Salesforce isn’t just for sales.
As a CFO, initial involvement in the decision to use Salesforce in a business environment is likely to have been led by sales and marketing. But it can deliver so much more.
The platform can be the foundation for company-wide digital transformation, which can only help your business make informed, data-led decisions. In fact, Salesforce and the whole ecosystem of apps built on its platform can serve multiple business needs other than sales, including HR, project management and of course, finance.
Whether your finance department is a one-man-band or a multi-disciplined team serving the needs of an enterprise organisation, finance is no longer about just crunching numbers. The CFO and entire finance team are the control centre of a business, viewing each decision on investment or cost reduction holistically. And as a result, today’s CFO is much more technology and analysis driven.
As Mark Hawkins, previous CFO of Salesforce, recently said: “a CFO serves all of the stakeholders of an organisation, on all levels. Finance teams are in fact cross-functional, enabling other parts of an organisation to thrive by offering insights.”
So where does a CRM system fit into all of this? We look at how using Salesforce for finance can help streamline processes, provide intelligence on the relationship between expense spend and revenue, and ultimately boost a company’s long-term profits; something firmly on the agenda for any CFO.
What is Salesforce?
Firstly, in case you’re not familiar with Salesforce, let’s take a quick look at the business and where it sits in today’s business world:
- Salesforce was originally conceived as a customer relationship management (CRM) system designed to bring companies and customers together
- Now it serves as an integrated enterprise cloud platform, giving every user within a company a single, shared view of every customer
- No less than 150,000 companies from every industry use Salesforce
- With 19.8%, Salesforce has more share of the CRM market than its four leading competitors combined
- 83% of Fortune 500 companies are Salesforce customers
- In 2020, Salesforce was named No1 CRM provider by International Data Corporation (IDC) for the seventh year in a row
Impressive stuff. But so what?
The benefits of using Salesforce for finance management
Having real-time access to a consolidated view of your company’s financial data empowers you to make informed decisions across the whole business. The Salesforce platform is your gateway to cross-department data integration, which can inform strategic choices and lead to the following benefits.
1. Provides a single source of truth
Data consolidation and reporting is a common frustration for many finance teams. Salesforce helps remove this particular headache by providing a consolidated view of your business data. Instead of trawling through paperwork or multiple software systems, having all your data, including expenses, on Salesforce provides transparent, reliable and immediate access to the right data to help positively impact business performance.
Having quick and easy access to real-time revenue data can also help CFOs make strategic decisions and accurate predictions. In these uncertain financial times, the ability to make informed decisions and budget forecasts helps a business remain forward-thinking and plan ahead with a clearer understanding of the potential outcomes.
Having expenses on Salesforce extends this even further by providing real-time insight into the true value of business travel expenses. Rather than having to process expenses that may, at first glance, appear indulgent, Salesforce provides the context to balance what your business is spending, with why it is spending it and what the return on investment is.
2. A cost-saving solution
As a CFO, reducing costs is in your DNA. If you’re already using Salesforce at your business, doesn’t it make sense to leverage this investment even further? Salesforce makes it easier for you to control the bottom line and align your overall IT spend with growth.
Having all business data in one place effectively does away with the old school system of front office and back office by giving everyone visibility of customer information. This can lead to a better experience – for customers and employees. The benefits of a customer-first approach also includes helping to reduce the cost of sales and improve customer retention.
3. Puts the customer at the heart of your business
If customer data is split across multiple systems, it is harder to see how business decisions impact customers. As a result, CFOs are naturally more risk-averse and less likely to invest in initiatives that could ultimately lead to long-term sustainable growth.
Salesforce helps customer-centric CFOs make customer-centric investment decisions in the following ways:
- View investment decisions from the customer’s point of view
- Get a stronger sense of how financial decisions impact the customer relationship
- Access to real-time data can lead to more accurate financial predictions
- Customer data can be used to analyse customer revenue, retention, and churn
4. Improves productivity for finance teams
During the Coronavirus lockdown, Gartner reported that 88% of organisations have encouraged or required employees to work from home. In non-pandemic times, according to Owl Labs 52% of employees around the world work remotely at least once per week, and 68% work remotely at least once per month. In an age where employees are working remotely more than ever before, Salesforce improves productivity by giving finance teams the freedom to access the data they need at any time and from anywhere.
