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What is Salesforce?

May 7, 2019

8:43 am

The Salesforce logo
  • Established: 1999
  • HQ: San Francisco, Ca, U.S.
  • Only available as SaaS
  • Easy to navigate
  • Functionality range can be overwhelming

A broad range of CRM services under a flexible, market-leading platform.

Salesforce is a name you'll come across time and again in the world of CRM. The company was founded in 1999, and has made a series of acquisitions over the years to make it a truly competitive software powerhouse. As a result, the functions of its many offerings can sound as though they overlap a little. But, what they have in common is a focus on how powerful customer data can drive business success.

Salesforce has invested in a strong support team and documentation, and provides a truly high-quality CRM platform. Here's our explanation of what Salesforce can do for your business and how its main tools function.

  • Serves any size company
  • Wide range of prices
  • Free trials available

What Is Salesforce Used For?

Salesforce is a customer-relationship management (CRM) platform that lets business manage customer queries and complaints, and keep in touch with their customers using email campaigns, for example.

Basically, Salesforce lets businesses manage all the conversations they have with customers in one, single platform. This makes it easier to keep track of customer issues, making them easier to manage, and easier to analyze.

The Salesforce platform can tie-up loads of different ways that businesses talk to customers. For example, it can manage social media interactions, marketing campaigns, online live chat, phone calls, and emails.

Salesforce also offers loads of different services which might come in handy for companies. It calls all of its different offerings “clouds” and there are loads of them: Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Community Cloud, Commerce Cloud, and Analytics Cloud to name the most popular. Each comes in at a different price, which you can have tailored to your business with our helpful CRM quote tool.

Fortunately for you, they're all accessed through the single, unified Salesforce CRM platform — making it easier to learn and understand the software.

It's also available on Android and iOS mobile devices, as well as on desktops. This makes it super easy for home and remote workers.

In this review, we'll be looking at the features found in Salesforce's two most popular clouds: Sales and Service, which the company says is a “complete CRM for any size team.” Sales Cloud helps your employees manage sales leads and close deals, while Service Cloud helps businesses retain customers.

In This Review:

Salesforce CRM Features

To get a clearer picture of how Salesforce CRM ranks against some of its competitors, check out this table comparing their benefits and pricing plans and read on for more information about specific features.

Though it's the biggest name in CRM software, Salesforce isn't the only game in town. We recommend checking our guide to the Best Salesforce Alternatives for other high quality CRM solutions – Hubspot's relatively stripped-down freemium model provides a sharp contrast to Salesforce, for instance.

Scroll horizontally on mobile devices to see the whole table:

SalesforceHubspotMicrosoft DynamicsZendeskZohoApptivoamoCRM
Salesforce logoHubspot logoMicrosoft Dynamics logoZendesk logoZoho logoApptivo logoAmoCRM logo
Data cap in basic plan612 MB/user5 documents10GB + 5GB/20 usersUnlimited1 GB base + 512 MB/user3GB/User200 MB/user
Email integrations
Social media integrations
Marketing Campaigns
Intuitive, easy to understand
Email Support
Live Chat Support
Phone Support
Free trial/version
Cheapest paid plan (user/month)$25$50$80+$89$12$8$15
Most expensive plan (user/month)$300$1,200$255$149$100$20$45
VerdictA market leading CRM for good reason and a great all-rounderA strong CRM system with an attractive free tierA robust CRM platform that embeds brilliantly with Microsoft productsAn inexpensive, simple CRM tool that can combine with other plug-ins and apps.Flexible, friendly and effective, Zoho also starts at low price plansStripped-down but a solid CRM platformIntuitive and simple, AmoCRM is a CRM suite that impresses

Compare Salesforce Prices to Other CRM Software Providers

Sales Cloud

Salesforce CRM Quarterly Performance

The Sales Cloud CRM, as the name implies, is aimed at helping a business's agents to manage potential leads and close deals. Among the features it offers:

  • Contact Management — Every contact in an agent's account can be tied to any relevant opportunities, cases, social posts, and open or archived activities.
  • Opportunity Management — List your deals by a variety of qualities: standard price, quoted price, quantity, and any relevant product codes.
  • Lead management — List your leads alongside any relevant context and insights.
  • In-app emails — Agents can email their leads from within Salesforce, speeding up the process and ensuring the agents have quick access to the data they need.
  • Report building — Analytics software helps agents customize their personal reports and charts with no coding, just simple drag-and-drop tools.
  • Team collaboration — Agents can message and send files to other members of their team through the Salesform CRM platform.
  • Outlook and Gmail integrations — The entire teams' work email inboxes can be synced with each other, ensuring contact information is available to all.

