Salesforce Reaches Out to Small Business With Essentials CRM

Small businesses typically don’t buy sophisticated CRM tools because they’re expensive to buy and manage. Salesforce aims to change that view with the release of Salesforce Essentials with a range of features best suited for small businesses.

Salesforce Essentials for Small Business

Salesforce Essentials is the first release by the cloud customer relationship management company that is designed expressly for small businesses. 

Priced far less than the standard CRM platform, Essentials also incorporates the company’s Trailhead system of self-guided tutorials limiting, if not eliminating, the need for separate instruction in how to use the cloud CRM service. 

One unusual aspect of Essentials is that it is truly aimed at small businesses, not the broader, small-to-medium size (SMB) market. That’s because Essentials is designed for a maximum of ten users at $25 per month each based on a standard Software-as-a-Service model. There is also a free one-month trial version. 

“We’re really targeted at companies with 1 to 25 employees, that’s the sweet spot of emerging businesses that are small for now,” Marie Rosecrans, senior vice president of small business marketing at Salesforce, told eWEEK. A company with more than ten employees is still a potential customer for Essentials because those not involved with the sales process wouldn’t need to use it. 

“This gives Salesforce a more accessible price point and more importantly they’re making Salesforce more accessible from a deployment perspective by including Trailhead and automated services,” Rebecca Wettemann, analyst with Nucleus Research, told eWEEK. “Essentials is priced at a fraction of what they would charge for enterprise versions and it’s designed as a bridge that these small businesses can cross as they grow to other Salesforce solutions.”  

Rosencrans agreed. “Essentials is built on the Salesforce platform, all their data is already there, so there is a seamless path or transition for moving up from there,” she said.  

Hinting at other “Essentials” apps to follow, Salesforce said the initial release includes two apps, Sales Cloud Essentials and Service Cloud Essentials, both available now. Salesforce is also encouraging developers to contribute apps to the Small Business Hub of its AppExchange online store, including ones designed to work with Essentials. 

Sales Cloud Essentials offers companies a comprehensive view of their customers including activity history, key contacts, customer communications and internal account discussions available from one console or onscreen view. Everything in Sales Cloud Essentials is also accessible from a Salesforce mobile app. 

Service teams can use Service Cloud Essentials to setup helpdesks “instantly”, according to Salesforce, and offer customers more personalized service. The Salesforce Lightning Service Console that is included with Cloud Essentials, gives service agents a 360-degree view of every customer interaction in a unified desktop view along with the ability to resolve issues faster whether customers reach out via phone, email, Twitter or Facebook. There is also a Service Cloud mobile app. 

Just like the standard platform used by large businesses,  Essentials includes Einstein artificial intelligence features such as Einstein Activity Capture that automates data entry saving sales reps performing that constant chore. All communication with customers and potential customers is captured and accessible from within Essentials. Emails from customers, for example, are automatically added to customer records. 

Salesforce said research indicates small business teams spend 23 percent of their workdays on average manually inputting data, time that could otherwise be spent finding new customers and serving existing ones. 

In a demonstration for eWEEK, Salesforce showed how Trailhead guides users through the steps needed to set up the system to track the sales process through different stages such as meeting the client, negotiation, and follow up. 

“We’ve prioritized what’s in the different sections based on what high-performing companies tell us they do to be successful,” said Elvis Greer, a director of product marketing at Salesforce.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...