Salesforce: Not All it is Cracked Up to Be

It’s hard not to be a fan of Salesforce, the first CRM company to get mainstream organizations to take the cloud seriously.  Their approach to developing an app ecosystem (I worked on a partnership with the company in the first “class” of AppExchange partners years ago), long before there was an Apple or Android app store, is impressive.

Benioff and Showmanship

And, you have to love Mark Benioff’s showmanship and the uber successful Dreamforce conference held every fall in San Francisco – Benioff has gotten into a “Who can book the coolest old school rock band” duel with Larry Ellison, whose Oracle Open World takes place a few weeks after Dreamforce.  Each event keeps racking up increasingly exotic “almost-has-been” rock stars – Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The English Beat, Macy Gray.  This year, Ellision put on a complete music festival, so that pudgy, white, middle aged CIOs from the midwest could rock out to some cool music while cutting loose here in the Bay Area.

Salesforce Limitations

Still, I am reminded of the limitations of Salesforce as a CRM tool when I use newer, more flexible platforms (e.g. Insightly, Highrise).  As is the case with any software platform, decisions made early on get baked into the app and cannot be changed – A picklist in Outlook’s contact record includes pager and radio options and Windows will still query you about setting up a dial up modem when trying to connect to the internet.  Almost nostalgic.

Salesforce’s search function is really weak, its reporting is still clunky and the very basic construct of lead converting to contact doesn’t fit many businesses I work with.  Salesforce’s idea of a printable report is dumping data to an xls file that you then have to format so as to be able to print them.

But, the company has enough momentum and a large enough installed base that it will be very difficult for newer tools to displace it.


  1. Politely pointed and well-written post. Considering what a massive affair Dreamforce is and how huge SFDC’s installed base has become, the archaic aspects of Salesforce are become more and more surprisingly “nostalgic”!

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