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In February of 1999, in sunny California, there were four horsemen: Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, Frank Dominguez, and Dave Moellenhoff. They had a vision to build a world-class internet company for Sales Force Automation, and that vision took them further than arguably any of them could have imagined. It’s taken years, guts, acquisitions, and a couple of layoffs. 

Today, Salesforce has often been hailed as the #1 customer relationship platform—taking up an enormous market share—used by nearly 23% of companies worldwide, earning a revenue of 7.84 billion USD in Q3 2022. That’s a lot of trust and success in one technology, so today, I will cover exactly what Salesforce has achieved, why they’re so popular, and which prominent companies use the platform.

If you also consider this vendor for your CRM requirements, I hope it clarifies. If not, check out our Salesforce alternatives list for more vetted options.

What Is Salesforce CRM?

Put simply, Salesforce CRM is a cloud-based technology that helps companies collect and manage customers’ and prospects’ contact information and other data in real-time. It also helps them maintain interactions and connections with them. 

Use of Sales force automation means automating various sales processes like call logging, creating reports, and email follow-ups. However, Salesforce is more than automation for your sales team; they’re not the only company providing this functionality. Other popular CRMs include Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle CRM, and Zendesk, to name a few.

Today, Salesforce includes marketing automation, contact and account management, lead management, and business intelligence.

What Are The Benefits Of CRM Software?

Even before CRM software and the development of the CRM market, the concept of Customer Relationship Management started before the invention of money.  

Traders kept records of debts, paying customers, and the respective owners of goods. They used this information to market, sell to the right buyers, and preserve existing relationships.

And that’s the core purpose and benefit of CRM software today—using customer data to serve them well and, in turn, improve business outcomes. 

Other benefits of CRM software include:

  1. Data integration and management: Customer-related data comes from numerous touchpoints like forms, social media, campaigns, cold outreach, and support tickets. CRM systems act as a data warehouse that ingests, stores, and manages customer data from their relevant sources. This creates a single source of truth and a comprehensive customer database for the company.
  2. Improved collaboration: Before, sales only had sales-related customer data. This never showed the complete picture of a customer’s relationship with your brand. The marketing campaigns they’ve engaged with, if they’ve contacted service or support. With CRMs, all teams have a 360 view of the customer journey, leading to better customer success.
  3. Better data-driven decisions: The presence of data plus AI allows companies to skip the guesswork and make decisions based on real insights. For instance, Spotify uses Al to recommend songs based on what the user interacts with, then uses that data to decide what music to suggest next. 
  4. Improved productivity: If you had to insert and record all customer interaction and information manually, it would take longer to get insights from the data or even organize it for use. CRM software:
  • Uses AI to suggest the next steps based on customer interaction and automatically request product restocking at the right time. 
  • Helps to create automation rules to trigger actions across your systems with menial human input. 
  • Has drag-and-drop builders to help create dashboards and reposts fast.
  • Has message and design templates to send messages and create reports faster. 
  1. Better Personalization: I called a restaurant I usually order from a while back. The support agent knew my name, and I was delighted by the level of personal interaction. To achieve this at scale, businesses must store their customers' details. CRM helps you use your ingested data to tailor your service and messaging to the right customer or segment.
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The History And Evolution Of Salesforce

Salesforce was officially founded in February of 1999. Marc Benioff rented an apartment beside his house at Telegraph Hill, San Francisco. He, Parker, Frank, and Dave brainstormed on the company’s mission, value, and vision. 

Today, these missions and goals will be:

  • A customer-centric company. 
  • A trustworthy company.
  • The first CRM platform using cloud computing.
  • Egalitarian.

Timeline of some of Salesforce firsts:

  • The first annual Dreamforce conference was in 2003
  • Its initial public offering and New York Stock Exchange was in 2004. They raised US$110 million
  • App Exchange was launched in 2005
  • They launched IdeaExchange in 2006. A platform that allows customers to connect with company product managers. 
  • They passed US$1 billion in annual revenue in 2009.

