What Is Salesforce? Guide To Understanding It And Its Evolution

May 22, 2023 | visibility 2317

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Do you remember the time when all customer data were stored in physical files and customer interactions were managed over the phone? The capabilities of businesses were limited by the on-premise customer relationship management software that had high upfront costs, limited scalability, and a lack of automation. These problems led to the development of cloud-based customer relationship management software like Salesforce which helps businesses to manage customer relationships.

Here in this blog, you will be introduced to the world’s #1 cloud-based customer relationship management software, Salesforce. We will walk you through what Salesforce is, how it works, its benefit for businesses, and the different clouds it offers.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.

What is Salesforce?

As said earlier, Salesforce is a cloud-based CRM software that is used by all sizes of businesses starting from small to mid-sized businesses to large enterprises.

best crm software Salesforce Crm

Salesforce was initially launched in 1999 as a Software-as-a-Service application that was designed to be delivered over the Internet to help businesses strengthen relationships with customers. Since then, it has grown from basic CRM to a comprehensive suite of tools to help businesses manage marketing campaigns, generate qualified leads, build customer loyalty, and so on.

How does Salesforce CRM Work?

Put simply, Salesforce CRM works as a centralized platform to store, access, and manage customer data from all sources. Salesforce brings different teams like sales, marketing, and service together to enable them to collaborate effectively and access all customer data in one place making it easier for them to manage customer relationships.

In other words, Salesforce CRM works to empower businesses to gain a complete understanding of their customer’s interests, buying preferences, purchase habits, and so on. This information helps companies to treat their customers with a personalized experience.

The Evolution of Salesforce CRM: Feature, Enhancements, and Acquisitions since 1999.

With over two decades of presence in the market, Salesforce has gained a strong reputation. Here we have created a quick walkthrough of the evolution of Salesforce CRM from its inception in 1999 to 2023:

history of salesforce

1999: Salesforce Journey Begins to Change the Way Businesses Connect With Customers

Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, Frank Dominguez, and Dave Moellenhoff, some of the most innovative minds begin working on creating a cloud-based platform called Salesforce.

2003: The Birth of the Multi-Tenant Platform and Salesforce Sales Cloud

Salesforce introduced the concept of multi-tenant architecture. This enabled multiple users to access a single instance of an application.

As part of Salesforce’s initial offerings, the Salesforce Sales Cloud was also released. The Sales Cloud, which back then was limited in terms of features, has now become one of the must-have solutions for sales teams to maximize productivity and win more customers.

2005: Introduction of Sandbox Concept and AppExchange Platform

Salesforce introduced the Sandbox environment. It is an isolated testing environment that enables Salesforce developers to perform safe and secure testing without hindering the production environment.

Salesforce also introduced the AppExchange platform which is an online marketplace for businesses to find and install cloud-based applications built on the Salesforce platform. With these cloud-based applications, businesses can extend the capabilities of the Salesforce platform and meet their specific needs.

2006: Salesforce’s Mobile Journey Gets Underway

Salesforce made the notable acquisition of a wireless technology startup, Sendia to strengthen its mobile offerings.

The same year, Salesforce also acquired Kieden Corporation to expand the analytics capabilities of the platform.

2007: IdeaExchange Currently Known as Trailblazer Community Was Launched

Salesforce unrivaled the IdeaExchange to invite customers to submit and vote on ideas related to Salesforce product improvements. IdeaExchange later rebranded as Trailblazer Community and helped Salesforce to adopt the customer-centric approach to product development and improvements.

2008: Salesforce Named as the Fastest Growing Technology Companies in the World

For Salesforce, 2008 was a year of pride. Forbes named Salesforce among the fastest-growing technology companies in the world.

Salesforce also revealed, a cloud-based platform that enables customers to build and install apps on Salesforce architecture using a declarative language. Salesforce also acquired the InStranet, a multi-channel knowledge application for content automation and knowledge delivery that served as the foundation for Salesforce Service Cloud.

2009: Salesforce Launches Service Cloud and Joins Apple’s App Store

Salesforce launched a cloud-based service and support platform Service Cloud. Service Cloud offers a comprehensive suite of robust tools to help companies better manage their customer service operations to improve customer satisfaction and build loyalty.

Salesforce launched the first application built on the platform for iPhone users. This was the first enterprise partner app to be made available on Apple App Store, making it a major milestone for Salesforce.

2010: Salesforce Acquired Heroku

Seeing an opportunity to extend capabilities and make itself a comprehensive platform for several customer services, Salesforce acquired Heroku.

