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Salesforce Review

By Simone Johnson, Business News Daily Writer | Updated Jul 15, 2020

  • Salesforce helps marketing, sales, commerce, service and IT teams collaborate more effectively, even when individuals are working remotely.
  • Salesforce offers account, contact, lead, and opportunity management.
  • Users can try Salesforce for free for 30 days without having to provide their credit card number.
  • This review is for small business owners and professionals looking for more information on what Salesforce, our choice as the best CRM for growing businesses, has to offer. 

After evaluating more than 60 vendors, Salesforce is the best CRM for growing businesses. Salesforce is an established, full-featured CRM that can meet the needs of a developing company, and it offers small businesses the power and functionality of an enterprise-level CRM in a package that can be gradually scaled and upgraded over time. 

Salesforce

Salesforce

Best CRM Software of 2020

The Verdict

Salesforce is our choice as the best CRM for growing business because it comes with an array of features that are useful to businesses at any stage of development.

While lightweight CRM systems can be easily outgrown, sophisticated solutions like Salesforce can serve your small business from the startup stage through to the enterprise level at a competitive rate. 

To understand how we selected our best picks, you can view our methodology, as well as a comprehensive list of CRM software, on our best picks page.

 

Editor's note: Looking for the right CRM software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs. 

Pricing

Salesforce isn't a budget CRM, but it is possible to adopt Salesforce without breaking the bank. Below is a price breakdown for the various cloud CRM subscription plans. Like many other CRMs, Salesforce quotes prices per user, per month, but the prices cited below are based on paying annually.

Essentials

The entry-level Salesforce CRM, Essentials, costs $25 per user, per month. This relatively affordable solution offers price-conscious business owners an opportunity to buy into the Salesforce ecosystem without massive upfront costs.

Professional

The Professional plan, which will run you $75 per user, per month, includes most of the features in the Essentials plan (except Einstein Activity Capture and the inbox mobile app), plus more in-depth lead management and marketing tools, like the ability to send mass emails and manage campaigns.

Enterprise

The most popular Salesforce CRM tier, Enterprise, is significantly more expensive than most SMB-focused solutions at $150 per user, per month. But the extensive customization options make it a good fit for businesses with highly specific needs. Unlike lower tiers, this CRM level offers full access to all of Salesforce's package-inclusive features, as well as unlimited roles and permissions, unlimited record types, unlimited processes, unlimited profiles and page layouts, and one partial sandbox for lightweight dev testing.

Unlimited

Ideal for highly tech-oriented businesses with extensive dev needs, Unlimited offers the same access as Enterprise in addition to access to a full developer sandbox and developer pro sandbox. For $300 per user, per month, this plan also grants access to Premier Success Resources, 24/7 toll-free support, developer support, unlimited online training, configuration services and accelerators. Features like these are not available at any other subscription level, but are likely unnecessary for most small businesses. 

Key takeaway: Salesforce offers four different service plans ranging from $25 to $300 per user, per month. 

Features

Some CRMs have one or two standout features that make them worthy of consideration among business users, but Salesforce's sheer variety of features and nearly limitless service options make it a winner in our book. Here are a few of the best CRM features Salesforce offers business users. Keep in mind that some of these features are add-ons and aren't included in the tiered pricing structure we outlined above.

Customizable Dashboards

Salesforce's dashboard is arranged in an intuitive way, with reporting widgets and real-time summaries of sales numbers and customer data. Dashboard views can easily be customized, so employees with varied roles see only what's important to them.

Advanced Analytics

Basic business analytics are built into Salesforce's CRM, but advanced analytics are available as an add-on for those with extensive data analysis needs. Products like Salesforce's Einstein Analytics family includes a variety of products designed to boost sales and productivity by interpreting gathered data.

Click to Call

While this isn't included in any of the tiered subscription plans, Salesforce CRM users may opt to pay extra for the addition of Lightning Dialer. Salesforce's proprietary click-to-call add-on is a must for high-volume call centers and eliminates the need for a third-party calling solution. 

B2B Marketing Tools

Pardot B2B Marketing Automation is a Salesforce add-on that allows B2B users to streamline the marketing and lead-generation process and maximize ROI. Very few CRMs offer tools specifically for B2B industries, so this is a standout feature.

Salesforce Trailblazer Community

For the self-serve set, the Salesforce Trailblazer Community is an invaluable online resource. The comprehensive help forum features knowledge articles, best practices for implementation, interactive groups, a space for Q&As and more. Since Salesforce is so widely used, the Trailblazer Community is more active and responsive than other branded CRM user groups.

Customer Service Console 

You'd be hard-pressed to find a company with more customer support tools than Salesforce. In fact, this CRM provider offers an entire Customer Service Console add-on designed specifically for small businesses and help desks. Through the console, you can view customer inquiries from all communication channels in one place, route questions to the correct agents, and maintain records of conversations and response time.

