What is Salesforce?
Salesforce is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that runs in the cloud. CRM software makes it easy to pull together all of your communications and information for your customers (for a brief walkthrough demonstrating what CRM software looks like, you might also want to look at our screenshots of Microsoft Dynamics CRM). The company claims more than 100,000 customers.
What does it replace?
Salesforce and other CRM systems are a big step up from an address book. They pull together all of your communications so that customer information, from the time you first meet someone right through to when they become a customer is stored in a single, central place for all your staff.
How much does it cost?
As with most cloud services, Salesforce starts with a free 30 day trial. A basic Contact Management account costs $5 per month for up to five staff. Prices go up to $360 per user per month.
A CRM system helps you answer one of the most important questions you'll ever ask in your business - "What do I know about my customers?". When you're a one-person business most of the knowledge is easily accessed from within your brain. But as the business grows and you add staff, the volume and distribution of information grows. That means a centralised system that holds and shares customer information will become increasingly important.
Salesforce is a CRM system that works on any computer with an Internet connection. It's flexible and can integrate with other cloud based systems like accounting systems and email so that you don't end up with data in separate, disconnected silos.
Here is an introductory video from the Salesforce site: