Salesforce is used by thousands of customers across many countries and growing massively. For good reason. It brings customers and their partners together to manage their daily business challenges in the smartest way possible. It’s called Customer Relationship Management, in short CRM. In this article, we look at the basic elements of the Salesforce CRM Platform and how it brings business data to life.
Welcome to The World of Salesforce
Let’s get you started with understanding the basic elements of the Salesforce Platform and how it will be beneficial for managing day-to-day business processes.
Salesforce is a cloud-based application. This means, that all the data is stored in the cloud. Customers will be able to manage all their contacts and potential customers, organize and prioritize their daily customer activity, close the company’s sales and share key insights … in the most effective way.
All of this happens from the one central location, through the cloud, in real-time, from any device that has an internet connection, from anywhere and at any time. The sky is the limit. No more Excel spreadsheets or post-it notes which are disconnected and can be hard to find. With Salesforce customers will save time and become much more organized, meaning a lot faster and more efficient. This makes customers happy and therefore increase sales.
Salesforce provides you with a constantly growing suite of products, referred to as “Clouds”. This range of products allows customers to manage all their different processes such as Sales or Marketing or Customer Service and many others. Have a look at their website for an overview of all their products so you don’t miss out.
In this article, we’ll focus on the Sales Cloud. This is Salesforce’s core product from which the rest of the platform has evolved. It’s the perfect place to start and understand the core principles and architecture of the platform. The Sales Cloud hosts a specific bundle of features and functionalities dedicated to managing sales-related data and business processes.
How Is Data Organized in Salesforce
Let’s look at how the data is set up and structured in a Salesforce Org. The data generated is organized in so-called Objects. Each Object contains a set of very specific type of data. Just like your kitchen: one drawer contains your cutlery, the next holds your dinner plates, the next one stores your placemats. When dinner time arrives, you open each and grab all the pieces that nicely fit together and make the dinner table look nice.
Salesforce pretty much does the same. One Object contains the data about the companies (= Account Object) an organization works with, another Object contains the data about the individuals (= Contact Object) from these companies they deal with, and so on.
An Object is like a table of data, like an Excel spreadsheet. Let’s take the Account Object as an example. It contains the details about the Accounts, such as the name of the company, the address, the annual revenue and a lot more. The rows represent the account record of each company and the columns represent the details of each of these.
The Concept of Standard Objects
To give you a head start, Salesforce provides several Standard Objects for customers to start saving important customer data right away. Standard Objects contain a set of Standard Fields which you can customize or extend with Custom Fields, as required. Before we dive into customization though, let’s understand first what the Standard Objects are:
The Account Object contains general information about the organizations you work with, such as name, address or website. An Account can be a customer, a supplier, a partner or even a competitor. Any type of organization requires a different set of data stored in an Account Record.
The Contact Object contains details about the individual person of an Account, such as their mobile number or email address. A Contact can however be a private individual instead. This is referred to as a Person Account which we’ll cover in another article.
The Opportunity Object is there to store information about the potential product or service a customer is interested in such as the amount or the name of the product.
The Lead Object contains information about potential customers. It’s similar to a Contact Record but not fully qualified yet. Once a Lead has been verified to turn into a likely sale, that’s when it is being converted. The conversion process divides the Lead information into three parts, an Account Record, a Contact Record, and an Opportunity Record.
I know this may be a little confusing. Just think about a Lead as a business card. Once you have caught up with the person you met or who has been referred to you, and you have determined the chances are good, you set them up as a customer, meaning a new Account Record with a corresponding Contact Record and a Sales Opportunity.
The Campaign Object manages your marketing activities to generate Leads or retain Contacts and stores information around dates, location, budget and more.
The Case Object is typically used to captures enquiries from customers such as questions or issues with products or services. Cases can also be used to manage general enquiries or even internal change requests. You can connect Case Records to the other associated Objects they are related to, in this example to the corresponding Opportunity. This extends each record to provide additional customer information.
Finally, the User Object holds the details about the people (= Users) in your organization that have access to all that data in Salesforce. Through the User Object, you’ll not only manage their details but also the type and level of access each User will have. This includes read, edit, create or delete access. This is all part of the data security model we’ll have you covered with too.
Note: These are the most relevant Standard Objects you need to know about for now. You’ll notice that there are quite a few more. We’ll take it step-by-step and explore the other ones as we go.
Relationships to Other Objects
Salesforce is a relational database where relevant Salesforce data is connected to provide the insights each business requires. Each Salesforce Product, like the Sales Cloud, comes with Standard Objects which are already linked to one another. This means the relationships between these Objects have already been set up.
Based on the type of data, the Objects are organized by business function. In Sales Cloud, this includes Sales, Service and Marketing functions. In the system, they are referred to as Apps which are selected through the so-called App Launcher. This is similar to an app on your mobile device which has a very specific purpose, like managing your shopping list. The Apps in Salesforce do just the same.
An App in Salesforce contains a default bundle of Salesforce Objects. The Sales App contains Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities. The Marketing App contains Campaigns and Leads, and Service App contains Cases. Some Objects, like Accounts and Contacts are cross-functional and will therefore be displayed within each of the apps. These Apps can be tailored based on business needs. This includes re-arranging the default Objects, adding or removing Objects and so on.
The way how the Objects within these Apps are linked is through so-called Related Lists and Lookup hyperlinks. Let’s look at Related Lists first. For example, on an Account, you will see a list of related Contacts or related Opportunities. This means, the Account is the main record (=Master Object), and the Contacts, Opportunities, or other records such as Cases, are attached underneath it (=Detail Objects or Child Objects). It’s like you are looking down.
With Lookup hyperlinks however it’s the other way around. For example, you are on a Contact record, and you want to see the Account details, you will find a hyperlink instead. It’s like you are looking up to the Master Object.
Organize Data Through Collaboration
There are vast amounts of data coming together in a single Salesforce Database. Salesforce Users will most certainly have questions or updates around these.
And this is where Chatter comes in. Chatter is Salesforce’s built-in collaboration platform. Salesforce offers it for Users to share information and ask questions in context to records they are working on. Users may need to involve subject matter experts from their teams or create chat groups to discuss specific topics. Or they may want to know what other people are saying and follow them to get notified. It’s similar to social media platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn. With Chatter, Salesforce Users can create an online and searchable content source.
Now you have learned some of the essential features and functionalities of the Salesforce Platform, in particular Sales Cloud. There is so much more to learn about Salesforce, such as its architecture and infrastructure, customization, change management and so on and on.
Watch this space!
Please let me know in the comments what else you are looking forward to learning about Salesforce. These articles are created for YOU! So go ahead and share your thoughts. 👏🏻
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