Getting Started with Salesforce: Which Product & Edition?

Share this article...

You’ve finally decided to go with Salesforce for your company’s base CRM and system of operations, and I’m sure questions are flooding into your head on how to approach its implementation and rollout. Let me be the first to say that you are not the first, and surely won’t be the last when feeling a little overwhelmed when trying to learn about the CRM and its core functionality.

Having Salesforce as your organization’s core system of operations may seem like a double-edged sword. Its level of customization, and its ability to be tailor-made to your company’s use-case is expansive to say the least, but implementation and adoption may seem difficult to one just getting their feet wet.

However, that’s okay! The wonderful thing about the Salesforce ecosystem is that it’s filled with forums, knowledge-bases, and online communities driven to help you succeed.  So, let’s get started!

The Product

I want you think of Salesforce as an oak tree (bare with me). On this tree are different branches, correct?  Well each of those branches represent a version of Salesforce that caters to a specific use-case. For example, if you have sales team that needs to track deals and opportunities, it would benefit you to go with the Sales Cloud. If you need something that helps track cases, assignments, and have specific escalation rules, then you would need the Service Cloud.

Of course, when getting started you may need a combination of these products, or perhaps all of them. It all depends on YOUR particular use-case. Although Salesforce has a huge suite of products including Sales, Service, Marketing, Community, Analytics, Commerce & specific industry products, there are three main products that customers usually get started on.

Sales Cloud: Great for Sales teams getting started in building their pipeline and managing their existing accounts. Some of the more upgraded versions have customizable Reports and Dashboards, as well as Forecasting, both of which are crucial in managing revenue and productivity.

Service Cloud: Ideal for teams that are heavily CSM focused, and want to effectively manage Cases, maintain revenue, and reduce churn. Has extensive communication and knowledge sharing features, which allows users and team to solve issues as quick as possible.

Marketing Cloud: This is recommended for teams that are going to be centered around email and social media marketing/analysis, and are responsible for lead generation and qualification.

The Edition

There are two main things to consider when choosing Salesforce: budget, user-functionality, and finding the delicate balance between the two. With each product, there are various editions of each, depending on the functionality you need. Here I’m going to look at the different editions of Salesforce’s Sales products which are their best selling. Sales Cloud versions are broken down into 3 different editions that offer different levels of functionality, at different prices. I am also going to briefly talk about SalesforceIQ which could be compared to a light version of the Sales Cloud, perfect if you are just getting started.

SalesforceIQ CRM

Summary: $25 USD/user/month; it allows for up to 5 users

Key Features: Automatic Data Capture, Webinar and Live Trainings, Follow-Up reminders

Pros: It’s great for small teams just getting a grasp on Salesforce and CRM’s as a whole. Also, the live training and webinars are a plus. The email notifications are big for showing the amount of times someone has opened an email.

Cons: It only gives you one list, and has a limit of 5 users. This might pose as an obstacle to organizations that are rapidly expanding, and need more users/functionality. Also, users that need things like Contact and Account Management, Opportunities and Workflow Automation would have to look towards the more robust versions.

Lightning Professional

Summary: $75 USD/user/month; no user-limit

Key Features: Customizable Reports and Dashboards, Account and Contact Management, Campaigns

Pros: This version is great for SMB’s that are ready to get more functionality and customization out of there CRM. Can suit most sales-driven use-cases with its Opportunity

Tracking and Sales Data. Case Management is huge when dealing with existing Accounts.

Most importantly, it gives the user the ability to create different Reports and Dashboards. Consequently allowing the admin to keep record of productivity rates within the organization.

Cons: One of the big things about back-end CRM functionality is having the ability to give/limit access to sensitive Account and Contact information. The Lighting Professional Edition only allows a limited number record types, profiles, and permission sets. These determine which user or team has access to which record types with the Salesforce database. To an admin, it can be frustrating when having to deal with those limitations. There is also a limit to the number of automation features you can build.

Lighting Enterprise

Summary: $150 USD/user/month; deeply customizable CRM package

Key Features: Workflow Automation; Custom App Development; Salesforce Inbox

Pros: This version of Salesforce is truly a heavy-hitting CRM, even bringing in the Private AppExchange, which allows user access to corporate apps (which can be created through Custom App Development, mind you) for their team(s) use-case(s). Complete with the Workflow Automation, which is huge when having a team collaborate on an opportunity, as well as having Sales Intelligence right in their email with Salesforce Inbox. This version is definitely no skeleton outline of Salesforce.

Cons: With this level of customization comes an equal level of responsibility and know-how in Salesforce implementation and adoption. You will need to have the right people trained up to implement and maintain your system.

Lightning Unlimited

Summary: $300 USD/user/month; full enterprise software package

Key Features: Additional Data Storage, Expanded Sandbox Environments, Unlimited Online Training

Pros: This is the enterprise software package for teams/organizations 500+. Offering unlimited Training and Support, on top of all the other features it has to offer, this version of Salesforce can manage an infrastructure on a global scale.

Cons: Unless you’re IBM looking to make a 2-year transition over to a new CRM for their global infrastructure, most of the Lightning Unlimited version’s features are a bit excessive. However, if you’re an enterprise ready to make a transition from your homegrown CRM with its incredibly unique use-case, then this would be your answer.


We get it; choosing what’s going to suit you and your team best is important, and we want to ensure that your SFDC adoption process is seamless. Hopefully this article has given you a good idea about what to expect when starting to look at the world’s most powerful CRM. These last few questions are some of the most important you have to answer when looking at which product and edition to use. It may seem overwhelming. But fear not! There is a vast amount of knowledge out there in the Salesforce community. You only have to know what you’re looking for.

-How is your organization going to be ran? What kind of departments would you want?

-Who is going to be managing and tailoring your specific SFDC use-case? Are you going to need a consultant?

-How do you want your users to adopt your new version of SFDC?

It is pivotal that you ask yourself these questions before taking the leap and choosing which product is going to best suit your needs. It may seem overwhelming. But fear not! There is a vast amount of knowledge out there in the Salesforce community. You only have to know what you’re looking for.

3 thoughts on “Getting Started with Salesforce: Which Product & Edition?

  1. Great article – I’ll save the URL for next time I try to explain to someone why they need Enterprise.

    One thing, though: you spelled it “Lighting” (missing N) a couple of times.

Add Comment