Today, Salesforce is the #1 customer relationship platform, with 90% of Fortune 500 companies using it to manage customer relationships. In addition, AppExchange has over 7,00 ready-to-install apps and certified salesforce consultants with over 10 million installs. There are now around 40 Salesforce certifications.

Salesforce as an Egalitarian

Marc Benioff was always a philanthropist. He incorporated philanthropy into Salesforce because of an Indian Ashram guru, and also, he was tired of businesses being only profit-oriented. 

Here are some ways he kept his word: After Indiana passed a law to allow individuals to use religious grounds as a defense when sued by someone from the LGBTQIA+ community. Marc canceled all his events in Indiana and threatened to remove his investments; other companies followed, and the law was removed.

  • Marc was among the few CEOs who supported the proposed tax to help pay for homelessness in San Francisco, even when most big tech CEOs refused.  
  • The 1-1-1 model is a Salesforce initiative dedicated to giving back 1% of the company’s equity, 1% of its product, and 1% of employee’s time to the community. 

Some more recent examples: Data is based on 2022 operations for Salesforce (February 1, 2022—January 31, 2023)

  • They created a Partner Ecosystem Equaity Report to show the role their partners play in ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion in their Ecosystem. 
  • They partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities by providing internships and career opportunities for students. 
  • They work with businesses through events like the National Black Business Month Block Party and the #WeAllGrow Latina organization’s Las Founders Summit to support networking and community-building. 
  • They added new pronoun and gender-identity fields in Salesforce products to increase customer data accuracy and drive greater inclusion.
  • Their Office of Accessibility improves accessibility in their products, processes, and operations. 
  • They’ve supported more than half of people leaders through Microaggressions in the Workplace training since launching the training in April 2022.
  • They spent $5.6 million to address unexplained differences in employee pay globally. 
  • They doubled the U.S. representation of Black leaders at the VP level or above.
  • More than 50% of their U.S. employees are now made up of underrepresented groups. (Women, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Multiracial,  LGBTQ+ employees, People with Disabilities, and Veterans)                     
Visual representation of Salesforce equality data
Visual representation of Salesforce equality data

Salesforce Employees 

As of January 31, 2022, Salesforce had  79,390 employees globally. However, there was a layoff sprint in early 2023, and over 7,000 employees were laid off, India Times reported. 

Salesforce has also directly and indirectly created new jobs. Directly through their company and subsidiaries and indirectly through their partners, the Trailblazer community and Talent Alliance

salesforce's number of employees worldwide

According to IDC forecasts, the Salesforce economy will create about 9.3 Million net new jobs by 2026, adding $1.6 trillion in new business revenue to local economies.

The survey also found that Salesforce solutions have enabled:

  • 38% of customer respondents to expand their workforce to new populations (for example, stay-at-home parents and people with disabilities).
  • 36% of customer respondents support a more flexible work environment.
  • 47% of respondents want to expand their workforce to more rural and suburban areas.
net new jobs by 2026

A Vention survey reported that:

  • Mid-level Salesforce developers are the most sought-after than senior-level, junior-level, and solution architects, in order. 
  • Among the 50,000 vacancies analyzed, more than 38,000 are related to Salesforce developer jobs, with 72%—16.3% for Administrators, 5.5% for consultants, and 5.8% for others. 
  • The passing score for being certified by Salesforce is 65%.
  • The salary for an entry-level Salesforce developer in the US starts at $55,000; mid-level salaries range from $75,000-120,000.
  • Salesforce senior developer salaries range from $100,000 to $140,000
  • The average Salesforce solution architect's salary is $250,000 per year.

                                                    

Salesforce Acquisitions 

Overall, Salesforce has acquired 72 companies. The latest acquisition is Airkit - a no-code AI agent for commerce business. The acquisition was completed on the 16th of October, 2023. However, the acquisition price wasn't stated yet. The largest known acquisition remains Slack for $27.7 billion.

