In order to survive in today’s market-focused business environment, companies want to orientate their business activities towards their customers as much as possible. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a tool used for managing customer relationship throughout the customer’s relationship cycle with the company.
In its initial stages, Salesforce CRM was a tool intended for use by sales teams for the automation of sales, that is, for the systemic monitoring of activities with customers and leads, for instance conversations, meetings, e-mail communication etc. For this reason, Salesforce is considered by many to be a sales application.
Over the years, Salesforce has expanded substantially and now offers comprehensive solutions used by other employees within the company who communicate with customers, e.g. customer service and the marketing department. This is made possible by the so-called ‘360°-view of the customer’, whereby all the relevant data is available to everyone who needs them for a better communication with the customer.
With its analytical system functions, Salesforce enables the company’s management to reach fast conclusions and decisions with the purpose of improving the company’s processes and revenues, as well as their further communication with the customer. In this way, Salesforce supports the business strategy related to maintaining profitability of the existing customers and finding new customers, while also helping the company to focus on the long-term relationships which provide value both to the company and the customers.
Several years ago, Salesforce developed the ‘Community Cloud’ platform which allows information exchange and cooperation with individuals who are not company employees but are essential for the company’s business processes: customers and partners.
There are two main types of Community:
- Customer Community – this is a solution intended for customers who need a way to submit and monitor their own support requests. Customer Community gives them access to the FAQ and articles, which allows them to find a solution for their request.
- Partner Community – this is a so-called PRM solution (Partner Relationship Management) which allows for the creation of personalized and interactive web-interfaces for establishing connections between partners. The company provides partners with an overview of relevant information directly from the CRM in real time, which enables them to manage their internal processes in a quality manner. This all-encompassing solution allows partners to manage their business activities, learn about the best practices, provides partners with support and enables them to cooperate with your employees in a safe environment. In this way, the company and its partners work together in order to create and take advantage of new sales opportunities.
Community Cloud is in fact a solution that acts as a ‘window’ to your CRM for your customers and partners, which gives them access to all the relevant data.
A PRM solution enables companies that significantly rely on their distribution channel partners to grow in the market and ensure that their products are delivered in a quality manner.
An example of Salesforce PRM solution. As seen by a partner.
Some benefits of using a PRM system on the Salesforce platform include:
◉ 1. Lead generation and allocation
Even though companies can opt for a way of distributing leads that is most in line with their process requirements, one of the approaches to systemizing lead allocation in a CRM system is to create a shared list whereby customers are automatically redirected to partners according to specific criteria, such as location. What is more, the system enables partners to process their leads through campaigns or through another clearly defined process or method. This is of particular interest to customers who work with a large number of partners.
◉ 2. Monitoring of sales opportunities
Companies use PRM to monitor current sales according to activities run by partners through their sales opportunities. In Salesforce, sales activities are organized in a sequence of phases related to the type of assignment to be a completed by those in charge of this part of the process. At every moment, the company has access to information on the probability of a sale going through. Moreover, partners can use the system to ask the company for help regarding more complex sales, while they can also easily access product information.
◉ 3. Sales forecasting
Companies can generate reports and display them through an interactive and dynamic ‘dashboard’ based on the data gathered from partners in order to create an improved image of their business. On the other hand, partners can create and modify reports in a folder containing data on their customers and sales, monitor KPIs, as well as conduct analysis of good-quality data for upsell and cross-sell opportunities. In this way, PRM allows companies to conduct sales forecasting, which can be then be used, among other things, for production planning and stock management.
◉ 4. Customer satisfaction and loyalty
Not only that companies use PRM to conduct their indirect sales activities through their distribution network, but they also ensure that their customers have excellent user experience either through direct communication with their sales team or with a partner. This adds to customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customers have to believe that the partner providing them with products and services can also offer them the experience, price, and support they need. On the other hand, companies need to trust their partners in that they will offer great user experience to the end customer and therefore act as efficient brand ambassadors.
The Partner Community solution offers many opportunities for companies in terms of improving their partners’ experience and productivity, while it also encourages these partners to act as reliable co-creators of new market values.
Bear in mind that a positive customer experience starts with a positive partner experience.