Salesforce for Associations: A Comprehensive Guide
With more than 150,000 businesses leveraging its software and over 3,000 apps built using its interface, Salesforce is one of the most widely used platforms in the world.
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 it can be difficult to wrap your head around how to begin using Salesforce and its many apps to benefit your association.
To help you navigate Salesforce, we’ll cover the following topics:
- What is Salesforce?
- Using Salesforce for Associations: 5 Membership Management Strategies
- Fonteva: The Ultimate Salesforce-Native AMS
Let’s get started by exploring the basics to prepare you to join the Salesforce community, confidently navigate your current Salesforce association tools, and even prepare for an upgrade.
What is Salesforce?
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 other words, you can think of Salesforce as the engine through which different organizations build out their management systems.
What is Salesforce used for?
While Salesforce itself is not an association management software (AMS), it provides the foundation that association experts can use to create association management platforms like Fonteva. An AMS powered by Salesforce provides your association with the flexibility it needs to grow, deepen relationships in your community, and manage financial data in a single platform.
There are a variety of ways to use Salesforce for associations. For example, your association can use Salesforce to manage memberships more efficiently by personalizing members’ experiences and keeping their data safe. Salesforce can also help your organization adapt to changes in technology (like AI) and adjust to members’ needs and expectations more quickly.
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, require users to have extensive coding and backend experience to effectively perform customizations. Because this AMS software uses separate systems for its various tools, it can be difficult to move data among your entire AMS suite.
Instead, consider how an effective Salesforce platform can help streamline operations for your association:
- High levels of customization. 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 association.
- Ease of use. Platforms like Salesforce offer a safety net for association professionals who aren’t quite tech-savvy enough to use code to customize their AMS. 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 association.
- The AppExchange ecosystem. The Salesforce AppExchange is a robust library of 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. If you’re looking for association event management software, 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 the AppExchange.
Salesforce can provide a customizable yet approachable option for streamlining your association’s operations, giving you more time to connect with members and plan engaging opportunities and events.
Using Salesforce for Associations: 5 Membership Management Strategies
Salesforce association management software comes stocked with intuitive, powerful tools and capabilities to take your association to the next level. These membership management strategies can help you 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.
Using Salesforce, you can automate communications to members like:
- Event tickets
You can use Salesforce to level up your existing email communication and marketing strategy. Rather than sending out generic email blasts your members may begin to tune out, 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 information about their dues, upcoming events, and other important communications at precisely the right time.
2. Explore the Salesforce 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 can choose and implement the tools that are suited to your association’s needs and its potential for growth.
For example, while you may not currently have the bandwidth to host very many in-person or virtual association events, you could 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 member 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.
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. Additionally, 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 popular features is its customization. In particular, be sure to make the most of these features to create custom:
- Dashboards. Improve your team’s view of member data and allow each department to effectively manage its own workflow with configurable dashboards.
- Reports. Track specific key performance indicators, schedule reportage, and better manage your association’s unique data with custom reports.
- 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 allows you to easily control and configure your membership management operations within its suite of tools.
Fonteva: The Ultimate Salesforce-Native AMS
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 is 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 toward 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.
- Association Management Systems: 7 Tips for Strong Community. Discover how you can leverage your association management system to strengthen and engage your member community.
- Top Membership Management Software Options & Reviews. Check out this guide to membership management software to learn how to manage your growing roster of members.