Why Salesforce?

Allan Benamer explains why he selected Salesforce.com for a nonprofit solution:

Way too many reasons to pick salesforce.com.

Let’s compare it to Convio, everybody’s whipping boy right now. Can you easily build your own custom application in Convio? That is, can you use Convio for MORE than just CRM features? Could you conceivably use it for case management and other kinds of databases? That’s a no, at least not without paying Convio’s consulting fees. With salesforce.com, you can build your own application with very little intervention from outside consultants.

With Convio, do you have the ability to programatically access the data your workers typed into Convio? No? You mean you have to do a manual datasync? You mean Convio’s auto-dump of data to an FTP server doesn’t work for you? Well, you can use salesforce.com’s open API to pull that data you want into any application that can access salesforce.com’s SOAP endpoint URL. What happens if salesforce.com goes down just like GetActive did a couple of days ago? Well, with salesforce.com, they have a RIA client that will cache your data entry for you. Your users can keep entering data despite salesforce.com or their Internet connection being down. As soon as connectivity is restored, the cached data is sent right back to salesforce.com. I doubt you could do that with any of the nonprofit CRMs right now.

Can other data stores work just like salesforce.com? Sure, you could conceivably host your own database, pay for your own hosting, AND make sure you have a DBA taking care of it but remember, my major constraint on my recommendations was that they were for nonprofits with less than $10 million annual revenues. I doubt nonprofits at this size can do the hosting well enough to make it as stable and as feature-rich as salesforce.com.

Very well said, and exactly what attracted me to Salesforce.com in the first place. I’m listening to a conference call discussion regarding the GetActive/Convio merger. The CEOs started out talking the usual blah blah blah about how the companies will work together, and all those marketing buzzwords. Forget that…all the questions so far have been about integration plans…SOAP, API, extensions. That’s what people in this industry care about. It was clear to me from the start that Salesforce.com didn’t care what I called that tab or how I designed my email. They saw their platform as the hub of my business, without telling me how to do my business. That’s what I needed.

In the conference call, both CEOs just downplayed Convio and GetActive’s integration with Salesforce. They said only a handful of current customers are asking about Salesforce. Bah. I think part of the problem is that Salesforce.com only gives 10 user licenses, which means they are targeting small-to-medium organizations like ours. I also think it’s a mindset issue, given that Salesforce is so entrenched in the for-profit world. Salesforce has their weekly demo for nonprofits, but I think they could do more to show nonprofits just what can be done to customize Salesforce and make it work for a nonprofit. More targeted training and support specifically for nonprofits.


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