Project Management 

Salesforce builds lightweight project management into its CRM, primarily in the form of workflows, task assignments, approvals and permission levels. However, if you require more advanced project management or already use a popular project management system, you can integrate it with your Salesforce CRM through AppExchange. There are more than 100 different project management tools (paid and free) that pair with Salesforce, including popular solutions like Taskfeed and Tracker by Deloitte, as well as industry-specific products like the AdvoLogix Legal Suite.

AppExchange Free Integrations

There are plenty of paid services you can integrate with Salesforce through AppExchange, but there are also hundreds of free integrations available, some of which are pared-down versions of more expensive products (ideal for very small businesses) and others that are open source or simply available free of charge. Browse the Salesforce AppExchange store by category to get a sense of the add-ons available. 

Key takeaway: Salesforce is packed with many valuable features, including customizable dashboards, advanced analytics, click to call and B2B marketing tools.

Salesforce Pros

During our evaluation of Salesforce, we consistently were impressed with the overall intuitive design of the program. The layout of tabs and menu items is easy to navigate without much direction.

Salesforce dominates the CRM market because it can be scaled and customized to meet the needs of a diverse range of businesses. The implementation timeline for Salesforce varies wildly due to different subscription levels and integrations that require varying levels of hands-on setup. However, once implemented, Salesforce offers one of the best user interfaces available.

Salesforce's modern UI is intuitive enough to use that very little training is necessary for non-admin users. Navigation within Salesforce is simple too. Each tab is separated into easy-to-understand categories, such as Home, Contacts, Accounts, Leads, Campaigns, Opportunities, Forecasts and Files. This tab-style layout makes it easy to see all the information available and jump from task to task. Additionally, Salesforce admin controls make it simple to maintain different permissions and displays based on user groups or individual users, and since the software is mobile-ready, it's accessible from anywhere.

While some CRMs we reviewed focus solely on small business use, Salesforce has a much broader scope. This system goes beyond the functionality of typical CRM software by delivering project management and workflow tools, content management, and a bevy of third-party integrations. Through Salesforce AppExchange, business users gain instant access to easy third-party integrations. While third-party app integrations are not unique to Salesforce, the variety and quantity of apps the Salesforce store offers are far greater than the competitions.

Additionally, companies that use legacy systems or proprietary software and want to integrate them with Salesforce may either do so themselves in house or take advantage of the software giant's comprehensive team of implementation and customization support staff. Since Salesforce regularly works with enterprise-level clients whose needs are specific and numerous, it has more than enough consultation services to assist with any level of customization small and midsize businesses could need.

For entrepreneurs who prefer to keep things in-house, Salesforce has an active online user community, and since it's so widely used, an inclusive catalog of training resources and implementation documentation is also available online.

Key takeaway: Salesforce has a very straightforward system, provides access to useful third-party integrations and offers a variety of customization options. 

Salesforce Cons

Through research, we found that many smaller organizations (especially those that are not particularly tech savvy) describe Salesforce as very confusing and difficult to implement and use. Many such users expressed great frustration at figuring out how to set up basic user permissions and manage the admin side of the implementation process. Several clients said they had to resort to expensive support services from Salesforce.

Customer service was not a strong suit for Salesforce either. Sales representatives were hard to get in contact with, and finding someone to speak about the pricing and features was difficult.

Key takeaway: Some users have reported that Salesforce can be difficult to set up. Additionally, it can be hard to contact a Salesforce support rep.

Customer Support

Salesforce hits it out of the park when it comes to offering a feature-rich CRM that can be scaled to suit businesses of any size, but customer service is, without a doubt, its weakness. It was very difficult to get a sales representative on the phone, especially when it came to explaining the pricing and features. When we did finally speak with someone, they were very clear and transparent about their offerings, which we appreciated.

Salesforce has a bad reputation with the Better Business Bureau. The company scored a D- with the rating agency, and three complaints were closed within the last year. While this may not reflect the company's total service, it's still something to keep in mind.

To speak with a Salesforce representative, you can call or chat with them online through their website.

Key takeaway: Salesforce customer service representatives are very difficult to get on the phone.

Ready to choose a CRM solution? Here's a breakdown of our full coverage:

Editor's note: Looking for the right CRM software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs. 

Image Credit: shironosov / Getty Images
Salesforce

Salesforce

Best CRM Software of 2020

The Verdict

Salesforce is our choice as the best CRM for growing business because it comes with an array of features that are useful to businesses at any stage of development.

Simone Johnson: Writer
Simone Johnson,
Business News Daily Writer
See Simone's Profile
Simone R. Johnson was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from the University of Rochester in 2017 with a dual degree in English language media and communications and film media production. She has been a reporter for several New York publications prior to joining Business News Daily and business.com as a full-time staff writer. When she isn't writing, she enjoys community enrichment projects that serve disadvantaged groups and rereading her favorite novels.