Heroku is a cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution that ties many tools and services together to support next-gen developers to deploy, manage, and scale applications in the cloud.

2011: Salesforce Renowned as the “The 50 Companies of Tomorrow” by Forbes

Salesforce’s relentless pursuit of providing its customers with the best cloud-based solutions to bring customer-centricity to their operations resulted in Forbes’s recognition of it as the “Top 50 Companies of Tomorrow”.

Forbes top 50 companies

Salesforce launched the enterprise social collaboration and networking service Chatter. It emerged as a robust platform for teams to communicate, and share files and data to help them work together on innovative ideas.

The rising popularity of social media platforms led Salesforce to acquire Radian6 to enable enterprises to respond to their customers over social media, blogs, and other online sources.

2012: Salesforce Launched Marketing Cloud

Salesforce unveiled Salesforce Marketing Cloud to help businesses find success with their marketing efforts. It acts as an all-in-one platform to enable enterprises to gain a deeper understanding of their customers and create tailored marketing campaigns for their targeted audiences.

The same year, Salesforce also completed the acquisition of Buddy Media. It helped Salesforce to extend its marketing capabilities to enable businesses to create & manage content, monitor customer conversations, and measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns.

2013: Salesforce Reaches New Heights with ExactTarget and Salesforce1 Platform Launch

Earlier this year, Salesforce acquired ExactTarget, the organization’s largest acquisition so far. ExactTarget is a cloud-based marketing automation platform. This acquisition enabled Salesforce to go further to extend its Marketing Cloud offerings to emerge as the comprehensive marketing platform for businesses to manage all their marketing efforts in one place.

Salesforce also unrivaled the Salesforce1 platform to enable customers to access the Salesforce CRM from their phones. This makes it convenient for the customers to access data, run reports, and collaborate with other team members on the go.

2014: Unlocking the Door to Tech Careers: Salesforce Launches Trailhead

Salesforce launched Trailhead to provide an interactive and engaging way to help users learn about the Salesforce platform, its products, and its tools. It enables the users to learn at their own pace and gain the skills they need to get hired as Salesforce professionals. Additionally, Trailhead also provides certification and recognition to the users for their accomplishments.

2015: Salesforce Unveils Lightning Experience and IoT Cloud at Dreamforce

At Dreamforce, Salesforce announces a completely new, connected, and intelligent lightning CRM experience. This next-generation experience introduces the customers to new features like improved search capabilities and improved navigation. It also enabled the customers to customize their CRM experience to create more powerful and efficient workflows.

At the same event, Salesforce also introduced IoT Cloud, which enabled customers to leverage the unparalleled capabilities of IoT technology to collect and analyze data from connected devices.

2016: Taking a Giant Leap to Revolutionizing E-Commerce with Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Salesforce completed the acquisition of Demandware, a global leader in the multi-billion dollar digital commerce market to bolster its capabilities for eCommerce businesses. Salesforce later rebranded Demandware to Salesforce Commerce Cloud. It provides customers with a robust set of tools to track, analyze and manage customer data to provide a personalized experience to their customers.

Salesforce commerce cloud history

Salesforce acquired Krux which was later renamed to Salesforce DMP to enable the customers to strengthen their customer relationships across every touchpoint.

The acquisition of the cloud-based productivity suite Quip enabled Salesforce to retain its productivity platforms for teams to connect, collaborate and get jobs done.

This year, Salesforce was on its way to making acquisitions that would enhance its capabilities and allow it to help companies reimagine their relationship with customers and open up new growth opportunities.

Another acquisition Salesforce made was Metamind, a deep-learning AI platform. This acquisition enabled Salesforce to facilitate the development of AI-powered applications such as chatbots, natural language processing, image understanding, and knowledge base analytics to improve the decision-making power of organizations.

The year 2016 was also marked by Salesforce’s acquisition of SteelBrick. This acquisition enabled the customers to create and manage their quotes, contracts, and invoices directly from within Salesforce.

Salesforce also introduced Field Service Lighting. It was designed to help customers manage their field service operations such as field service requests, scheduling technicians’ jobs, tracking job progress in real-time, and so on.

2017: Salesforce Introduces Einstein AI and mySalesforce Mobile App Development Tool

Salesforce launched Einstein AI, the world’s first artificial intelligence technology for CRM. The use of Einstein AI extended the capabilities of Salesforce with automated tasks such as customer segmentation, lead scoring, sales forecasting, and so on.

mySalesforce, a cloud-based application was also unrivaled. It offers a robust suite of point-and-click tools to enable everyone from admin to business users to build and deploy modern highly customizable mobile apps.

