Getting a suitable CRM system is tough. While vendors boast of the clear value of CRM, their prices can be anything but clear.
Many customers discover, too late, that in addition to the “sticker price”, they’re forced to pay more to fully realize the value of their CRM.
Indeed, buried within the elaborate pricing tables and maze-like twists & turns of your vendor’s FAQ is the true total cost of your solution.
We investigated the hidden costs of Salesforce — the biggest branded CRM on the market — and identified four critical danger areas worth your close attention when comparing alternatives.
1. Data and file storage limits
Your vendor will provide you a basic storage allotment. Salesforce limits your storage as follows:
- 1GB of “data storage” per organization — including the record types you need for everyday use.
- 10GB of “file storage” per organization for your stored documents and attachments.
- An additional 20MB data storage per user on Professional and Enterprise editions, and 120MB per user on Unlimited edition.
- An additional 612MB file storage per user on Professional edition, and 2GB on Enterprise and Unlimited editions.
As CRM systems age, they accumulate valuable customer information, and you may hit your vendor’s storage cap. At which point, you face a few choices:
- You can start purging information annually, which may be impractical, especially if you plan to leverage that information for use with business analytics or AI — requiring vast quantities of data.
- You can archive your information in an external storage system by using one of several tools.
- You can buy extra storage. Using Salesforce, expect to pay as follows:
- Data storage in blocks of 50 or 500MB, at $125USD/month for 500MB.
- File storage at $5USD/month for each extra gigabyte.
Taking into account that these are not a one-time payment, your data storage may actually cost more than your annual license!
2. Service & support
According to Gartner, 40% of business initiatives, including CRM, fail to achieve their targeted benefits. Key causes? In the case of CRM, it’s often improper configuration, poor user training and poor user adoption.
To surmount these challenges, you will likely need help setting up your CRM, help configuring it to work like you do, help cleansing and migrating data from your legacy systems, along with help training up your staff.
Naturally, this entails varying costs — by one authoritative estimate, between $5,000 to $80,000 per Salesforce implementation.
And you’ll need ongoing IT support and consultation across your solution’s lifetime to ensure continued peak performance and enthusiastic adoption by your team.
Salesforce provides support as part of your subscription: its base-line Standard Success package includes access to online case submission, 12/5 support via phone and two business-day response times.
For those needing more, you can upgrade your level of service to Salesforce’s Premier or Premier+ Success plans. These offer 24/7 assistance, 1-hour responses and 1-on-1 coaching — but they start at 15% of your CRM’s total listed license cost. This works out to roughly $11.25USD per user/per month on a Professional edition license. With an Enterprise or Unlimited edition solution, the total cost is markedly higher.
Your CRM’s mobile app will ideally, be streamlined to match each business role in your organization. This ensures your team can work quickly with the critical information and features they need — at their fingertips anytime, anywhere.
To get the very latest in mobile CRM, including the ability to tailor your Salesforce mobile experience for high performance, you can pursue one of the following strategies:
- Learn to code – You can try using Salesforce’s Developer Toolkit (SDK) to build a DIY mobile solution.
- Hire a consultant – Creating a professional B2B-grade business app from scratch requires specialized knowledge and skills, on top of rigorous testing. You can expect development costs to run between $50,000 to $250,000 per app, by one estimate.
- Acquire the drag-and-drop Lightning app builder by…
- Upgrading your account to Salesforce Enterprise or Unlimited edition, starting at $150USD per user/per month and $300USD per user/per month respectively.
- Acquiring Salesforce Lightning Starter — sold separately at an additional 25$USD per user/per month.
The app builder, Salesforce App Cloud, empowers you to build your own bespoke business apps — with minimal coding. Nevertheless, according to PCmag, Salesforce App Cloud still isn’t exactly user friendly. It features a cluttered interface, inconsistent training resources, and a learning curve that can only be described as a bit of a hike.
4. API call limits
API call limits are normally considered very technical. But its implications for your CRM strategy could be profound if you’ve got a big integration or data project planned.
Put simply, your API call limit caps the number of inquiries your CRM system fields from external information sources. Acting like your solution’s gasoline — your API call limit determines how far you can go.
Every time a user requests another page of CRM data — and every time one of your integrations sends or requests information — you consume a call. In this way, your API call limit rations access to your vendor’s infrastructure.
On Salesforce, your limit (15,000+ per organization per day) seems very generous. But keep in mind, powerful integrations with marketing solutions like Hubspot and Eloqua can burn through your calls very quickly. Plus, that 15,000 reflects merely the total number of calls across all your Salesforce applications.
Your actual call limits vary with your edition and each individual Salesforce application you use. (Salesforce’s uber-complicated rules on the matter can be found here.)
Salesforce expects you to exercise “due diligence” with respect to your API call use — and there are strategies you can deploy to improve your efficiency. However, you may still hit your daily limit. At which point, you have to wait until the next day — or pay more to top up your tank — just like when you exceed your cell phone carrier’s mobile data plan.
Salesforce gives you three ways to expand your daily call limit:
- You can buy additional user licenses.
- You can upgrade to a more expensive edition.
- You can contact your Account Representative for more options.
The Bottom Line:
CRM vendors advertise the ability to build a powerful single view of your customer based on sophisticated use of their solution. But their pricing can be anything but clear and entail hidden fees that rack up over time.
Thankfully, the CRM market is also fiercely competitive and getting more so by the day! Plenty of mid-tier and smaller CRM solutions compete for airspace, while announcing clearer pricing and generous offers. Examine the hidden costs of CRM when comparing these alternatives, and you too can leverage every benefit CRM has to offer — at a reasonable price.
Data2CRM is an automated migration service that helps customers quickly and safely move their business-critical data across a wide array of solutions.