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Modular CRM: How and Why the Salesforce Business Model Works

In this blog, we explore how Salesforce’s modular CRM solutions unlock the ability to change with your customers.

Change is the one constant all businesses have in common. No matter their industry, size, or location, all organizations need to adapt to evolving customer needs, technologies, and market trends. 

However, many businesses aren’t capable of adapting at the drop of a hat. The resultant setback can lead to lost sales, the inability to carry out certain tasks, and a less personalized experience for customers and internal stakeholders alike. 

Many of these growing pains can be sidestepped with the aid of a modular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. In this blog, you’ll learn what a modular CRM is, understand why Salesforce’s business model works the way it does, and learn everything you need to know to customize your own solution.

What is a Modular CRM?

Modular CRM: A customer relationship management solution comprised of several “building blocks” that can be arranged in different ways. Designed to be customizable according to company needs.

Here’s an analogy: imagine you're building a tower out of building blocks. During the construction process, you would use blocks of all different sizes and shapes to achieve your desired appearance and functionality. One block standing alone won't look like a tower — but by stacking them together, you can architect a variety of structures.

With a modular CRM, your company's entire customer relationship management system is the tower, and Salesforce provides the building blocks. Once you have a base solution in place,  —  typically Sales, Service, or an Industry solution like Manufacturing or Financial Services Cloud — businesses can connect additional products (e.g., Marketing Cloud, CRM Analytics) to provide specific functionalities or operational enhancements. 

Customizability is essential in today's world because, as mentioned earlier, business needs — and customer expectations — are constantly evolving. Having a CRM that you can adjust is crucial, especially for organizations in disruptive or innovative sectors like Financial Services or Retail. 

With a modular solution, a company can adjust its digital infrastructure as it grows rather than attempting to “make do” with outdated or less-than-functional configurations.

Why is Salesforce a Modular Solution?

Salesforce Cloud: From Salesforce, “a loose federation of features that help you accomplish certain types of activities, such as selling products or supporting your customers.”

The Salesforce solution set is designed to facilitate an iterative and thoughtful approach to change, making it the perfect solution for leaders who want a CRM that can scale with their business. 

In that spirit, Salesforce provides a plethora of industry- and functionality-specific products (“Clouds”) that can be layered atop one another for CRM customization.

Industry-Specific Clouds: A Brief Guide

Image description: An example of a Salesforce technology stack for financial services.

Salesforce provides a variety of industry-specific solutions that are designed to address the pain points of their respective sectors. In a Salesforce stack, these products typically act as a foundation, with industry-agnostic clouds layered on top to provide additional functionality. 

Salesforce’s industry-specific products include:

  • Manufacturing Cloud - A solution designed to refine the front, middle, and back office processes of Manufacturing organizations. Manufacturing Cloud facilitates sales agreement and warranty lifecycle management, accurate forecasting, and quick, accurate repricing. 
  • Financial Services Cloud - Designed for financial services organizations, this solution unifies data from banking, wealth management, and insurance platforms and centers that data around the customer. Financial Services Cloud provides tools that streamline onboarding, unlock white-glove service experiences, and personalize financial engagement. 
  • Health Cloud - This platform unites clinical and nonclinical data to provide a single source of truth for healthcare organizations. Health Cloud supports positive patient experiences with tools like the Contact Center for Health, Integrated Care Management, and intelligent document automation. 
  • Education Cloud - This solution reorients educational organizations’ processes around providing a modern consumer experience. Tools like the Recruitment Console, Care Plans, and the Alumni Portal and Directory make it easier than ever to keep your students engaged throughout their educational journeys. 
  • Nonprofit Cloud—Nonprofit Cloud is designed to support every aspect of a nonprofit business model, including fundraising, program and case management, and maximizing available resources. From mass-market and high-touch fundraising strategies to dynamic assessments and intake structures, nonprofits will find the solution helpful in delivering value for their beneficiaries.

Often, companies that would benefit from an industry-specific cloud will start building their Salesforce stack by implementing one. As we’ll discuss in the following section, they can then layer industry-agnostic clouds on top to further refine specific processes, like Marketing or Sales.

Image description: How should you approach your implementation? Check out our infographic to find the method that works best for you!

Unpacking Industry-Agnostic Salesforce Clouds

While Salesforce has a variety of industry-specific solutions on offer, some of its most popular products are industry-agnostic, with features designed to enhance operations regardless of a customer’s industry. 

A few of the company’s most popular industry-agnostic Salesforce Clouds are:

  • Sales CloudSalesforce Sales Cloud is designed to help business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) organizations sell products smarter and faster by centralizing customer information, logging interactions, managing and tracking leads, and allowing collaboration between teams.
  • Marketing Cloud—Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud enables organizations to engage with customers in real-time via omnichannel service. Organizations can create personalized, targeted email and social media campaigns, react to customer actions, and monetize customer data all in one place.
  • Service Cloud – Service Cloud is a customer service management platform that allows businesses to provide top-tier assistance to clients through tools like AI and customer interaction records.
  • Commerce Cloud – Commerce Cloud helps eCommerce organizations enhance customer experiences and grow their client base with tools like customer journey mapping, live messaging, and omnichannel management.
  • Experience Cloud – Experience Cloud connects customers, employees, and partners to online portals or websites that allow them to communicate and interact while ensuring their data is being stored securely.

As discussed above, these solutions can all be layered on top of industry-specific clouds to address specific business needs. For example, after implementing Manufacturing Cloud, a manufacturing organization may decide that its marketing needs to level up (with Marketing Cloud); alternatively, it may choose to focus on refining the customer experience by creating self-service portals with Experience Cloud.

AppExchange: A One-Stop-Shop for Solution Customization

That said, some companies may need niche functionalities that fall outside the realm of a given Cloud. In that case, change leaders — or their Salesforce consultants — might look to AppExchange for a specialized solution. 

AppExchange: Salesforce's cloud-based application marketplace; think of it like the App Store for niche Salesforce tools.

Image description: AppExchange’s homepage allows you to sort by industry, need, and intended impact.

Businesses can select apps for everything from attendance tracking for educators to dealership management for automotive organizations. AppExchange also offers guides to help businesses determine which apps best suit their needs.

Ready to Start Building Your Customized CRM? Contact us Today!

Our team consists of Salesforce veterans, all of whom have extensive experience in digital solutions and operational problem-solving. We serve as a Salesforce implementation partner for businesses in several industries, including manufacturing, financial services, insurance, travel, education, and healthcare and life sciences. 

Schedule a call with us today or visit our website to learn more about how we can help build a CRM that meets your organization’s needs.

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