2018: Salesforce Bolsters Platform Services with Strategic Acquisitions

Salesforce introduced Customer 360 to create a singular view of customers by connecting data from multiple clouds and departments. Furthermore, it also provides customers with real-time insights into customer journeys and interactions.

Einstein Voice was also introduced to enable customers to talk with Salesforce using voice commands.

Salesforce acquired Mulesoft to extend the Salesforce capabilities in the areas of application integration, data integration, and API management.

The acquisition of Datorama, AI-powered marketing, and analytics platform enabled Salesforce to bolster its capabilities of storing and visualizing data from multiple sources.

The same year, Salesforce also completed the acquisition of CloudCraze, a B2B commerce platform natively built on the Salesforce platform. This acquisition enabled Salesforce customers to quickly launch and manage digital commerce experiences.

2019: Salesforce and Tableau Unite to Transform Digital Experiences was integrated into Salesforce to offer a wide range of products and services for nonprofits, educational, and philanthropy customers.

With Tableau’s acquisition, the world’s leading CRM and analytics platforms have been combined. This enabled Salesforce customers to gain a deeper understanding of customers’ data.

Salesforce also acquired the leader in field service management solutions, ClickSoftware. The result of the acquisition was enhanced capabilities of Salesforce Service Cloud to empower every employee from contact center to field to deliver connected and intelligent customer services.

The same Salesforce also acquired a pioneer location-based intelligence software, MapAnything. This resulted in the visualization of asset tracking and route management to deliver an improved customer experience.

2020: Salesforce Expands with Acquisition of Vlocity and Launches Products to Combat the Pandemic

The continued efforts of Salesforce to serve as many industries as possible resulted in the acquisition of Vlocity. This acquisition enabled Salesforce to serve its customers with industry-specific solutions for companies in communication, media, energy, utilities, insurance, health, and so on.

In 2020, Salesforce also launched several products and resources to help businesses and communities to respond to the challenges created by Covid-19. Some of the major products and resources include:

The same year, Salesforce also completed the acquisition of Evergage to facilitate real-time 1:1 personalization.

2021: Salesforce+ Introduced and Completed the Acquisition of Slack

Salesforce completed the acquisition of Slack, the collaboration tool. This acquisition provided Salesforce customers with access to a range of collaboration features like voice and video conferencing, chat, and file sharing, that can be used to improve customer service and streamline operations.

Salesforce introduced the all-new streaming service, Salesforce+ that is capable of offering both live and on-demand tailored for various roles, industries, and lines of business.

Salesforce also acquired Acumen Solutions to leverage Acumens’s expertise in industry-specific solutions like the public sector, manufacturing, financial services, and more.

2022: Salesforce Introduces Innovative Cloud Solutions for Customer Engagement and Safety

Salesforce announced a hyper-scale real-time data platform, Salesforce Genie, which was later rebranded as Salesforce Customer Data Cloud. It was designed to help Salesforce customers deliver hyper-personalized experiences across all areas of sales, service, marketing, and commerce.

Safety Cloud was also introduced by Salesforce to ensure customers have access to the latest security features and data protection regulations.

2023: Salesforce Introduces the World’s First Generative AI For CRM

Salesforce unveiled the Einstein GPT, the world’s Generative AI for customer relationship software. This enabled Salesforce customers to deliver AI-created content across every sales, service, and marketing.

Why Should Businesses Use Salesforce?

Globally, more than 150,000 companies of all sizes and from all industries are relying on the Salesforce platform to grow their business by maximizing customer satisfaction. But does it make sense for your business to invest in Salesforce implementation services? Here we have outlined the different benefits of using the Salesforce platform. You can walk through these benefits to land an informative decision on why should your business use Salesforce:

1. Complete Understanding of Customers

You might hear people saying that building a successful business requires an understanding of customers. This is where Salesforce provides great help.

Salesforce combines data from multiple sources like the web, social media, email, and so on and displays it in a single place. With Salesforce businesses have a detailed understanding of who their customers are, how they interact with them, what product or service they feel more excited about, and so on. This information can be utilized by businesses to cater their product and services to better serve their customers. You will also be able to understand the key areas of improvement to make sure nothing comes in the way of success.

2. Improved Team Collaboration

Every business aspires to build productive, efficient, innovative work environments. Team collaboration is one of the key elements that assist them in achieving this. Team collaboration makes it possible to share ideas, discuss problems, and refine to innovate truly leading solutions.

