For many small businesses and startups, Gmail and Salesforce are fixtures on their Web browsers. The two applications are unquestionably among the most popular and relied-upon tools to build a customer base and generate sales. Both services represent prime examples of the cloud's ability to make technology accessible to small businesses and help them push productivity to new heights. However, only one service stands at the center of a small business professional's universe, according to Cirruspath CEO and founder, Ryan Huff.
Gmail beats Salesforce hands down, and for obvious reasons. For the most part, "sales reps aren't in Salesforce, working in Salesforce," said Huff. "They're in their inbox, on the phone, on the road," he explained. And while they're thumbing through emails on their smartphones, they're "contextually far away from their [Salesforce] information."
Merging Salesforce with Gmail
That poses a problem for small businesses. Salesforce's customer relationship management (CRM) platform packs big enterprise capabilities into an affordable, pay-as-you-go package, but startups and mom-and-pop shops weren't leveraging its potential.
"The primary problem that customers faced with Salesforce was adoption," Huff told Small Business Computing. "They spent a lot of money with Salesforce, and end of the day, it was tough to get those sales reps up and running with the system."
Cirrus Insight's Contact Sync solves this by essentially "bringing Salesforce into email," said Huff. The company's technology delivers contextual Salesforce information into the Gmail interface via a panel that resides on the right side of the screen. The panel displays Salesforce information related to a given email, including contact information, and "snapshots" of the Salesforce activity stream, opportunities and cases.
Sales reps can also interact with Salesforce information without ever leaving Gmail. They can save email and attachments to Salesforce, manage tasks, add leads and contacts, edit or create records and cases and sync calendars.
The company's approach is catching on, said Jason Hubbard, vice president of marketing for Cirruspath. "Adoption and usability have been big issues for CRM adoption, doubly so for SMBs," he said. However, his company's Gmail-Salesforce mashup has struck a chord with customers. He claims that "by bringing in basically 95 percent of what you do in Salesforce, [Gmail and Cirrus Insight] become their front-end for a lot of their reps." Huff added that his company's app became "number one in the [Salesforce] App Exchange in four months."
Developing solutions for business problems is a tried and true way to launch any tech startup. Huff admits that he launched Cirruspath "partly for selfish reasons—I wanted something that brought those two apps together," he said.
This week, the company rolled out new technology that forges stronger ties between the two platforms. Contact Sync, an added no-cost feature, integrates with Google Contacts, letting you quickly add new contacts to Salesforce. It automatically syncs and updates between Google and Salesforce, and with mobile devices.
Cirrus Insight subscriptions start at $15 per user per month for the Solo plan, which offers Gmail integration (including contact sync).
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE
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