Salesforce Tutorial: Introduction to Salesforce
Salesforce is one of the most popular CRM solutions in the business world. Its range of cloud-based products spans domains of marketing, sales, service, commerce, and IT, allowing businesses to build a unified view of customer relationships on a single platform. For this reason, Salesforce proficiency has become one of the most in-demand skills in the industry today.
If you, too, are someone hoping to break into the Salesforce job market and help businesses benefit from well-managed customer relationships, you’ve come to the right place. This post introduces you to our latest Salesforce tutorial series, where we walk you through the basics to advanced concepts of Salesforce and its range of products.
Whether you’re a complete beginner who’s yet to understand what exactly Salesforce is or a professional looking to brush up your knowledge and learn new concepts, our Salesforce tutorial series allows you to broaden your skills in one of the most in-demand technologies in the world.
Before diving into more advanced concepts surrounding Salesforce, you should gain a general idea about Salesforce and what it entails. So, it’s what we will be focusing on in this first part of the Salesforce tutorial series. Let’s start this introduction by going over some background information that you’ll need for understanding Salesforce.
What is CRM?
CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, refers to the process used by businesses for attracting, acquiring, and retaining customers. A good CRM process enables them to manage, analyze, and draw insights from current and potential customer data to increase the quality of their services and maximize profits.
Modern technology has rewarded us with a number of CRM software like Salesforce. With the help of these tools, businesses can now automate and streamline the majority of their CRM tasks, from keeping records of customer purchase history to analyzing data from email marketing campaigns.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of computing services, like servers, storage, networking, and software, through the internet.
Before the cloud, we had to pay from our pocket to set up the underlying infrastructure necessary to install and run certain software on-premise. But the emergence of the cloud has allowed us to skip this costly, time-consuming process and make use of the resources already set up, managed, and maintained by another party, spending considerably less money and time.
Typically, the cloud provides three types of services to its users. Each type is defined based on the nature of the tool or technology we borrow from the cloud service provider. These three types are:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): renting hardware infrastructure such as servers, storage, networks, etc., from a cloud service provider.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): renting an environment that automatically handles hardware and software infrastructure needed for developing, testing, delivering, and managing software.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): delivering software—such as Dropbox, Gmail, and Microsoft Office 365—running on top of necessary infrastructure over the internet on-demand.
What is Salesforce?
With the background information finally covered, we can now get back to the main focus of our tutorial: understanding what Salesforce is. Salesforce is a cloud-based CRM solution comprised of a set of products that assist enterprises in managing and maintaining relationships with customers.
Salesforce product range covers almost every area of customer-related operations—from marketing, sales, service, and commerce to IT—enabling us to build a comprehensive view into all customer interactions on a single platform. Not only that, today, Salesforce has grown beyond a simple CRM solution to integrate more functionalities into its platform. App development, AI-based assistance, and advanced analytics support are only a few such examples.
A little history of Salesforce
To get a complete understanding of Salesforce and its growth, we should look a little into its history. Marc Benioff, together with Parker Harris, Dave Moellenhoff, and Frank Dominguez, founded Salesforce in 1999. Following a SaaS-like model, Salesforce offered its software to customers at a time the world’s tech leaders were heavily relying on on-premise software solutions.
Since then, the company has reached many impressive milestones on its journey to becoming the world’s best CRM solution. Here are a few of them:
- Held the first Dreamforce event in 2003 with over 1000 registered participants and launched the first on-demand software service in the industry named sForce 2.0.
- Raised $110 million in its first public offering on New York Stock Exchange in 2004.
- Launched AppExchange, dubbed the “eBay for business software, as a marketplace for third parties to offer their applications to Salesforce customers in 2005.
- Introduced Apex, an object-oriented programming language that allowed third parties to write and run code on the Salesforce platform, in 2006.
- Launched Force.com, an Apex-based application development platform for developers, in 2008.
- Entered a new market in the business world by introducing Salesforce Marketing Cloud in 2012.
- Launched Trailhead, the online Salesforce learning platform, in 2014.
- Rolled out Lighting experience to modernize the outlook of Salesforce applications and websites in 2015.
- Acquired Tableau, one of the world’s leading business analytics solutions, in 2019, cementing Salesforce’s place as more than a CRM solution.
Salesforce offers a wide range of products that helps businesses to build a 3600 view of their customer interactions. Let’s talk about some of its most popular products in this section.
- Sales Cloud helps sales teams to manage their activities such as contact management, lead management, opportunity recognition, etc.
- Service Cloud allows customer support teams to help customers quickly and efficiently through different channels, including messaging, video calls, voice calls, and emails.
- Marketing Cloud provides a digital marketing platform for marketing teams to collect data from various sources and strategize content for different target audiences.
- Commerce Cloud allows B2B and B2C businesses to build satisfying buying experiences for customers through different channels.
- Tableau Analytics comes with business intelligence capabilities for analyzing and drawing insights from stored customer and other related data.
- Salesforce Platform is the low-code app development platform offered by Salesforce. It was previously called Force.com.
While most Salesforce products, from Sales Cloud to Commerce Cloud, fall into the SaaS category, Salesforce Platform acts as a PaaS for developers to design, develop, and deliver highly performant and secure applications.
Salesforce specific technologies
- Apex is the objected-oriented programming language introduced by Salesforce for app development. Having a good understanding of Apex is essential for anyone hoping to become a Salesforce developer.
- VisualForce allows developers to build custom user interfaces on the Lighting platform. Its markup is somewhat similar to HTML.
Why does Salesforce stand out among other CRM solutions?
Salesforce is one of the best, if not the best, CRM solutions in the world today. When talking about the reasons behind Salesforce’s unparalleled popularity, we can point to some of its key qualities:
- The cloud-based Salesforce products reduce the initial setup and maintenance process’s costs and time and resource consumption.
- Salesforce provides a 3600 view into customer relationships, allowing different departments and employees in a company to find the answers to their problems quickly.
- Salesforce guarantees the highest level of security for data stored in its platforms.
- We can access Salesforce software through dedicated web and mobile applications.
- Salesforce utilizes artificial intelligence to improve its recommendations, analytics, and predictions.
- All Salesforce products and technologies have intuitive, easy-to-understand user interfaces.
Who is using Salesforce today?
Salesforce has become a tool many business leaders in the world today rely on for their CRM needs. Among such companies are:
- Amazon Web Services
- American Express
Who’s this tutorial for?
Our Salesforce tutorial series is designed to give you an overview of Salesforce and how it works. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, the series contains something for everyone to brush up on their Salesforce knowledge. It will be the right fit for you if you’re looking to draw a big picture of the platform before moving on to learning something specific.
Anyone with any level of exposure to the Salesforce platform will be able to follow this tutorial. However, having a clear idea about the following concepts can help you understand certain concepts we talk about in the coming posts much easily:
- Understand the basics of cloud computing.
- Understand how data is stored, managed, and retrieved in databases.
In the next tutorial of our series, we discuss cloud computing in more detail to give you a better idea of how Salesforce’s service model works.