Salesforce is a bakery
How to explain what Salesforce is to your grandparents (or CEO).
Salesforce is a misunderstood series of contrasts.
- It’s a software giant, but it’s not software.
- It’s a product that does sales automation, but can also be used to manage a warehouse, as well as do pretty much anything, even though it’s name suggests it’s a sales tool.
- It’s a product that you don’t have to configure, but can also spend millions configuring.
- It’s a stand alone product, but it also has it’s own app store.
- It can replace SAP and Oracle, but doesn’t have to, and is still worth getting even if you don’t replace existing systems.
- You don’t need to know how to code, but there’s a programming language for it.
- It’s easy to use, but you should get training for it.
- Get Salesforce and you can do anything, but you’ll probably need more Salesforce to do those things.
- Upgrades are automatic, and you don’t have to think about them, but you should think about upgrading to Lightning.
- It doesn’t need much IT overhead, but you should think about hiring a full time Salesforce administrator.
Ok, so, how to explain this. Think of Salesforce as a boutique, artisan country bakery. The bakery sells cakes, sandwiches, coffee, but also it’s own branded packet cake mix, flour, eggs, milk, baking courses and cookbooks. The other bakeries are happy to sell you cows, chickens and grain, but not just the flour, eggs and milk (it’s a small town).
I could go in and buy a cake, it’s already made, I like it the way it is, even if I’d prefer to change the icing. I wouldn’t need to do anything and I could have it right away.
There’s a variety of ready made products that suit lots of customers in the store. Today nothing suits me, so I’ll buy one of their packet mixes. I’m a pretty good in the kitchen, I’ll probably end up changing the recipe a little bit but my wife might be able to help me with that. The instructions are really easy to follow and I should be ok.
I come in the next day and today I need to order a wedding cake, a very special wedding cake. The bakery can do wedding cakes, but it also knows several other cake makers that it has a good relationship with that can do it. The bakery will supply the premium flour, eggs, milk, and a special recipe for an icing, and the work will be done by a partner chef of the bakery. The chef has done this several times before, and all the clients are happy, so the bakery is happy to keep recommending them. It’s important to note that the flour, eggs and milk that the bakery has, is so unique that it’s impossible to bake a good cake without the bakery’s products. So I could either try make it myself, and I might bake a dud, or I can get the chef to help me.
I’d like the cake to stand on an automated lazy suzy that slowly rotates through the evening. This isn’t something the bakery or the chef has, but they frequently work with a company that has a device that is built to fit most of their cakes. I’m not sure how to use the device, but they tell me that they will install it and give me some help on how to use it. I notice that there is a whole catalogue of businesses and products the bakery works with that can enhance the experience.
After the bakery supplies the ingredients, the chef works with some of the invited guests, and the engaged couple to come up with some ideas. A small sample cake is baked, and we try it and make some changes. Eventually after trying a few variants of the cake, having had a few tastings with guests, we decide that this cake is ready to be completed and prepared for the event. The chef and lazy suzy company will take care of all the logistics of getting the cake and equipment to the venue. They show me how to cut the cake, and recommend that someone is designated as the cake cutter to divide the pieces up. They also show me how to divide it up so that everyone gets a piece.
Ok lets pause for a second.
- The bakery is Salesforce
- The readymade cake is Sales Cloud / Service Cloud
- The packet mix is Trailhead/quickstarts/accelerators.
- The lazy suzy is an app from the AppExchange and the catalogue is the AppExchange
- The chef is a Salesforce Partner
- The eggs, milk, flour are Salesforce force.com/appCloud/platform
- The cooking classes are training courses (obviously)
Sales Cloud is a configuration of the Salesforce platform. Like buying a ready made cake - the eggs, flour and milk have already been combined using a tested recipe to make something you can consume straight away.
But what if you wanted a loaf of pumpkin seed bread instead? It’s similar ingredients, but you’d need to put them together. Depending on how good you are, you can either do this yourself or get someone to help you, or do it for you. You may want a Loyalty Management Platform to track how much each customer spends with you and to send them vouchers automatically. You can use the core ingredients of Salesforce — the milk, eggs and flour — to create this. You might not be able to do it yourself, but there are lots of us that can help you. We may even have a packet mix for your Loyalty Management Platform already.
If your business has 10,000 people, not everybody will like pumpkin seed bread. Some people have allergies, some people hate carbs, some people need it toasted. Even getting to this level of understanding would take a while, let alone the making of the bread. And hang on, how sure are you that pumpkin bread is the right thing anyways? Maybe lets bake a loaf first and see if they like it. (hint — Design Thinking).
Like the wedding cake — if I make the wrong decision, all the guests will have a terrible tasting cake, even though the ingredients were the best possible. If I don’t listen to my guests, realise that apricot cakes aren’t a thing anymore, and ignore my chef’s advice that a 5 layered cake with a chocolate fountain and sparklers that need to be replaced every 5 minutes is probably going to ruin the whole cake, then yes, I’ll end up with a shit cake, and possibly the bakery and chef will get the blame.
But if I use the ingredients well, have a look at what I can buy from the display cabinet, what I need to make myself, and what I need to get someone’s help to make. I can have a great wedding, and I’ll keep going back to the bakery.