February 6, 2015

Salesforce Sales Cloud: Looking Under the Hood

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Salesforce Sales Cloud could be viewed as the Cadillac of customer relationship management (CRM) software. Last year, the company took in over $3.6 billion in subscription and report revenue, thanks in large part to contracts with companies such as GE Aviation, Time Warner Cable, and the American Red Cross.

But there are still many businesses that only have a superficial understanding of this product. They aren’t sure if Salesforce is actually a good fit for their needs or how it compares to other solutions. In order to help such companies, we decided to look under the hood of Salesforce Sales Cloud.

Home Screen/Dashboards

After logging into Salesforce, the first thing you’ll notice is the home screen, which is styled like a social media newsfeed. This lets your team see important company and customer updates and get an idea of which team members are working with which clients. It’s also a great resource for collaboration, since users can comment on activity and share relevant information while it’s still hot.

The other main section of the home screen is the Dashboard tab, which gives users a roll-specific summary of goals in progress and a picture of how those goals feed into the sales pipeline. From the dashboard tab, you can also view any open service cases by type or status and create sharable charts. The dashboards layout can be adjusted to suit anyone in the company, from the sales rep to the CEO.

Contacts, Accounts, and Opportunities

In the contacts tab, you begin with an overview of recent contacts, standard reports, and various back-end tools. From here, you can enter specific contacts and view a comprehensive profile that includes social media information, activity and campaign history, along with connections to specific accounts or companies. The account associated with each contact has its own page that lists basic information about the company, contacts within the company, open activities, and opportunities. You can navigate to any of these sections with one click.

An opportunity detail, for example, will pull up pertinent information about a deal in progress: amount, stage, probability, forecast category, related products, and the ability to enter notes, file attachments, and quotes.


The Campaigns tab helps marketers manage and track campaigns across multiple channels and make decisions about where to invest more effort. Similar to the main dashboard, each campaign overview displays real-time numbers related to the campaign’s progress, such as total responses and converted leads. Users can also drill down to individual leads to see which campaign they came from and any associated tasks.


Salesforce’s reports function is built to give decision-makers access to real-time insight about sales, marketing, and service data. In the reports tab, you can create reports on almost any metric by opening standard, built-in reports or by customizing your own reports with drag-and-drop fields, filters, groupings, and charts. Salesforce also offers more advanced business intelligence (BI) features through their Wave platform, which you can read more about here.

App Exchange

If the basic functionality of Salesforce isn’t inclusive enough for your needs, you have the option to extend your CRM with over 2,000 business productivity apps built on the Salesforce platform. You’ll find fully integrated add-ons for sales, marketing, customer service, IT, human resources, finance, analytics, and more. Pardot, for example, is a popular marketing automation system for businesses that want to nurture leads through email campaigns.

The App Exchange also hosts a database of developers and third-party consulting services for business looking to grow and innovate with IT.


With an average user rating of 8.4/10 and some of the most thorough customer support in the industry, Salesforce was recently named as a Leader in Service and Support in our 2015 CRM Market Index. That means a lot of people are loyal to Salesforce, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for every business.

Even the basic CRM package is expensive, and many of the apps essential to performance come at an additional monthly cost, which means Salesforce is more than some smaller business can afford. Compared to other products on the market, it can also be a bit feature-intensive.

Is Salesforce the best CRM solution for your business? Like any new software, that depends on your budget, business goals, and technical resources. But for those that can afford it, Salesforce Sales Cloud is an excellent system.

Top CRM Software Recommendations

1 Pipedrive

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Pipedrive is a sales-focused customer relationship management tool that teams of all sizes love using. It visualizes your sales pipeline and helps to make sure important activities and conversations won’t get dropped. It also sports built-in forecasting, integrations with other software such as Google Apps, MailChimp and Zapier and an API for those who like to “roll their own” software solutions.

Learn more about Pipedrive

2 HubSpot CRM

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HubSpot is an intuitive CRM that makes managing your sales pipeline a breeze. Everything you need to track important metrics, set up time-saving flows and automations, manage clients seamlessly, and grow your business is available in one tidy dashboard. Plans are available for businesses at every stage of growth, starting at 100% free. Start taking the guesswork out of business management today with HubSpot CRM.

Learn more about HubSpot CRM

3 Salesforce CRM

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Drive growth with Sales Cloud 360, the best-in-class sales solution that has helped power the world's best sales teams. Firms of all sizes, industries, and geographies, realize value faster with Sales Cloud 360. Increase rep productivity with data-driven selling by quickly deploying industry-specific apps and best practice processes. You also get access to 150,000+ sales organizations and a 2 million user-strong community that are passionate about sales growth.

Learn more about Salesforce CRM

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