As I posted a few weeks ago, there’s a new Salesforce user group for NY area nonprofit organizations. When the conversation at the last meeting turned to whether or not the group would invite vendors to meetings, it was emphatically decided that we’d rather keep the face-to-face meetings to just us users, and have vendors do demos via webinars instead.
The first such demo was yesterday. AppExtremes demoed their product, Conga Merge. I’ve had the trial installed in our Salesforce instance for a while but hadn’t had the time to configure and understand how it works. Now I have a much better idea of what it’s all about.
In short, with Conga Merge you can save a report in Salesforce and then create incredibly sophisticated mail merges with a click of a few buttons without bothering with Excel. Sure, you can use Word for mail merges from any Excel spreadsheet, but the beauty of this application is that it leaves a trail in Salesforce. It will, if configured, go back and add an activity record on each contact indicating that the letter was sent or whatever action you define. That’s where I think the power is. And it doesn’t require Windows, or even Word if the mail merge template has already been created as the application can output to PDF.
I know this will be a huge time saver for our office manager who currently does mail merges one at a time (since that’s currently the only way that Salesforce will leave the activity record). The price? About $30 per year per user for nonprofits which is a 50% discount. We’d only have 2 of us using it, so this isn’t bad at all.
Another cool application for Salesforce is the new mobile edition (Apex Mobile). I’ve been using the demo and I’m seriously considering shelling out the money for it, even if I have to pay for it out of my own pocket. It’s not that expensive since there are only two of us who actively use our Blackberries. I had trouble setting it up and someone from Salesforce ended up spending 90 minutes on the phone with me earlier this week, walking me through the configuration screens until we got it working just the way our organization will need.
This isn’t a browser-based interface. It’s a stand-alone application that pushes Salesforce data to the mobile device specifically as configured in the administration interface. I am out and about a lot, working out of my Blackberry while Laini is at one of her many therapist/doctor appointments. Often I will realize that I need to send an email to someone, but their contact information is on Salesforce and not in my personal address book. With Apex Mobile I can easily look up the contact information for anyone in our database. If I get an email on my Blackberry and I want to log it to a contact record, I can do that. I can check my organization calendar and assign tasks. Good stuff.
Here’s a list of other applications that offer free or discounted pricing to nonprofits through Salesforce.