Salesforce Apps Add Functionality to Cloud Computing

The CRM platform has an entire marketplace of plugins to leverage your business online.

Salesforce apps extend the functionality of the CRM cloud platform, and an online marketplace offers many choices. And there is little doubt that Salesforce is the leading value-added cloud business platform. But the maker of CRM software also had foresight to realize that not every business need could be anticipated. Or that one solution would be appropriate for every enterprise. So it set out to create a marketplace where independent software vendors (ISVs) could offer their wares for use in conjunction with Salesforce—an exchange for Salesforce apps that is something like the App Store for iPhones.

Accordingly, Salesforce AppExchange was born in 2006. Experts state it’s about choice and giving customers freedom to build the best suite through best-of-breed applications—not something that comes out of the box and works for only a portion of businesses. Talkin’ Cloud asked industry insiders to discuss the more utilitarian Salesforce apps that add functionality for MSPs and other cloud businesses.

Salesforce Apps for Contracts and HR

Some of the stickiest problems cloud companies face include contract reviews and human resources (HR). Of course, there have been many standalone solutions designed to tackle these problems from DocuSign and Adobe Sign to PeopleSoft and Workday—in fact there are Workday Salesforce apps connectors. But there was something about building Salesforce apps atop Salesforce that motivated three C-level executives to leave DocuSign and go to Conga, a document and contract automation solution, which describes itself as No. 1 among all paid Salesforce apps in Salesforce AppExchange.

“Conga Composer is one of the most popular and most downloaded apps on Salesforce AppExchange,” says Sienna Quirk, product marketing director, Conga. “Built on the Salesforce platform, Composer helps users optimize their Salesforce investment by removing roadblocks associated with document creation. Composer enables users to build and distribute robust, sophisticated documents including presentations, sales documents and reports by merging data from any standard or custom object into templates.”

This should help customers save manual work every month, improve report generation time and eliminate excessive spending by automating document generation, according to Quirk. “Composer is a slam dunk for big and small enterprises looking to cut admin tasks and streamline business processes,” Quirk says.

For Salesforce apps that can make or break the job in HR, some industry insiders recommend Sage People, which transforms productivity among HR departments across the world. According to these experts, Sage People Salesforce apps enable increased engagement, performance and retention, while making it easier for companies to acquire talent. For example, a current Sage People customer improved productivity and reallocated time and resources with Salesforce, enabling one HR generalist to oversee 100 employees, versus 65 without the software.

Salesforce Apps for Professional Services, Financial Management

From a pipeline efficiency standpoint, professional services can be major beneficiaries of Salesforce apps. For example, according to its Salesforce AppExchange listing, Kimble is the most feature-rich professional services automation solution on the platform. It goes on to state that its proven end-to-end management solution reduces complexity across the business allowing Kimble clients to grow 25 percent faster than competitors.

It also claims users can benefit from performance metric accuracy that Kimble appsprovide, including for utilization, effective rates, sales pipeline and revenue forecasting. According to Kimble, users find increased profitability, less time spent manually forecasting or sifting through leads and that processes allow for minimal monthly variability. As proof, Kimble says a current customer reduced monthly close dates from five days to one day due to Kimble software.

Of course, FinancialForce, which claims to be the No. 1 ERP solution native to Salesforce, has Salesforce apps available for professional services automation as well as financial management. Having heard from FinancialForce earlier in the year regarding the state of the cloud and Salesforce apps, the company is more specific now about how integrating its Salesforce apps into Salesforce works.

“Native to the Salesforce platform, integration between the front and back office is streamlined and seamless—rather than bolted on—enabling FinancialForce to unify data across the enterprise in real time,” says Fred Studer, CMO, FinancialForce. “By integrating predictive insights into its financial management, professional services automation and human capital management, FinancialForce allows businesses to optimize time and talent with customers at the center.”

For example, FinancialForce customer Greenway Health, after a merger with two other companies, had three different service management systems. To keep its key business applications on one platform—with one customer record across CRM, finance and services—Greenway selected FinancialForce professional services management. “FinancialForce has saved the company 1,040 hours a year because it no longer wastes time identifying customers, opportunities, projects and schedules,” Studer says.

Salesforce Apps to Protect Data Quality

We all know that a CRM system like Salesforce is only as good as its data. The various customer records that result from sales, leads, touches and so on need to be correctly correlated with the customer account information or it is useless. One of the largest hazards to this data quality comes from the possibility that duplicate accounts and account contacts may be created. Salesforce apps that can successfully execute data deduplication, or dedupe data, will go a long way toward protecting data quality.

