This post has been inspired by one of Nextian prospects who (in a very early stage meeting) asked:
What can Salesforce do for a telecommunications company?
It is a great question, but it is very difficult to come up with a simple and short answer: should the answer begin with CRM, CPQ, service management, marketing automation, billing or maybe something else?
The question was almost immediately followed by:
Why do you think Salesforce would be a good long-term choice for us?
This post is an attempt to answer to both of these questions in an ‘elevator-pitch’ fashion.
Salesforce as an ecosystem
The first step is to understand that Salesforce is an entire ecosystem spanning many business functions.
Yes, it us used as a CRM for the most part, but it also has many Salesforce-provided platform components (e.g. Service Cloud for service management, Communities for user portals) as well as thousands of ISV Partners (like Nextian) offering their own products (like Nextian Service Analyzer) for specific markets via AppExchange (which is Salesforce on-line store).
So, it is like a SQL database or Microsoft Excel — it is up to a user to decide how to use it.
Now, this is important because the results will be proportional to investment into planning, customization, etc. This is not to say that using vanilla Salesforce as a CRM is bad, it is only not exploiting its potential to the full extent.
Salesforce ecosystem is vast, navigation can be quite complex, and the right choices are not always obvious.
In order to embark on the journey, we strongly recommend using a partner and quote-to-cash as a framework for establishing the roadmap.
Quote-to-cash (or QTC or Q2C) is a way for designing and implementing integration and automated management of end-to-end business processes from sales to billing. The advantage is that it follows the revenue, and that Salesforce is designed around QTC principles (the latter makes implementation easier).
Please also take a look at this post for Nextian unique Z-model for establishing quote-to-cash implementation priorities.
- Industry standard with a huge customer base (#1 CRM worldwide)
- Extensive network of service partners and independent consultants to help
- Popular among developers — large pool of talent to hire from (as of December 2019 Salesforce claims to have 6 million developers worldwide)
- Used by many telcos and service providers worldwide — easier customer audits and investor due diligence
- Ecosystem spanning entire quote to cash continuum with thousands of partner applications
- Single platform reducing need for integration projects, reducing costs and process error-rates
- Metadata-based platform design enabling extensive customizations (e.g. adding data fields, validations, custom UI components, etc.) facilitating implementation of complicated service providers’ business processes and data structures
- Ability to add/remove components and change functionality to match evolving business requirements
- Effective customer interactions with a 360° view (CRM is after all a customer-relationship management): opportunities, quotes, current services, customer-reported issues, billing all the way to finance with Financial Force
- Favorable cost of development — feature development in APEX and Lightning is much quicker as compared to traditional application development in C#, Java or Node.js (Nextian internal estimate is 50% on average). This is important for service providers that usually require extensive development/customization of Salesforce
Salesforce offers an excellent ecosystems for end-to-end business management for telcos and service providers, including some of the largest players on the market such as Zayo, Windstream and AT&T.
The implementation challenges lie in architecture design, selecting proper components, establishing a roadmap, selecting priorities and delivery discipline.
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