How Small Businesses Can Find the Tech They Need to Grow

July 26, 2017

10:50 am

Small businesses and technological advancements have a love/hate relationship: The right tech can help a business take off, but investing too quickly in it can force to company to burn cash too quickly and eventually crash to Earth. How do you find the right balance? By talking to someone who has the experience you need.

Tony Rodoni, Salesforce’s Executive Vice President of small and medium-sized business (SMB) sales, spoke to me about the steps his company has taken to aid small businesses, advice for any small businesses hoping to grow, and what his future plans entail.

What’s Salesforce’s role in SMB?

Here at Salesforce, we help SMBs understand how they can use CRM technology to grow their businesses. While many SMBs understand that technology can be a game changer, they often don’t have the time and resources to think about large implementation projects. To solve this problem, Salesforce offers easy-to-use solutions for sales, service and marketing, enabling SMBs to find, win and keep more customers—ultimately fueling growth.

We have a team dedicated to helping SMBs, working with them every day to ensure they have the right tools to be successful. We also host pop-up events in various cities across the U.S. to reach SMBs in their local communities and empower them to invest in new technologies that will grow their businesses. Dreamforce, our annual conference, also has a track that includes sessions and workshops that address common SMB challenges. SMBs are part of our heritage—since day one—and we are committed to helping them be successful.

Do any small businesses you’ve helped stand out?

George Street Photo & Video, a wedding photo and video service based in Chicago, is a great example of a small business that significantly transformed with Salesforce. When it was founded, George Street was using spreadsheets, PDFs and shared email inboxes. This made it difficult for them to track customer and prospect interactions, and get one clear view of the business.

George Street deployed Salesforce Sales Cloud to build a structured and efficient sales process. The implementation enabled George Street handle five times more leads and five times more weddings compared. The company also reduced appointment prep time from one hour to five minutes, and significantly decreased the time it took to close out a contract from one week to 24 hours. It’s amazing to see how technology helped George Street grow from a company spun out of a basement in Chicago to a business that operates in multiple cities across the nation.

What is your biggest piece of advice for small businesses?

Invest in technology that can grow with your business and solve for both the challenges of today and tomorrow. SMBs often make technology purchases based on what they need in that moment rather than what they will need in the future, and in many cases, they end up outgrowing their solutions. When making a purchase, choose a solution that can scale with your business and a vendor that continuously upgrades its offerings to keep up with the latest trends.

What do you hope to accomplish over the next year?

To continue evangelizing to SMBs that technology is a necessity for growth. In addition, we want to continue helping SMBs understand how artificial intelligence can empower them to make more informed decisions, without the need for a data scientist. Salesforce commissioned a survey last year that shows 61 percent of small business owners are not ready for AI, believing it’s too complex. We understand AI can be an intimidating for many SMBs, so we created Salesforce Einstein—a set of AI-driven technologies that removes the complexity of data science. Our ultimate goal is to democratize AI so that businesses of all sizes use the technology to work smarter and faster.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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