With more than 150,000 businesses leveraging its software and over 3,000 apps built using its interface, Salesforce is likely the world’s frontrunner in cloud-based customer relationship management, application development, and enterprise software.
However, Salesforce isn’t just a tool for businesses. The power and scalability of Salesforce have made it one of the most intuitive platforms for creating and powering association management software.
As an association professional, you’ve no doubt heard of Salesforce and its power to streamline the many operations of running an association. But when you’re dealing with a platform that is capable of so much, it can be difficult to wrap your head around how to begin using Salesforce and its many apps for the benefit of your association.
To help you navigate Salesforce and the marketplace of tools that would be useful to associations, we’ve prepared these essential best practices and strategies for making the most of the world’s leading CRM:
- The Basics: What is Salesforce?
- Using Salesforce: 5 Membership Management Strategies
- Fonteva: The Ultimate Salesforce-Native AMS
With this information, you should be far better prepared to join the Salesforce community, confidently navigate your current Salesforce association tools, or even prepare for an upgrade.
The Basics: What is Salesforce?
Before we dive into critical strategies for using Salesforce, it’s essential to understand what Salesforce is, how it works, and what to look out for in regards to strengthening your association’s toolkit. Let’s begin with a brief overview of the Salesforce platform and its key benefits.
What is Salesforce used for?
Salesforce is the world’s leading cloud-based CRM software provider. It allows users to leverage its platform to manage their data, connect with their constituents, and enhance the internal operations of their organizations.
However, for association professionals not well-acquainted with the technical side of their membership’s operations, this definition might sound a bit confusing. In simple terms, you can think of Salesforce as the engine through which different organizations build out their management systems.
Salesforce itself is not an association management software (AMS)—it’s the foundation upon which association experts have created association management platforms, like Fonteva.
How can Salesforce benefit your association?
There’s a reason that Salesforce is considered the industry standard for CRM and native-built association platforms.
Other popular AMS software, such as iMIS, can become unwieldy for your association in that these legacy systems require users to have extensive coding and backend experience to effectively perform customizations. Additionally, because this AMS software uses separate systems for its various tools, it can be difficult to move data between your entire AMS suite.
On the other hand, consider how an effective Salesforce platform can help to streamline operations for your association:
- High levels of customization. It’s no wonder why nonprofits, businesses, and associations alike can all leverage the Salesforce platform to the benefit of their specific organizations. Salesforce offers a robust foundation of CRM tools, such as constituent data reporting and constituent portals, on top of which software creators can create custom management systems for your organization.
- Ease of use. While it can take a moment to get the hang of any new AMS system, platforms such as Salesforce offer a safety net for association professionals who aren’t quite tech-savvy enough to exclusively customize their AMS using code. With drag-and-drop interfaces and dashboards, it’s never been easier to navigate an AMS system than those built on Salesforce.
- Member community capabilities. With powerful member portals, a Salesforce AMS enables you to host vibrant member communities. These online communities allow members to initiate conversations with one another, connect and explore your resources, and engage more closely with your organization.
- The AppExchange ecosystem. The Salesforce AppExchange is a robust library of the various software systems built on Salesforce. With a Salesforce-native AMS, you have access to the entire collection of 2,700+ apps that can be easily accessed, purchased, and directly integrated with your current association management tools. Are you searching for association event management software? With the AppExchange, you can save time and money on implementation and messy data imports by integrating your new Salesforce event management app directly into your suite of AMS tools.
Using Salesforce: 5 Membership Management Strategies
Salesforce association management software comes stocked with intuitive, powerful tools and capabilities to take your association to the next level. However, its benefits will be limited if you don’t understand how to effectively use the software that’s now at your fingertips.
To make the most of your Salesforce-built AMS, consider these membership management strategies that take advantage of the platform’s best features:
1. Personalize and Automate Member Communications
Communication is the building block of any effective member engagement strategy, and Salesforce’s comprehensive communication features hold the key to enhancing your member communications.
