San Francisco-based has always understood the plight of small businesses. 

It got its start, after all, wooing small companies that wanted to compete on a larger playing field but couldn’t afford the necessary software — the Siebels, the PeopleSofts, the JD Edwards of the world back then.

That didn't concern Salesforce — it thought the Siebels et al needed to be put out to pasture anyway. 

And it had something better that would position these small companies to compete with companies twice or three times their size. A (then) novel Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering at affordable monthly pricing. The small businesses bit and bit hard. The rest is history.

Fast forward to today: still has a soft spot for the small business despite its solid presence in the enterprise market. And it still remembers their drive to compete -- and their limited resources that can make it hard to do so.

Salesforce's Newest Baby

So it continues to release new products aimed at this space. Its latest? An integration between and SalesforceIQ.

SalesforceIQ is the rebranded and enhanced iteration of RelateIQ, the relationship intelligence startup that Salesforce acquired in July 2014. It stayed in quiet mode up until this year's Dreamforce in September when Salesforce unveiled its latest baby — an intelligence tool that surfaced insights, not raw data, for sales people to use as they go about closing a deal. SalesforceIQ gathers its intel by reading internal content such as emails and calendars and then sniffing out patterns to predict outcomes and  make proactive recommendations. Early adopters of the product included ClassPass and News Corp.

Also debuting in the spotlight at Dreamforce was SalesforceIQ for Small Business. Focused on sales, it is a streamlined version of SalesforceIQ that guides small business users through deals and accelerates  the pipeline with its insights and suggested actions.

Bringing Service into the Loop

Now Salesforce is adding SalesforceIQ for Small Business to bringing service into the loop and giving sales reps the information necessary about their customers' accounts to build deeper relationships.

The service piece is a crucial part of the sales process and often it is siloed away from sales, Elise Bergeron, VP of Marketing at SalesforceIQ, told CMSWire. 

As for relationship insights think about it: customer service is rife with raw data not only about that customer but also its users and partners and its own customers. It is a gold mine for an application like SalesforceIQ. Agents, for their part, have a better grasp of the customer's relationship and value to the company as they get a view into the related sales pipeline. "SalesforceIQ needs all of that information — sales and service — to draw the best insights, Bergeron said.

Learning Opportunities

The use cases almost write themselves. 

An agent fielding and inquiry can see if the caller is in the process of purchasing more from the company. He can flag any issues the customer is having with the existing product for the sales rep.

Or a sales rep can use the system to check back in on a customer who made a big picture, just to stay in touch. The rep can see what the customers’ ongoing issues might be and offer suggestions on how to improve productivity or performance with the product, just to maintain a good relationship.

This data can be particularly useful for reps whose customers are overseas or across the country — not, in other words, located close enough for an impromptu stop to say hello.

If this sound like an elaborate scenario for a small business, rethink your concept of small business.

Today's environment is far different for small businesses than the halcyon days of the early oughts when that first vanguard of small-sized companies were trying out Then, the advanced functionality was nice. Today it is a necessity.

"Small companies need to be able to compete on a global arena," Bergeron said. "No one cares or gives them a pass because of their size."

Title image by Krzysztof Puszczynski