What is Salesforce.com?
Salesforce.com is a company that creates online business applications that allow anyone in your company that interacts with customers and prospective customers to share information in a collaborative, web-based environment. Unlike traditional software companies, Salesforce.com pioneered the concept of "Software-as-a-Service" (SaaS), where its customers pay for a yearly subscription to its services.
Originally designed to have people in Marketing, Sales, and Customer Support have access to the same customer information (to avoid the classic "he said, she said" syndrome), Salesforce.com's products have evolved to now allow partners and other departments within your company to have a unified and real-time view of information.
Salesforce.com's Personal Edition allows individuals to experience what Salesforce is all about - Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that works. Anyone that needs to manage business relationships - with customers, prospects, partners, even potential employers - can learn to use Personal Edition. And guess what? It's free, as long as you plan to be the only person managing this information.
This article tells you how to sign up for a 30-day free Personal Edition trial, and how to avoid any product hassles once the trial has expired.
- Sign up for a 30-day trial. When you enter your information, make sure you note the fine print that says any customer support from the company will cost you $35 per incident. Don't fret, however. There are great resources that the community of users have put together to help each other.
- Open and read the two emails that get sent to you. This has your login information and gives you a temporary password. Click on the appropriate link in the email to automatically be logged in to Salesforce, and to be prompted to change your password. A second email says if you want to be collaborative and have other people within your company record their interactions with your customers, you'll need to upgrade. That's the truth, and that's when you need to start paying. Personal Edition is meant for yourself, so it's ideal if you're a sole proprietor, usually of a service-based business.
- Once logged into Salesforce, confirm your settings first. Before fully soaking in the layout and all the links that you see, first move your cursor to the upper-right corner of the page and click the Setup link. On the left in the next screen, you see a navigation menu.
- Confirm your personal information. In the navigation menu, find the Personal Setup section, and click the My Personal Information link below that. Submenus then appear. Click on Personal Information. Look at your user information. Pay attention and confirm that your time zone is set correctly, as this will affect your scheduling of events. If you have to change anything, hit the Edit button, make your changes, and then hit Save.
- Go through introductory training. Key to your use of Salesforce is a basic understanding of the tabs and how they're interrelated. Click the Help link in the upper-right-hand corner of the application. A separate window opens. Under the Getting Started section, click the Quick Start Guide.
- Put in some real information and try it out! After training, create a couple Accounts, with a few related Contacts. Log sample Tasks, and schedule some Events. Get familiar with the look and feel of the interface, and how your activities are all logged under the Account record.
- Don't go overboard. Personal Edition does have some space limitations, so don't attempt to upload a whole manifesto of documents or a phone book of contacts into the system. Start with baby steps and input the key customers that you interact with on a daily or weekly basis.
Once you've understood how Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, Tasks, Events, and Documents are all related and used, you'll be on your way to being a Salesforce believer.