A common challenge for people starting using Salesforce (myself included) is to understand what it is. Numerous explanations, tutorials, blogs on the topic exist –  but sometimes the overload of information can make things even more complicated.

It took me a while to put together different pieces of information and understand what Salesforce had to offer. So I thought maybe I could share my findings with all the newbies out there.

 

What is Salesforce?

In the words of, well, Salesforce: “Salesforce is an online solution for customer relationship management, or CRM. It gives all your departments — including marketing, sales, commerce, and service — a shared view of your customers with one integrated CRM platform”.

Salesforce started as a CRM in the cloud, being the first SaaS (Software as as Service) company. To fight emerging competition they evolved to a platform where developers could build custom applications on top of Salesforce, and created a central community where Salesforce users could build and sell their apps. Furthermore, they acquired other SaaS companies to expand their core offers, bringing together to one ecosystem a range of products to address different business processes, such as Sales, Marketing, Customer Support, and so on.

Breaking it down, Salesforce is a cloud based platform that offers a variety of solutions that can be used separately or combined to manage different areas of a business and ultimately achieve customer success. Understanding some of the main solutions is one of the best ways to understand what Salesforce is, so hang on in there:

 

Sales Cloud 

The Sales Cloud, is a solution that enables you to manage your organization’s sales and marketing efforts. Some of the functionalities are Leads, Contacts, Accounts and Opportunities management, forecasting and campaigns monitoring. 

 

Service Cloud

The Service Cloud is the platform for your organization’s customer service and support team. It provides features like case tracking and social networking plug-in for conversation and analytics. Service console for agents, teams setup, knowledge management and telephone integration are also available, all to facilitate customer service agents resolution of cases and improve customer satisfaction.

 

Community Cloud 

It allows the creation of personalized portals for your organization to connect and communicate with employees, partners and customers. Portals can be created from templates and customized, can integrate data from different data sources (Salesforce and third party) and topic pages can be created to organize information by subject.

 

Marketing Cloud 

Marketing Cloud provides one a powerful digital marketing platform. It offers a range of products that allow for management of customer journey, email campaigns, mobile and social media interactions, customer experience and data analytics.

Some functionalities are available throughout clouds, such as Reports & Dashboards, automation of processes, mobile accessibility.

When I previously said these are some of the main solutions, it’s because Salesforce is growing fast and aggregating different clouds and products, such as Analytics cloud, Heroku and Mulesoft. But let’s save these to maybe a “Salesforce: An intermediate user’s view” post 🙂

 

Becoming a Trailblazer

Remember I said that understanding the solutions was ONE of the ways of understanding Salesforce? So what else, you might be asking. Now that you know the theory, it makes sense to actually use the platform!

Luckily for you, for me, for everyone, Salesforce offers a free resource for you to learn and practice: Trailhead.

Trailhead offers a gamified learning environment and playground licenses to get hands-on practice on what you’re learning. There are trails by role, level and project. Also trailmixes – which are “playlists” of trail are typically really useful. With trailmixes, you can train with specific objectives such as to prepare for a certification – and superbadges – challenges based on real-world business requirements.

For each module, project or superbadge completed you collect a badge and hike up on the Trailblazer Rank, besides being able to show your proud achievement to fellow Trailblazers.

 

Want to know more about Trailhead? Click here.

 

Join the Ohana Community

One of the motifs of pride of Salesforce is its community, the Ohana (the Hawaiian word for family).

User groups have also blossomed in multiple cities across the globe. Alongside this, numerous events and gatherings take place on a regular basis. This include: Salesforce Saturday meetups (in which trailblazers gather to win badges together) and numerous events such as Salesforce world tour, basecamps, circles of success, meetups and community events exist. In these events you can listen to great session on the most relevant topics, ask for support, collaborate, work and last but not least: have fun! Nonetheless, it will also inspire you to get more engaged in the community and up-to-date with the continuously improving technologies within the ecosystem.

 

You can find upcoming events on the Community Groups pageTrailhead calendar, Salesforce events page and on our blog release and newsletter.