The introduction to Salesforce Communities: licenses, benefits, and more

Manage customer, partner, and employee communities with Salesforce Community Cloud

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The first challenge for today’s organization is to find a way to provide the highest levels of service both to customers and partners and integrate these methods into their everyday business processes.

In this regard, companies of all sizes create their online communities concentrated on engaging and supporting their customers and partners. Such communities help generate new ways to connect with potential customers and buyers, provide effective customer service and complete access to information may be required to successfully use a company’s products or services. That, as a result, positively influences shopping behavior and builds trust in the brand.

We bet you’ve already heard about Salesforce communities that allow organizations to get their customers, partners, and employees connected with each other and the records and data they need to do their job.
In this article, we will find out:

  • What Salesforce communities are, what benefits they provide, and what types there are.
  • What the community license means and what types of licenses exist.
  • How you can make the best use of Communities to achieve your business goals.

1. What is the Salesforce community?

Salesforce Communities are brand spaces designed specifically for Salesforce customers to connect with the community outside their org (i.e., employees, partners, and customers) and collaborate with them using relevant data and content. Users can visit the community to find answers to questions or ask for help from another community member.

Salesforce Community Cloud is an online social platform from Salesforce that enables companies to connect customers, partners, and employees with each other and the data and records they need to collaborate.

There are dozens of great Salesforce Communities examples. Famous brands like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Walmart, Dell, Nokia, Lowe’s, TEDx are using communities for various purposes, starting from connecting customers from around the globe and ending at reducing the caseload for contact centers and support agents.

1.1. Salesforce community types

Let’s take a look at three key types of communities that are tailored to the various groups of community members:

  • A Customer community is a kind of self-service portal that provides support and feedback (FAQs, articles, documentation, and discussions with other customers — for instance, using a Salesforce Success Community). Salesforce customer communities help organizations share relevant information, create a better customer experience, and increase engagement.
  • Partner community is a specific information hub for B2B orgs that allows sales teams and resellers to easily access needed data and collaborate in real-time to close more deals. It’s a space where partners can manage their business, learn best practices, get the support they need, and connect with Salesforce employees in an absolutely secure environment.
  • Internal employee community is a portal for HR and IT information, that allows employees to connect with each other and provides them with a single space for shared files, searchable knowledge databases and training materials, schedules, project management, and organizational documentation or announcements.

1.2. Benefits of using Communities

At first, the idea of creating an online community may sound like an expensive venture and a rather complicated task; but after you consider the advantages it provides and how easy it can be with Salesforce, you will change your mind.

As a Salesforce product, Community Cloud provides its customers with seamless integration with CRM data like opportunities, leads, activities, etc.

Communities offer numerous benefits (such as customizability, mobile-friendliness and on-brand features, a scalable library of templates with no coding necessary, and rich personalization options to meet your business’s specific needs) that help companies to:

  • Build better customer relationships.
  • Solve complex organizational problems.
  • Benefit multiple departments.
  • Save time.
  • Cut support costs and increase customer satisfaction.
  • Drive product innovation.
  • Grow customer retention.
  • Improve the digital customer experience.
  • Boost new customer acquisition
  • Strengthen sales (increase upsell, cross-sell, and add-on revenue).

Thus, Salesforce provides companies with an exceptional framework for extending the organization to outer communities through Community Cloud using the Community Licensing model. Let’s see what it is and what types of licenses there are.

2. What is a Salesforce community license?

Salesforce communities licenses are a contractual agreement between Salesforce and its customer, that includes a metadata description of the associated Salesforce product’s functionality that is available to this organization. The license can include various information specific to the company, for example: start and end dates, the number of users who have access to Salesforce or custom objects that org can create, etc.

It’s worth mentioning that members still have some level of access even without acquiring a Community license. For instance, guest users have access to community pages that are publicly available (like a public knowledge base) to find and read content, review knowledge articles, and perform tasks that don’t require them to log in. But acquiring a community license also allows you to create external profiles (beyond the guest user profile) to access Communities.

Typically, an organization has multiple Salesforce licenses that include all available features and services. Let’s take a look at the main types of Community licenses.

2.1. Salesforce community license types

  • Customer Community licenses are used for B2C interactions with a huge number of customers that need access to Cases and a knowledge base.
  • Customer Community Plus licenses are a perfect choice for more robust customer collaboration and are best suited for B2C communities focused on customer support without being involved in sales scenarios. Some of the benefits of this option include delegated user administration, reports and dashboards, content libraries, and advanced (apex, role-based) record sharing.
  • Partner community licenses are an excellent (you could even say “Premium”) choice for B2B companies that sell through distribution channels. The license grants access (reading, creating, and editing) to sales data and Salesforce objects like leads, opportunities, campaigns, and more, that these communities need.
  • Lightning External Apps Starter licenses offer custom digital experiences for external stakeholder engagement (including Customer Loyalty and Brand Engagement), with limited access to CRM objects. The important advantage of this type of license is that it provides additional platform capacities like API calls, data, and file storage.
  • Lightning External Apps Plus licenses provide highly customized experiences including CRM and custom objects, external data, and additional API calls, data, and file storage. It’s a good choice for dealers, vendors, supplier portals, franchise management, marketplaces, and multi-level marketing.

2.2. Salesforce Communities pricing:

  • Customer Community: $2 per login or $5 per member/month.
  • Customer Community Plus: $6 per login or $15 per member/month.
  • Partner Relationship Management: $10 per login or $25 per member/month.
  • External Apps: $15 per login or $35 per member/month.

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Revenue Grid helps to automatically capture, categorize, and sync sales data across all connected sources. That way, your org is always up to date with the latest, most accurate information from your sales team and partners alike.

Revenue Grid works equally well with Salesforce user licenses and Partner Community licenses. That means you can make sure that all activities and data are permanently synced to Salesforce from all business units and distributors, regardless of which license they have.

Unlike Salesforce Inbox, which does not include advanced functionality like automatic data capture on distributor accounts, Revenue Grid’s plugin for Outlook and Gmail provides full product functionality on both primary accounts and subaccounts of all distributors and works best with Partner Community license.

Read also: 

Sandbagging: Is it a good idea for salespeople?

What Is B2B Sales?

What is sales forecasting and how do you forecast sales?

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