5 Apps Supersize Salesforce.com CRM


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Supersizing doesn’t always cost extra. Photograph by D Sharon Pruitt.

Want to get more out of Salesforce.com and your CRM program? It’s easy: Just use AppExchange, the online marketplace for Salesforce.com applications and add-ons. But with more than 1,000 applications, and new ones constantly being rolled out, where should you start?

For a list of “must have” AppExchange applications, I turned to Tim Watt, principal consultant at Innoveer Solutions. Here are his top AppExchange enhancements for Salesforce.com:

1) Data Loading And Two-Way Replication

Data migration is a part of every CRM project. So, why not just rely on the free Salesforce.com Apex Data Loader? Because Informatica Data Loader — available in a free version, as well as paid versions with more features — offers a better user interface, as well as running in the cloud and integrating well with other applications.

Data Loader also provides two-way data replication, which is quite useful for keeping a copy of Salesforce.com data in-house, for example in a data warehouse, for reporting and business intelligence purposes.

2) Real-Time Data De-Duplication

While the phrase might not roll off of your tongue, de-duplicating records in real time is essential for avoiding the “garbage in, garbage out” data quality challenge. The real-time part here is simple but brilliant: Whenever a user enters data, the de-dupe software watches for data quality violations. If it detects any data of suspicious quality, it generates a pop-up window. Such as: “Did you mean to add ‘John Smith’? Because someone in the system already exists with that name.”

For real-time data de-dupe, two tools stand out: DupeBlocker lets you create a large number of rules, which can generate real-time pop-ups or be run by administrators as batch operations, for example to review all records added in the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, while I haven’t used it yet, the free DupeCatcher debuted in November 2010 and has gotten popular, quite fast, though probably offers less functionality.

3) Drop-Down States & Countries

In Salesforce.com, users don’t get a list of states or countries to choose from. Instead, they get a text box, and can — literally — enter anything. You’d think Salesforce.com would offer drop-down boxes, as e-commerce websites have done for years.

Drop-down lists are fast. But more importantly, preventing fat-thumbed misspellings of state abbreviations means that your CRM data stays cleaner, and thus more useful, from the start. As a result, when you run a report that groups information by states or countries, you can get the most accurate results.

One useful, related product is CountryComplete, which overrides the relevant Salesforce.com text-entry fields to give you real-time validation and actual drop-down boxes. Again, this might seem minor, but it provides a big data quality boost.

4) Spreadsheet Grids For Editing Multiple Records At Once

Another Salesforce.com add-on punching above its weight is GridBuddy. While Salesforce.com lets you view multiple records or subsets of records at once, you can only edit records one at a time. With Grid Buddy, however, you can quickly see and edit numerous records, via a spreadsheet-like grid. All fields are editable, and when you’re done, just click “save,” once. It’s an easy, fast, and incredibly useful.

5) Force.com Labs

This recommendation isn’t a single application, but a repository: Force.com Labs, where you can access more than 200 free AppExchange applications, developed by people who work for Salesforce.com. These applications don’t offer the same guarantees as functionality built into the core Salesforce.com application. But they’re an excellent resource — both for raw functionality or seeing examples that you might want to emulate when developing your own application. And did I mention they’re free?

Here are three essential applications:

  • Sales Coach emulates a real sales coach, helping people pursue the right activities at the right time, by suggesting activities and content to salespeople — within the Salesforce.com user interface — based on a particular opportunity stage.
  • Inline Account Hierarchy lets you add a collapsible tree view of account hierarchy directly into a page. While Salesforce.com offers similar functionality, it’s not customizable, and seeing this type of hierarchy requires clicking around.
  • AppExchange Dashboard Pack bundles numerous, free dashboards, for sales, marketing, support, adoption, and more.

Obviously, AppExchange offers many, many more possibilities. But to get more out of Salesforce.com and your CRM program right way, start with the above.

Learn More

For more Salesforce.com secrets, see our Q&As with Genzyme Biosurgery and Integra LifeSciences.

And despite our tool talk, remember that no technology — not even Salesforce.com — stands alone. Accordingly, whether your project involves sales, marketing or customer service, don’t forget: First, plan. Second, implement CRM.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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