Speaking of the unprecedented changes to the workplace caused by COVID-19, Tim Koller, leader of McKinsey’s strategy and corporate finance practice, said that the experience of CFOs “using finance and accounting automation software and other technology tools to get work done and close the books on a virtual basis has been surprisingly good.”
This, in part, is due to the huge time saving benefits that come from swapping spreadsheets or siloed systems for a single source of truth. In short, eliminating the need for time-consuming data entry across multiple systems gives finance teams the luxury of time to accomplish more.
5. Brings finance and sales closer together
A survey of senior finance executives found that the top pain points for CFOs included renewals forecasting and management, inaccurate sales or financial forecasting, and inaccurate reporting. 67% of respondents believed that effective coordination between finance and sales could help improve forecasting and maximise revenue growth, and 80% agreed that sales and finance would benefit from improved collaboration.
Salesforce helps to unify finance and sales teams by seamlessly exchanging customer data, which empowers them to make their own decisions. In other words, it helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page with a real-time understanding of how financial decisions can impact customers and improve business results.
Salesforce can also help increase compliance. For example, IFRS15 is the revenue recognition standard affecting businesses that enter into contracts with customers to transfer goods and services. To evidence compliance, companies must produce financial reporting in accordance with the IFRS standard. Whereas 50% of spreadsheet models have material defects, Salesforce provides the right technology to deliver the right reports to the right stakeholders.
6. Salesforce is the future of expense management
And on the subject of commercial teams, those who typically account for 80% of a company’s total expenses, Salesforce unlocks the relationship between expense spend and return on investment (ROI). That’s why in an age where business expenditure is under the microscope like never before, putting expenses on Salesforce is a business priority.
Consolidating expense spend on the same system that contains your customer and revenue data, lets you directly evidence the value that expenses bring to your business. Having access to real-time analytics also empowers you to accurately budget, easily forecast outgoings, and take instant corrective action as needed.
As well as reducing the amount of time finance teams have to spend on spreadsheets and siloed systems, doing expenses on Salesforce makes it easier for CFOs to make data-driven decisions that promote business growth.
7. Better flexibility and efficiency
Embracing Salesforce for finance empowers team members to work at peak performance across multiple devices. Providing access to shared data and assets harmonises business processes by eliminating the need to duplicate data across multiple systems. Plus, as a cloud-based platform, there’s no need to install hardware and it can be used remotely. All of which saves valuable time.
The software-as-a-service platform can also easily be scaled and adapted to meet your changing needs. For example, you can create a connected experience by seamlessly adding apps such as AccountingSeed or FinancialForce to your Salesforce org. Scaling the solution with prebuilt apps from the AppExchange is a quick and easy way to optimise Salesforce for your company’s requirements.
8. Salesforce is the market leader
Bringing finance into Salesforce is a low risk investment when it comes to data.
As the No.1 cloud enterprise platform, Salesforce builds security into everything they do. The best-in-class security features, such as the option to enable multi-factor authentication and run a security health check with every release, means that your team will be able to perform their tasks safely and you can scale with confidence.
You can also tailor Salesforce to meet your departmental needs. The hugely flexible platform can be customised with the many add-on products and services in the AppExchange. Doing so will extend Salesforce’s capabilities and make it easier to manage and complete financial tasks.
Why Salesforce is the modern choice for finance and CFOs
As a modern CFO you are constantly juggling the responsibility of deciding whether to empower financial decisions or rein them in. Embracing Salesforce provides visibility of real-time data that you can analyse to gain a stronger understanding of the potential risks and opportunities behind the numbers.
Moving the finance function to the cloud on a secure and reliable platform such as Salesforce opens a wealth of opportunities for increased customer engagement and retention, and better relationships with commercial teams within your business.
Get our in-depth guide to how Salesforce can help your business understand the science behind spend, and convert expenses into business growth.