Salesforce announced this week that it is expanding its Salesforce Essentials solutions portfolio for small businesses, adding Service Cloud Essentials to its lineup.
This follows on the heels of last year’s Dreamforce 2017 launch of Salesforce Sales Cloud Essentials. As I wrote in this post, Sales Cloud Essentials replaced SalesforceIQ, the vendor’s prior small business sales solution.
Refocusing Small Business Solutions on the Salesforce Lightning Platform
Unlike their respective predecessors, Salesforce IQ and Desk.com, both Salesforce Sales and Service Cloud Essentials are built on Salesforce’s flagship Lightning Platform.
Figure 1: Salesforce Essentials Platform
This solves a few problems. Salesforce no longer has to juggle multiple code bases. Instead, it can focus on tailoring its flagship products for small businesses. Customers can now take advantage of three major releases per year, relevant Trailhead online learning. some of Salesforce’s Einstein AI and machine learning capabilities, full mobile capabilities, and access to integrated apps via Salesforce AppExchange. They also offer a clear upgrade path to the full-fledged Sales Cloud if and when the need arises.
Focus on Growth, Not Grind
The small business CRM in small business is still very under penetrated and fragmented (Figure 2).In fact, most small businesses still use email, spreadsheets, contact managers and point solutions to manage sales, service and marketing.
Figure 2: Small Business Use, Plans and Solutions: Sales, Marketing and Service
Many of Salesforce’s competitors offer point solutions in these areas. A few, such as Zoho and Infusionsoft, offer integrated CRM suites for small businesses.
With its expanding Essentials portfolio, Salesforce now has a strong horse in the integrated CRM small business race. With a unified Lightning user experience, and a common database, Essentials can help small businesses streamline daily operations across both sales and service functions to reduce save time, and get better insights into data and customer trends.
Because these applications are built on the Salesforce Lightning Platform, small businesses can use the AppExchange as a source for other applications they need. Salesforce has curated a collection of small business applications such as Dropbox, MailChimp and HelloSign here.
Salesforce Essentials is big leap forward for Salesforce. It offers small businesses a much more coherent and compelling approach than its previous patchwork of small business apps.
As important, Salesforce is keeping the needs of cash-constrained small businesses in mind. I was worried that after pricing Sales Cloud Essential at $25 per user per month, Salesforce would price Service Essentials separately, which would have been a big turn off for many small businesses. Fortunately, Salesforce Essentials $25 per user per month pricing includes both Sales and Service Essentials. Hopefully, this trend will continue as Salesforce adds new capabilities to Essentials.
Currently, small businesses can have up to 10 users (5 of each Sales Cloud and Service Cloud). I’m concerned that this limit is too low, but I get that Salesforce would like to move growing small businesses into more robust versions, At a minimum, I’d like to see Salesforce change this to make it more flexible, so small businesses could divvy up the 10 licenses in the way that works best for them.
In my December post about Sales Essentials, I discussed a few areas that Salesforce will need to navigate, which still hold true. Key among these are the challenges to:
- Add the most useful new functionality in an intuitive manner so as not to bloat Essentials and make it difficult to use.
- Pairing and partnering with leading small business organizations, vendors and influencers to get the message out that Salesforce now has a small business offering that’s ready for prime time.
Finally, Salesforce needs to add real-time support capabilities, both for on boarding and ongoing support. Time is the most precious commodity for many small businesses. They need real-time support for the answers they need to get and stay productive.
© SMB Group 2018