SF helps teams to better collaborate thanks to its features like contact management, task tracking, document collaboration, real-time messaging, and so on. These features help teams stay connected and work more efficiently to drive value to the business.

3. Improved Customer Retention

Do you know the acquisition of new customers is five times more expensive than the retention of existing customers? The likelihood of repeat customers spending more than new customers is 67% higher. Retaining customers is extremely important to a business’ growth. This is where Salesforce provides great help.

Salesforce implementation best practices enable businesses to get a complete understanding of customer needs that can be used to personalize customer experience to make them feel valued. Salesforce also helps to identify the inactive customers who are most likely to retain the business with you. With marketing automation, you can effectively reach inactive customers by sending them emails, messages, ads, and more.

4. Track and Improve Your Marketing Campaigns

Do you know which of your marketing campaigns is performing well and which require optimization to bring more value to your business? Salesforce helps you do so.

Salesforce CRM enriches businesses with powerful analytics capabilities to track, analyze and optimize their marketing campaigns. You will be able to analyze the effectiveness of marketing campaigns across different channels, who interact with them, how many engagements are turning into leads, critical areas of improvement, and so on. This information can be used to improve marketing campaigns to drive results from it.

5. Automation to Help You Save Time

In a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, an average employee spends 20% of their working hours on repetitive tasks that can be done efficiently with automation. What if your employees could manage to save this time to invest in more creative and productive tasks? This is where automation capabilities come out as a true savior.

Salesforce CRM enables the business to automate a variety of repetitive tasks such as lead qualification, data entry, customer segmentation, email campaigns, data entry, and so on. Additionally, SF can also be used to automate the routing of customer inquiries to support agents according to their skills, availability, language preference, and so on. It can also be used to generate automated reports to help businesses enrich their business processes with data-based insights.

6. Help Your Sales Team Close More Deals

According to a survey conducted by G2Crowd, companies that implemented Salesforce CRM experienced an average sales increase of 25%. Furthermore, another study conducted by Salesforce with over 1.000+ sales professionals found that Salesforce CRM improved sales team productivity by 42% alongside a 24% increase in sales forecast accuracy. These statistics speak loud and clear that Salesforce customer relationship management software is a go-to choice for the sales team to close more deals.

Salesforce CRM offers features like lead scoring, automated lead nurturing, lead management, etc to help the sales team become more productive with their sales activities. Lead scoring guides the sales professionals to the leads that have higher chances of conversion.

book a meeting with salesforce professionals

Final Take

Salesforce is a powerful cloud-based CRM tool that has come a long way since 1999. Today it is used by leading global brands like Spotify, Amazon Bank Services, RazorPay, Genpact, and so on. Since many clouds have been introduced and acquisitions have been made, it is now the comprehensive CRM tool to help businesses improve their customer relationships, streamline their operations, and increase their profitability. At Cyntexa, we are a team of more than 300+ Salesforce professionals specializing in Salesforce consultation, implementation, and integration. If you are looking to take advantage of Salesforce capabilities, we invite you to learn more about our Salesforce development services. Let’s schedule an obligation-free consultation and learn how Cyntexa can help you grow your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Salesforce implementation is profitable for almost all industries including retail, healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, and many more. The acquisition of Vlocity in 2020, further expanded the Salesforce capabilities to expand industry-specific solutions for a variety of industries.

Salesforce offers a variety of pricing models to cater to the need of small businesses to large corporations. The price for Salesforce depends on the number of features and services required by a business. The best practice to access the pricing structure of Salesforce tailored to your business, have a consultation with a Salesforce consultant.

Salesforce has capabilities to be seamlessly integrated with third-party applications. Furthermore, the acquisition of Mulesoft enables Salesforce customers to easily connect their Salesforce data to a wider range of third-party applications, allowing for more efficient and effective data sharing.

No, there are no limitations to the size of businesses that can leverage the great capabilities of the Salesforce platform. It is a highly scalable and customizable platform that can be tailored to meet the needs of every organization. Furthermore, Salesforce also has a different pricing structure which makes it affordable for highly capable solutions for every size of business.

Salesforce CRM for small businesses offers serval benefits such as marketing automation, improved data analysis, increased customer engagement, omnichannel marketing, improved cross-functional collaboration, cost-saving, and so on.

The very first step of the successful Salesforce implementation would be to underline your business requirements. You should create a detailed budget and a plan for data migration, and decide on any necessary customization. You should also access your training needs to make the best out of your Salesforce implementation investment.

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