Salesforce 10 biggest acquisitions: 

CompanyAcquisition Price
Slack$27.7B
Tableau 15.7B
Mulesoft $6.5B
Demandware $2.8B
ExactTarget $2.5B
ClickSoftware $1.3B
Vlocity$1.33B
Krux$800M
Quip$750
Buddy Media $649

Salesforce Annual Revenue 

In 2022, Salesforce recorded its highest overall revenue of $31.4 billion—an 18% increase from 2021. Acquisitions are a significant chunk of Salesforce's massive growth. For instance, Slack contributed an estimated $600 million to Salesforce’s revenue in 2022.

Their in-house products also contributed to their revenue:

  • Service Cloud contributed US$7.36 billion – 26% in total revenue.
  • Sales Cloud accounts for US$6.83 billion - 23% in revenue.
  • Marketing Cloud contributed US$4.34 billion. 

Salesforce generated US$16.85 billion in revenue in the first two quarters of 2023. Globally, the USA generates US$21.23 billion for Salesforce – making it the largest market. The second largest market is Europe, generating US$7.163 billion. 

revenue generated by salesforce photo
revenue granted by salesforce in different regions photo

Salesforce Customers

On average, Salesforce CRM users see 38 percent faster decision-making, an 18.4 percent jump in revenue, and a 35 percent increase in customer satisfaction.
Among their 150,000 plus customers, 49 percent are small businesses with <50 employees and  1 - 10 million USD, 40 percent are medium-sized with 10 - 50 million USD, and 11 percent are large with >1000 and >= 1 billion.

salesforce customers by revenue

By industry, Salesforce is used primarily in services (34.3%) followed by financial services (15.5%), retail trade (13.9%), transortation (13.6%), and manufacturing (11%). Some additional sectors comprise a smaller percentage, which you can identify in the graphic below.

salesforce customers by industry

By country, the United States has the highest population of Salesforce users with 61.8 percent, followed by the UK with 13.9 percent, France with 4.9 percent, the Netherlands with 3.2 percent, Germany with 2. percent, and Australia with 1.8 percent.

salesforce customers by country

By department, the sales teams are unsurprisingly the biggest end users of Salesforce. Followed by IT, support, and then marketing.

the use of salesforce by department

List Of Companies Using Salesforce CRM

Salesforce serves approximately 150,000 companies, including large, mid, or small businesses with a colorful mix of 15 industries. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, here I show a customer list of 40 of the biggest and most popular companies that use Salesforce:

  1. Spotify
  2. Amazon Web Services
  3. U.S. Bank
  4. Toyota
  5. Macy’s
  6. T-Mobile
  7. Aldo
  8. The New York Post
  9. American Express
  10. Canon
  11. The American Red Cross
  12. L’Oréal Americas
  13. NBCUniversal
  14. The Hershey Company
  15. Guess
  16. Uber Eats 
  17. IBM
  18. BMW
  19. Paypal
  20. Ford 
  21. NASA
  22. Swissbit
  23. Southwest Airlines
  24. BetterUp
  25. Unilever
  26. Heathrow
  27. FOX Sports
  28. McKesson
  29. Kellogg
  30. YETI
  31. Mercedes Benz
  32. RBC Wealth
  33. Bently
  34. E.L.F
  35. Boggi Milano
  36. Canva 
  37. City of Toronto
  38. DC Office of Attorney
  39. FILA
  40. Brunello Cuccinelli

So, What’s Your Preferred CRM? 

I enjoyed researching, writing, and testing Salesforce. However, what’s your preferred CRM and why?

I’d love to know how different CRMs contribute to your business needs and enable customer success.
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By Vera Agiang

Vera Agiang is a seasoned technical content strategist, writer and data analyst. She helps B2B SaaS and tech companies increase revenue and drive targeted results using relevant digital marketing strategies. She has worked with reputable B2B SaaS brands like Animalz, Leapsome, Xolo, Zavvy, Fabric inc, and McGaw.io She’s a data nerd who loves to use her knowledge of data, storytelling, engineering, and marketing to help companies make better revenue and business decisions. When she’s not engrossed in writing and analysis, she travels the world and tries new cuisines.