In my years as a help desk pro, I can attest to the fact that many small businesses struggle to find a CRM platform that ticks all of their boxes for necessary features. Plus, full solutions like Salesforce are usually too expensive and had more features than necessary for the small business setting.
There may be hope on the horizon for those small businesses, now that Salesforce Essentials has launched. The first Essentials apps, built on the Salesforce platform, include:
- Sales Cloud Essentials, which is basically Salesforce CRM for small businesses.
- Salesforce Service Cloud Essentials, which is a cloud-based help desk platform for small businesses.
Both offerings are available today, and are priced at $25 per user per month. Plus, Salesforce is offering three months of Google G Suite for free as part of a bundle -- a clear counter to Microsoft Office 365's growing portfolio of management tools.
Potential PSA Competition?: We're poking around to see if the Essentials offerings are designed to eventually compete against PSA (professional services automation) platforms that engage MSPs, IT services providers and IT consulting firms in the SMB sector. But so far, it looks like the Essentials offerings are more horizontal in nature -- designed for all types of small business users.
Salesforce Essentials: Small Business Capabilities
With Essentials, Salesforce says small businesses can:
- Learn with Trailhead: Salesforce's interactive, online learning environment, called Trailhead, is free and can guide Essentials customers through the setup. In addition, Trailhead gives anyone, regardless of their education level or background, the opportunity to develop skills that span Salesforce products, app development and even business skills such as public speaking, the company claims.
- Utilize Einstein artificial intelligence: Essentials includes Einstein Activity Capture, which automates manual data entry to make sales and service reps more productive. When emails and calendar events are received, Einstein automatically adds messages to the appropriate record in Salesforce.
- Work faster with Lightning and the Salesforce Mobile App: Essentials is optimized for any device so customers can work the way they want, increasing productivity. Relevant information is displayed in one unified console and users can easily customize their consoles by simply dragging and dropping components most relevant to them.
- Scale as they grow with third-party apps: Customers can use the Small Business Hub on the AppExchange, the enterprise cloud marketplace for business apps and solutions, to access apps that integrate with Essentials, extending the power of the Salesforce Platform.
More Details on Each App
Salesforce CRM for Small Business: The first of the two new platforms, Sales Cloud Essentials, allows sales reps to view all of their customer interaction and data in one place. This includes activity history, key contacts, customer communications and internal account discussions. Sales reps are able to view this data from any device using the Salesforce Mobile App. Being able to access this data from anywhere is extremely helpful for sales reps that are on the road a lot. Prior to a meeting, they can refresh their knowledge of the company and could help them close the deal.
Salesforce Help Desk for Small Business: Service Cloud Essentials, on the other hand, allows companies to create a help desk environment that allows service agents full view of every customer interaction in one unified desktop view. The platform can handle customer requests whether they originate from a phone call, email, Twitter or Facebook. While service agents are generally not on the road as much as sales agents, the Service Cloud Mobile app will allow them to service customers and resolve issues from anywhere.
In addition to exploring whether Essentials will specifically target MSPs, we're curious to know if third-party PSA platforms for Salesforce (namely, FinancialForce and Kimble Applications) can integrate with Sales Cloud Essentials and Service Cloud Essentials. We'll share answers if/when we find them.
Additional reporting by Joe Panettieri.