“At the end of the day, any database depends on the quality of data stored,” says Amar Trivedi, president and founder, Amdee, a website design and development agency. “Duplicate data is a menace. We have helped many clients clean up their Salesforce instance because it had duplicates. By using DupeCatcher Salesforce apps we know we will alleviate the possibility of duplicates and keep the database clean. With a clean database, clients can focus on making real connections and having accurate data to present to their boards and committees.”

For example, Amdee works with clients who use Salesforce as a case management tool. And when cases are entered, contacts are created manually.

“When we don’t have a deduplicator, we end up with multiple contacts and accounts,” Trivedi says. “This creates a huge issue. Then you can have the same contact being served by two different case managers because they were created twice.”

Emulate Deal Data in Salesforce Apps for Future Success

Every successful sales organization holds up its biggest deals that have been closed and challenges its salespeople to emulate them. Scientifically speaking, the art of the sale is just that—more art than science—Salesforce apps makers have made progress pushing the envelope. Salesforce apps have been developed that capture every step of the sales cycle—from critical success factors that won deals to meeting and email tracking—and dynamically add them to the system. Some of these are the most highly trafficked plugins on the Salesforce AppExchange.

“The Bigtincan AI-powered sales app is the most downloaded sales-enablement app in Salesforce AppExchange,” says David Keane, co-founder and CEO, Bigtincan, a mobile-first sales-enablement platform. “Multichannel sales teams for MSPs use the app to gain on-demand access to marketing materials and sales data so they always have the right information at the right time during every phase of the sales cycle.”

According to Keane, one of the biggest benefits for MSP sales teams is just-in-time learning. It enables them tap their portfolio of products to understand and address customers cloud needs, while having up-to-date information on their product portfolio.

“Salespeople use the app to shift sales conversations quickly, without losing prospect interest,” Keane says. “Each and every user has the ability to seamlessly emulate successful deals gone by. The app is a de facto personal sales assistant that knows who the next meeting is with and what specific pieces of marketing content will resonate with them. The app uses AI to analyze historical knowledge of every related deal that has closed in the past, surfacing recommendations based on best practices.”

Salesforce Apps for Sales Call Scheduling

Ask any salespersons and one of their top concerns will be the amount of time they have to devote to scheduling, confirming and completing sales calls. To resolve that issue, it seems an entirely new crop of scheduling Salesforce apps has come on the scene recently.

One problem can be the tendency for even top Salesforce growth hacks to make appointments outside of the CRM platform, where they go untracked. In fact, most calls, emails and social touches happen outside the system, according to some tech CEOs.

“Salesforce is an indispensable tool for many sales teams, but it has one key gap: it doesn’t help reps execute selling activities,” says Manny Medina, CEO, Outreach, a sales engagement platform. “This is where Outreach comes in. Reps do their work, and it automatically logs all activity in Salesforce and analyzes which activities drive the best outcomes so reps become more effective.”

Outreach claims its customers land 30 percent more opportunities and drive 10 percent to 25 percent more revenue.

Another Salesforce apps maker, Confirmed, a one-click instant scheduler, thinks the solution to getting more sales appointments made and verified is to reduce the friction of the process. For example, if the customer is offered a range of times that fit her calendar and can choose one with a single mouse gesture, sales reps call quotas will fill much faster.

“Confirmed makes it easier for your prospects to say ‘yes’ to your meeting requests, and less likely to say ‘no’,” says David Radin, CEO, Confirmed. “Your invitations by email, SMS or LinkedIn allow your prospect to choose, in a single click, the best time to meet and the best place to meet. Then, follow-on workflow makes sure snafus don’t happen due to mistakes in scheduling.”

Confirmed claims its Salesforce apps increase customer meeting acceptance rate by 14 percent to 25 percent and decrease time and effort to schedule meetings for sales teams as well as logs reps communications into the appropriate Salesforce records.

Another competitor among scheduling Salesforce apps, TimeTrade, actually does function directly within Salesforce, and helps users leverage the power and experience of Salesforce in a new way, according to the company. Benefits to sales teams using TimeTrade include:

  • Pulling in critical resources to close deals faster for anyone on the team
  • Reducing the cycle of calling, chasing and waiting for customers to respond, since they are invited to self-schedule appointments
  • Speeding the sales cycle by accessing capabilities of TimeTrade without ever leaving Salesforce

“An appointment-driven, personalization solution, TimeTrade empowers businesses to connect with their customers, partners and employees in new ways,” says Gary Ambrosino, CEO, TimeTrade. “Customers can book and receive meetings from within Salesforce to generate more qualified leads, hold more conversations and close deals faster.”

According to TimeTrade, more than 500 of the world’s most successful brands—including the largest banks, retailers and healthcare systems—rely on TimeTrade to power live customer conversations and improve the customer experience.

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