM platform is the centralized location for all a company’s data as it grows, with Sales Cloud serving as a specific tool for the sales team that manages every aspect of the sales process. Quip is a collaboration tool built directly into Salesforce that allows multiple users to access and update documents and other files at the same time.

The business owner initially pays for three seats: one for the owner, one for the sales manager, and one for the second salesperson. In six months, when the business has expanded, the owner upgrades to 10 seats and adds another platform to the mix: Marketing Cloud, for the new marketing team. The employees all use laptops and can work remotely as needed. Even when one salesperson is thousands of miles away, they can collaborate on documents and update cases so the marketing team at the home office has accurate data at all times. At an important meeting with an investor, the owner pulls out their smartphone, opens the Salesforce mobile CRM app, and answers investors’ questions with current data.

All decisions regarding business growth are based on dashboards that report accurate data at all times. Because the company is running a fully integrated system, sales, marketing, customer service, and anyone who uses the CRM platform all have access to the same information: a single customer view.

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