Rather than sending out general email blasts until your members slowly lose interest in your messages, incorporate Salesforce’s branded email templates into your messaging. This allows you to create unique, custom messages that can be automatically sent out to an entire list of members, with their names and personal details filling in the gaps.
These emails are branded to your association and can be scheduled to send at any time. This means that you can automatically reach out to members with important information about their dues, upcoming events, and other important communications at precisely the right time.
This automation can also be used beyond just emails. Certificates, event tickets, and receipts can all be automated to maximize your member communications.
2. Explore the AppExchange
The Salesforce AppExchange is one of the most valuable resources afforded to you by using a Salesforce-native AMS. With the AppExchange, your association isn’t forced to purchase a pre-built package of tools that aren’t the right fit for your association’s current needs.
Instead, your suite of association management tools is scalable to your association’s goals and growth. For example, while you may not have the bandwidth at the moment to host very many in-person or virtual association events, you may find yourself on the hunt for a dedicated association event management toolkit in just a few years.
With the AppExchange, you can build out your own custom toolkit of membership software, from powerful e-commerce software to seamless membership platforms.
3. Create Thriving Member Communities
With a Salesforce AMS and membership platform, you can create a rich online resource for members to communicate, explore, and access important resources. Leverage these tools to improve the online member experience:
- Self-service portal. A dedicated member portal gives online users access to guides, downloadable resources, videos, and other membership content that helps them to shape their own membership experience.
- Group creation and collaboration. Enable members to form groups within your membership platform. From forming casual, special-interest chatrooms to more formal member committees, your members will be able to take a more active role in your association and how they engage with it.
- Member directories. Membership directories can be used both to promote your association to the public and to offer a way for members to take charge of their own networking opportunities.
Be on the lookout for an AMS that takes full advantage of Salesforce’s community-building features. From empowering members to drive their own engagements to freeing up time for your association team, this membership management strategy can create significant gains for any association.
4. Look Out for Upgrades
Make sure that your Salesforce AMS solution abides by Salesforce’s quarterly update schedule. With association technology constantly evolving, it’s important to be able to rely on an AMS system that is frequently improving to keep up with advances in the membership sector.
With Salesforce, your AMS should be able to install critical software upgrades with just the click of a button.
Best of all, Salesforce operates on a true cloud system, meaning that an AMS system fully built on Salesforce should be able to perform upgrades on any device, at any time.
5. Leverage the Flexibility of Salesforce
One of Salesforce’s most important, popular features is its customization. In particular, be sure to make the most of these customizable features:
- Custom dashboards. Improve your team’s view of member data and allow each department to effectively manage its own workflow with configurable dashboards.
- Custom reports. Track specific key performance indicators, schedule reportage, and better manage your association’s unique data with custom reports.
- Custom messaging. From branded email templates to customizable surveys, be mindful to personalize your messaging with members for maximum engagement.
Through coding or drag-and-drop interfaces, the right AMS system should allow you to easily control and configure your membership management operations within its suite of tools.
If your association is in search of an AMS solution that takes full advantage of the tools and capabilities of the Salesforce platform, then look no further.
Fonteva AMS is 100% native to Salesforce, meaning that our suite of association, event, and membership management tools are built from the ground up using the Salesforce engine.
With perfect integration capabilities between other applications in the Salesforce AppExchange, Fonteva is the best solution for association leaders who are searching for the true Salesforce experience.
To learn more about Fonteva’s association and membership management software and how we can optimize your association’s operations, explore our Membership page.
From simplifying internal operations to enhancing the membership experience, the right Salesforce AMS solution can completely transform how your association manages itself and its members. With these strategies and with Salesforce-powered software, we hope that your association can begin to take steps towards reaching its fullest engagement and management potential.
Want to learn more about association management and engagement strategies? Check out these resources:
- AMS System: What is it? & 5 Solutions. Learn more about association management software, its essential features, and top AMS systems to invest in.
- Member Engagement Strategies: A Guide for Associations. Expand on the membership strategies we’ve shared with you. Explore our dedicated guide to member engagement.
- Choosing the Best Membership Platform: 10+ Top Solutions. Expand your association toolkit with an effective, powerful membership platform.