Welcome to our latest FAQ Friday, where industry experts answer your burning technology and startup questions. We’ve gathered top Minnesota authorities on topics from software development to accounting to talent acquisition and everything in between. Check in each week, and submit your questions here.

This week’s FAQ Friday is sponsored by Coherent Solutions. Coherent Solutions is a software product development and consulting company that solves customer business problems by bringing together global expertise, innovation, and creativity. The business helps companies tap into the technology expertise and operational efficiencies made possible by their global delivery model.

Meet Our FAQ Expert

Max Belov, CTO of Coherent Solutions

Max Belov, CTO of Coherent SolutionsMax Belov has been with Coherent Solutions since 1998 and became CTO in 2001. He is an accomplished architect and an expert in distributed systems design and implementation. He’s responsible for guiding the strategic direction of the company’s technology services, which include custom software development, data services, DevOps & cloud, quality assurance, and Salesforce.

Max also heads innovation initiatives within Coherent’s R&D lab to develop emerging technology solutions. These initiatives provide customers with top notch technology solutions IoT, blockchain, and AI, among others. Find out more about these solutions and view client videos on the Coherent Solutions YouTube channel.

Max holds a master’s degree in Theoretical Computer Science from Moscow State University. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his family, on a racetrack, and playing competitive team handball.

This Week’s FAQ Topic – Salesforce

Is my business too small to use Salesforce?

Regardless of whether your business is large or small, any business needs a CRM. Salesforce is not just for large corporate organizations. Small companies and startups can gain a lot from using it, starting with a better understanding of your customers. It is also more than just a CRM. It can help you with marketing and customer support, as well as your e-commerce efforts.

While it may be a little intimidating at first, it offers a pretty intuitive and straightforward user experience, and you don’t need to be a technical person or have a developer on staff to be able to use it. There certainly is a learning curve with the tool, and Salesforce offers a lot of different tools to help you learn, starting with Trailhead. The self-help portal that covers everything from development to administration.

Salesforce pricing comes in a variety of plans, some of which are very affordable for small businesses.

How can I efficiently transfer my current sales process over to a CRM such as Salesforce?

While figuring out if you can improve your current business process by implementing it within the Salesforce ecosystem is a topic essential for any business to consider, adapting your process just to match the tool is certainly not the way to go. Salesforce platform provides ultimate flexibility in setting up your process through declarative customizations as well as custom development, which would allow you to properly support and smoothly transition your existing sales process to the platform.

An important prerequisite for your team to become productive on the platform is the completion of the threading available on Trailhead.

Using declarative customizations, you will be able to update the fields for all of the Salesforce entities (leads, contacts, opportunities, accounts, support cases, etc.) to be able to capture any information you already manage as a part of your process. Defining validation and workflow rules will help you carry forward existing steps, and activities your sales, marketing, and support teams currently perform. Advanced customizations can be made using custom solutions leveraging Salesforce APIs.

You don’t need to hire Salesforce developers to perform any of the declarative customizations — your existing staff will be capable of doing it after they complete appropriate Trailhead training modules.

How can an early-stage startup leverage Salesforce to fast track growth?

Let’s start by discussing why a startup will need a CRM. First and foremost, it would be adequately organizing and storing information about leads and customers. Salesforce helps businesses to securely store their data in a way, that at the end of the day, enables a 360 view of their customers. This view allows the team to use it efficiently, better retain existing customers, create new opportunities, and attract new business through cross and upsells. It offers advanced analytics capabilities to help companies answer tough questions.

Salesforce is fully functional out-of-the-box and requires little additional effort to get started, allowing the team to focus on delivering the product and service — very important for an early-stage growing business.

Salesforce enables your business to scale, with multiple products and solutions on the table; a startup can choose the right solution to get started. For example, Salesforce Essentials is a solid place to start, and then continue leveraging more and more parts of the platform as the business grows and matures. And it is not limited to just CRM. Salesforce also provides marketing, customer support, e-commerce and AI. Beyond Salesforce offerings, AppExchange provides a marketplace of third-party custom solutions that further enhance the capability of the platform and its value for the business.

When do I know I should be customizing the OOTB Salesforce experience?

You don’t need to start customizing Salesforce from day 1, but a lot of the platform’s power is derived from its adaptability. Choosing to invest in Salesforce as your CRM can lead you two ways. Adjust your business and processes to work with the platform with some modification, or use AppExchange or a custom development team to adjust the platform to your business process, create integrations, and connect to existing repositories. Starting on the first path, once you get the general hang of it, you would want to start customizing layouts, fields, notifications, automating workflows and approval processes. As your business grows and your use of the platform matures, there will be time to start looking at using a wide variety of custom Salesforce apps available on AppExchange — a marketplace where third-party developers publish their Salesforce solutions. Eventually, you may even get around to creating custom Salesforce apps for your own business using the Build App option or finding a developer to make a truly custom solution for your requirements.

To learn more about getting started with Salesforce, customization, and more check out 3 No-Brainer Keys To Getting Started With Salesforce by our Salesforce thought leaders at Coherent Solutions

Still have questions? Ask Max and the Coherent Solutions team questions on quality assurance and more on Twitter at @CoherentTweets.