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Grow Your Business Technology

How Salesforce Essentials Differs from Other Salesforce Plans

Salesforce
Credit: Bjorn Bakstad / Shutterstock.com

Salesforce Essentials, released in 2017, is Salesforce's newest small business solution. While the SaaS giant has offered products geared toward the SMB set in the past, such solutions were typically best-suited for medium sized businesses and larger. Salesforce Essentials (also called Lightning Essentials), on the other hand, only supports up to 10 users at a time and was built start-to-finish with very small businesses in mind.

Here's how the Essentials plan differs from other Salesforce packages.

According to Salesforce's 2017 Small & Medium Business Trends Report, only 26 percent of small businesses have one or more in-house IT staff members. One reason many small businesses eschew affordable SaaS solutions is because of lack of implementation support. For entrepreneurs with a skeleton crew, it's simply not realistic to spend a few weeks negotiating with sales reps, watching demos and reading documentation just to set up a CRM system.

Salesforce has simplified the implementation process with Salesforce Essentials by giving users access to Trailhead, a "free, gamified online learning platform" that guides users through the quick setup process. Since there are fewer features in this streamlined version of the CRM, there's less to do to get up and running, and you can do it all in house without extensive tech skills. [See related story: Check out our top picks for the best CRM software.]

Salesforce Essentials is priced to entice small business owners into buying into the Salesforce ecosystem. The hope is, presumably, that small business users will sign up for Essentials and gradually upgrade to more sophisticated levels of service. In fact, the reason Essentials is so easy to upgrade because it's not an entirely new product; it's just a lower tier option of Salesforce's Lightning line.

For $25 per user, per month, small business users get access to Sales Cloud Essentials and Service Cloud Essentials for up to 10 users (even though it says five users on the Salesforce website). The next tier up is $75 per user, per month, so if your business is growing rapidly and you anticipate having more than 10 users, plan your budget accordingly.

Editor's Note: Looking for information on CRM software? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.

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Salesforce Essentials doesn't offer all the functionality of Lightning, but it offers a lot of features for the price point. Here are a few of the best features Essentials offers small business users:

Built for small sales teams, Sales Cloud Essentials offers lots of useful features for a low price:  

  • Account and contact management
  • Opportunity management
  • Customizable sales process
  • Task management, activity feed
  • Einstein Activity Capture
  • Configurable reports and dashboards
  • Collaboration tools
  • Case management
  • Lightning app builder and app exchange

The limitations are most apparent when it comes to the limited analytics/forecasting, lack of workflows (you can't build-in approvals), lack of roles and permissions, and lack of built-in billing and price quoting functionality.

Customer service can be tricky for small businesses, and Salesforce's Service Cloud Essentials is a great package for basic management. You'll have to upgrade to get features like work order management and advanced reporting, but the features included are impressive for the price.

  • Salesforce mobile app
  • Collaboration tools
  • Case auto-assignment
  • Email optimization (web and email case capture and auto-response)
  • Case escalation rules and queues
  • Lead-contact account management
  • Task management and activity tracking
  • Lightning app builder
  • Custom profiles and page layouts

Salesforce Essentials offers small businesses affordable entry to one of the largest and most powerful CRMs on the market. If you keep an eye on costs as you grow, and stay within your data limits, this small business edition of Salesforce is worth a try.

Editor's Note: Looking for information on CRM software? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.

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Mona Bushnell

Mona Bushnell is a New York City-based Staff Writer for Tom’s IT Pro, Business.com and Business News Daily. She has a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and has previously worked as an IT Technician, a Copywriter, a Software Administrator, a Scheduling Manager and an Editorial Writer. Mona began freelance writing full-time in 2014 and joined the Purch team in 2017.