Misc. / Users

What is Salesforce & Why is it so Popular?

By Ben McCarthy

Salesforce is one of the world’s largest technology companies. Unless you use their software or work with the platform, you probably wouldn’t have heard of them; however, I can assure you that behind the scenes of your favorite companies such as Apple, Facebook & Uber, Salesforce is powering all of them.

You might have arrived at this post as you are looking to buy Salesforce, or your company has just started using it and you are wondering: ‘what on earth does this tool do?’. The concept of an enterprise SaaS Cloud computing tool might sound daunting, but I’ll make you an expert in the next 5-10 minutes!

Salesforce & CRM

Salesforce was founded back in 1999 as one of the first cloud computing companies, that is, a company that delivers its product through an internet browser, and not servers that sit in your companies basement. Marc Benioff, the companies founder, had the vision to create CRM software as easy to use as Amazon. Check out the screenshot from 1999 below, see the vague resemblance? See the full history of the Salesforce story here.

Salesforce back in 1999

Before Cloud Computing, software had a huge initial upfront investment that required skilled engineers to build servers, install software and maintain them, for users to only be able to access that software from inside the company building. Now, enterprise software is as easy to use as Netflix or Spotify, just go to any web browser, and log in to your account.

But what is CRM software, and why is it so crucial to how businesses operate?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. All businesses in the entire world will have some form of CRM. The software simply records who your customers are, what interactions you’ve had with them, and what products they have bought. If you run a hairdressing salon, you might have a spreadsheet or a notebook of your regular customers – if you run a catering company, you will have the same, or if you run a 10,000 employee international conglomerate, you will have CRM software.

21 years later, Salesforce is the market leader of CRM software, dominating over 20% of the market. But since their founding, Salesforce has developed a range of products to support companies connect with their customers.

Salesforce Products

The description above of a CRM gives a very basic overview of what this type of software would contain. However, in reality with small and large businesses alike, the amount of data they need to store and process to support their customers is vast. Employees of the business also need their system to support them in a range of tasks such as sending marketing emails to customers, supporting a B2B sales cycle, or logging customer issues via a ticketing system.

Salesforce has all bases covered with their range of products, allowing businesses to use one system in order to store all the information related to a customer. This is also known as having a “360° customer view”, meaning that you can see every aspect of a customer’s relationship with your business through one system. It’s important to note that Salesforce builds all its products on a single platform, meaning products can be seamlessly used with one another.

Let’s have a look at some of the main products Salesforce has to offer…

Sales Cloud

The Salesforce Sales Cloud is a CRM that supports a business’s sales team. The Sales Cloud was initially designed for B2B businesses, helping them process leads, and guide a potential customer through a defined sales cycle. However, many B2C companies also use the Sales Cloud. The Sales Cloud was Salesforce’s first product and their most popular. Features includes…

  • Lead Management
  • Opportunity Management
  • Quoting
  • Forecasting
A users Opportunity pipeline in Sales Cloud

Service Cloud

The Salesforce Service Cloud is a CRM that supports a business’s customer support team. It helps customers get in touch with a company via email support, live chat, or phone, and then helps the customer agent find and process a resolution to the customer issue. Features include…

  • Ticket Assignment
  • Queue Management
  • Live Chat
  • Knowledge Base
Solving a customers query in Service Cloud

Marketing Cloud

The Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a digital marketing platform that helps you connect with your customers. This product has a range of features that enable you to market to your customers via email, SMS, social, and advertising platforms like Facebook. The Marketing Cloud can seamlessly connect to the Sales or Service Cloud, allowing for CRM data to be passed into the tool.

Creating an email in Marketing Cloud

The products covered above are Salesforce’s most popular, however, they also offer other “Clouds”, including Experience Cloud, Analytics Cloud & Commerce Cloud that enables even further functionality on the platform.

Why is Salesforce so Popular?

There are a few reasons why Salesforce has stayed relevant for all these years, putting aside their amazing company culture which often wins #1 place to work in various countries. Salesforce is regarded as an innovator across the world, others are often envious of the platform they have created that enables companies to provide amazing experiences to their own customers. Let’s look at a few unique ways Salesforce has innovated in the CRM space…

The Platform

As mentioned before, the Salesforce platform is one single system that enables you to plug in all of their products. Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, you name it. But Salesforce also allows you to build your own applications on its platform, using a point-and-click interface (low code), which is very easy to pick up.

Let’s say you want to create an application that onboards customers onto your product, allowing you to ensure you have followed the proper steps and collected all relevant documentation. A Salesforce Administrator can build this application on their platform, allowing it to interact with the existing Sales & Service products. If you’re interested to learn more, the platform is called the Lightning platform.

Flow – A tool that allows Salesforce Admins to create powerful process automation


Another innovative idea that Salesforce has implemented, is the AppExchange. Think of the App Store on your iPhone, or Google Play on Android, they both allow you to search and install Apps to extend the functionality of your phone. This might be an App to monitor your sleep, or just play the latest games. The AppExchange has an identical concept, extending the functionality of Salesforce. Do you need a project management App? eSignature? Accounting? You name it and you can find it on the AppExchange. This has allowed developers to create amazing Apps to solve customers’ problems, as well as allow well-known Apps like MailChimp or Docusign to create seamless integrations.

A small selection of AppExchange Apps


As the world is heading increasingly mobile in how we spend our time, it is only fitting that Salesforce helps users that need to access their data on the go, cue the Salesforce Mobile App! This isn’t some kind of mobile App that provides you with 5% of the functionality of the full browser application, this allows you to access exactly the same information as the full product. it can also be fully customized in order to create unique user experiences.


I hope this article has given you an insight into what Salesforce is, how it works, and the feature it offers to businesses. If you’re interested in learning more about the Salesforce platform, either as a user or someone who is interested in pursuing a job, please sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this article. If you have any additional questions, fire away in the comments below…

The Author

Ben McCarthy

Ben is the Founder of Salesforce Ben. He also works as a Non-Exec Director & Advisor for various companies within the Salesforce Ecosystem.


    Walker Stevenson
    April 29, 2020 3:49 pm
    Nice Salesforce intro, Ben! It would be good to include NPSP in the products. I'm at a nonprofit and would like to show this to some neophytes. Best, Walker Stevenson
    Lucy Mazalon
    May 02, 2020 7:26 am
    Hi Walker, I will pass this on and hopefully it won't be long until we have something for you!
    Suvradeep Dutta
    May 04, 2020 9:09 am
    Hi Ben, thank you for the article. Appreciate, if you could add which certification is helpful for which level.
    Lucy Mazalon
    May 04, 2020 9:41 am
    Hi Suvradeep, thanks, we're glad you found that useful. You can find the information you are looking for on our certification pathways infographic: https://www.salesforceben.com/salesforce-certification-pathways/
    October 12, 2022 4:22 pm
    I'm grateful for your effort

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