Salesforce was born from innovators in the enterprise software space – most notably from Oracle. The salesforce.com application was heavily geared to helping business-to-business organizations, particularly very large multinational corporations, succeed. While the high end b-to-b market is huge, there are several trends that have blurred the lines between b-to-b and b-to-c to create more market opportunities for CRM vendors:
- The Internet has helped accelerate the disintermediation between providers and purchasers
- A relentless focus on customer relationships and service has become the standard way to do business
In particular with Salesforce, a cloud solution became a very convenient way for smaller organizations of all types to get even the most sophisticated software for a small monthly fee. Included in this very vibrant industry are many b-to-c companies, the so-called ‘mom and pop’ stores. They too have a sales process and customer management process (albeit with consumers) and as well deal with partners that provide supplies and provide channels for distribution and scale.
Person accounts are a great way to help organizations better support managing consumer relationships. Whether you are an Internet b-to-c or a local store selling to consumers or a broker working with high net worth individuals, person accounts help you manage relationships with individuals who may not be a part of an organization (or account).
Combined with Salesforce.com’s API for integration, Salesforce.com can serve as a valuable platform to support B-to-C internet based businesses. Start ups in particular can leverage much of the Salesforce.com platform to handle incoming registrations, manage people, handle workflow rules (including email alerts), handle support cases and more. These features can save valuable development time in markets where time to market is key.
Person accounts do have some limitations. First of all, person accounts are not available in all editions. As of this writing, person accounts are available in Enterprise, Unlimited and Developer editions. Other differences include: person accounts can only be merged with other person accounts and person accounts have a different layout than Accounts/Contacts because of the different data that it tracks. Once person accounts is turned on, you cannot turn it off. There are a number of other minor differences that you can find out more by looking at the Salesforce.com help or by looking at their published Person Account Cheatsheet.