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Published Monday, August 24, 2020

If Salesforce does it, you have to do it too.

Whatever Salesforce does, they’re doing if for a reason - backed up by deep pockets in research. Deep pockets you don’t have. So let’s say “Thank you” to Salesforce for the insights, do it smarter, better, and beat them at their own game.

Salesforce needs no introduction. It’s dominance within the CRM market is enough to make any SaaS business manager envious. More than one out of five companies in the world is a customer to Salesforce - in a segment that is one of the fastest growing enterprise software categories of today.

Salesforce-Tower-Side-Elevation-Dusk2

So let’s say “Thank you” to Salesforce for the insights, do it smarter, better, and beat them at their own game. 

But .. being the largest player by far, doesn’t mean it’s the best out there.

Actually, it normally does - but perhaps not in the way you think. Salesforce is not commonly known for its user friendliness, quite the contrary. But it is a robust and reliable platform that can connect to pretty much anything, and you may use it as a foundation for many other parts of your business as a “universal converter”. Salesforce has in its past never tried to become a one-size-that-fits-all product, but rather a reliable system that works as a hub for every other part of your business.

Then I tell you: whatever Salesforce does, you must do too.

That being said: are you a competitor to Salesforce in the CRM market? Then I tell you: whatever Salesforce does, you must do too.

In the 2010s, Salesforce has been especially good at two things:

1) expanding its offering into new verticals, and 2) buying innovative companies in adjacent markets.

In the 2020s, these two strategies have come together to one - and once Salesforce succeeds with what they are trying to achieve, they will change the CRM business forever - again. The market will demand that you either meet up with the new standards and best practices, or you’re out.

So what is it that Salesforce wants to achieve?

First of all, Salesforce wants to stay relevant for sales teams throughout the next decade by launching a more competitive CRM solution that not only addresses the customer relationship process, but rather the collaborative process of the whole company. And the saying nowadays is that “everybody is a salesperson”, and that changes what to expect from a CRM apart from the core features. Some say that more time and business is being conducted through Slack than in any other app. So if Salesforce does not step up, they will start losing business and open up for competitors with a different approach.

And the saying nowadays is that “everybody is a salesperson”.

And how is Salesforce attacking that?

This is where point 2 (above) comes into the picture. When Salesforce acquired Quip in 2016 for $750 million, many asked why. Quip’s founder Bret Taylor is still working on the product, which has up until recently remained a standalone app. This will now change: Salesforce has embedded Quip directly into its core offering, and they now expanded their mission - to end messy document management in enterprises.

Are the Quip features all Salesforce will need to become collaborative for real?

No, but Salesforce has a decent set of features and products for collaboration already. It has Chatter to collaborate on records, SalesforceIQ for sales via email, and communities for both internal and external discussions around certain topics. And now it has Quip for collaborating around files and documents.

So what has taken Salesforce so long to do this?

This is the thing: it takes a while to transform niched products to full-blown software suites. It is hard to integrate lots of different products into a large flagship like Salesforce with all the legacy and technical debt.

Naturally, Salesforce is not buying all these products just to get hold of new technology. They are also buying companies in order to gather experience and competence of the new vertical fields they are entering through the acquisition. This is something a large and dominant player can do with all their research backing it up - but it is not something smaller competitors, maybe like yourself, can do. What you, as a Salesforce competitor, need is a smart shortcut, in order not to lose ground.

This is something a large and dominant player can do with all their research backing it up.

So … given the fact that it took Salesforce several years to integrate what they have acquired - how are you supposed to do the same with your CRM app?

Well, integrating standalone products is not as simple as flipping a switch, but implementing a framework of similar features actually can be. The reason for this is that the standalone apps were built to be … well, standalone - and as such they are not ready for seamless integration.

What your business needs is a set of features working together in a framework that actually is ready for instant and seamless integration. The good thing is that such frameworks do exist, and it’s the next thing out there. You do not need to build those features by yourself from the ground up, and you certainly do not need to acquire other companies either.

What you need is actually just a few lines of code added to your app to squeeze features like chat rooms, messaging, video calls, file storage, document sharing and collaboration right into your app - in a matter of minutes.

So, the big question is not how you do it. The big question is when do you realize that you need to do it to beat the competition.

Whereas chat rooms and document sharing might not be parts of a traditional CRM system, it certainly is in modern ones. Today’s businesses demand that customer service agents can set up pages to discuss different kinds of challenges or topics, and that they are able to find answers quickly together, even while chatting with a customer.

Because you know: Everybody is a salesperson today, sales is moving faster, and is more social - both internally and externally, so your CRM needs to deliver on the new reality.

Reality is that you're going to need to do it rather sooner than later. There is no other way sugar-coating that.

And if Salesforce is doing it, they’re doing if for a reason - backed up by deep pockets in research. Deep pockets you don’t have. So let’s say “Thank you” to Salesforce for the insights, do it smarter, better, and beat them at their own game.

Reality is that you're going to need to do it rather sooner than later. There is no other way sugar-coating that.