Salesforce.com Foundation Demo

Last night we hosted a Salesforce product walkthrough and happy hour in our DC office.

It was our first time hosting an event like this, and we’ll definitely do it again.

We were joined by three luminaries of the Salesforce.com Foundation: Brian Komar, VP of Marketing, Cliff Spitz Director, Enterprise Nonprofits and Kevin Brower, Director of Product Development. In addition, we were honored to have Stuart Longley, Senior Solutions Engineer at roundCorner, and Tim Forbes, VP of Products and Marketing at PICnet. Our approach was to gather in one room local nonprofits curious about Salesforce and the experts, and see what happened. Kevin led a walkthrough of the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack, Stuart showed us around the roundCause set of Salesforce-based extensions, and Tim overviewed the Soapbox Engage product suite.

Throughout the demonstrations we frequently looked away from the screen and asked each other some real questions: Does everyone follow the differences between these products? When would you want roundCause, when would you want Soapbox, and when do you just want Salesforce? As we discussed last night, there is a tool (or the capacity to build a custom tool) for any need. What every organization should do before picking a CRM or a CRM-web integration tool is map out their needs. As the leader of Confluence’s Salesforce Practice, Teresa Plott said, “You shouldn’t just pick a CRM because your best friend at X nonprofit down the street picked that CRM, and it worked for her organization. It may not work for yours.”

Just as important as selecting, implementing, and training your staff on a CRM is understanding and accounting for all of the places on your website that will need to interact with your CRM. Do you manage event registration in your CRM? If so, how will those event signup pages that your constituents use look and work? Is it very important that the user experience of registering for an event be seamless, that the design look exactly like the rest of your site and that the URL not get funky? roundCause and Soapbox Engage both offer beautiful web interfaces for presenting and collecting data. Their suite of services varies, so again you have to know exactly what your website integration and CRM needs are before jumping on board. If you’re using Salesforce with an open source CMS like WordPress or Drupal, a good developer can also find a way to make the website integrations work, on a case by case basis.In addition to enjoying empanadas, brownies, and beer, the evening provided a unique opportunity to cut past the buzz words and glossy demonstration screens and help each other understand technology options.

We look forward to working with our community partners on another event like this soon. If you’re interested in learning about the next one, follow us on Twitter or contact us to learn more about Confluence’s Salesforce practice.