Sales Cloud can be accessed via desktop or mobile, letting agents move faster wherever they are: The average Salesforce customer sees a 37% boost in sales.

Service Cloud

Salesforce CRM Opportunities

While Sales Cloud helps a business find customers, the Service Cloud helps retain the ones it already has. It gives businesses the tools to provide their customers with the most useful and efficient customer service possible. The main features it offers include:

  • Customer chat — Through Service Cloud, customers can message with agents.
  • Mobile channels — Customers who prefer using mobile can connect with agents via  SMS text or Facebook Messenger.
  • Social Customer Service — Agents can monitor social media channels in real-time, reaching out to customers who contact the business there.
  • Field Service — Agents can improve onsite job performance with fast access to schedules and inventory. They'll be able to create and manage work orders through Salesforce, on mobile, and with or without the internet. Read our in-depth Salesforce Field Service Lightning review for more.
  • Omni-channel records — Through the Salesforce CRM platform, agents can access cases, assets, accounts, and all the information they'll need, at any time, on any device.

The overall impact of this cloud approach is far greater agent productivity, which leads to far greater customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.

The customer support software solution was found to lead to 32% more customer happiness in one 2017 study.

Video: More About Sales Cloud

This video dives into the main functions of Salesforce's commonly used service, Sales Cloud, which helps a business' sales team manage their clients. All leads can be grouped by source, company, and contact information in a report with an easily customizable format. 

Salesforce Customer Support

Salesforce offers online webinars, documents, and ebooks. Limited virtual training sessions can also guide users through the learning process.

In addition, Salesforce runs the Trailhead program in order to help their customers learn the ins and outs of the entire Salesforce suite. Users can log in to complete a wide range of learning modules and projects to earn ‘superbadges.'

24/7 toll-free phone support, developer support, and unlimited online training options are available at an additional charge unless your business is subscribed to the Lightning Unlimited service plan.

Support & Training

Support options

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Live chat

Training options

  • Documentation
  • Ebooks
  • Webinars
  • Live Training

Salesforce Pricing

Pricing and plans vary for Salesforce's suite of services. 

The Sales and Service Clouds are bundled into three service plan tiers: Lightning Professional costs $100/user/month, billed annually, while Lightning Enterprise costs $175/user/month, billed annually, and allows greater access to automated workflow solutions. The top tier, Lightning Unlimited, costs $325/user/month, billed annually, and opens up access to unlimited training, support, and developer tools. All three plans include the features listed in our review of the Sales and Service clouds, however.

The Sales Cloud and Service Cloud are each available separately under the same tiers for $74, $150, and $300/month/user, respectively. In addition, a $25/month out-of-the-box service plan, Salesforce Essentials, allows a small business of up to 5 users to use either the Sales or Service cloud.

Other Salesforce clouds and services are available separately for comparable monthly service plans, though pricing for some depends on additional factors and must be delivered through custom quotes rather than a unilateral fee.

Find out more in our full Salesforce Pricing guide

The Verdict – Should You Choose Salesforce?

Salesforce is the leading name in CRM software for good reason. Granted, its many-tentacled software options can be overwhelming, but the company offers plenty of supporting databases, documents, and live or virtual training options to help you conquer the learning curve.

Once your team understands the services, the incredible customization will become a strength. Salesforce provides a great overall value that can boost sales and retention. And now, you can get a price tailored to your business with our CRM quote tool now.

How does Salesforce cost compared to other CRM providers? Find out here!

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Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for the last decade. He's also a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry (and Digital Book World 2018 award finalist) and has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect. When not glued to TechMeme, he loves obsessing over 1970s sci-fi art.