Salesforce or Microsoft: What’s the right CRM platform for your association management software?

More associations are moving to CRM platform-based AMS systems. 

Here’s why this approach is important and what you should know about choosing the right solution for your association.

In the past few years, there has been a noticeable push by associations to move to an association management software (AMS) built on an enterprise constituent relationship management (CRM) platform. It might seem daunting to choose not only the platform (such as Salesforce or Microsoft CRM), but also the AMS (there are two Salesforce-based, and five Microsoft-based, AMS systems) that’s right for your organization.  

So, let’s break down why you’d want to have a CRM-based AMS system and how to choose the right one for your organization: 

Why move toward a CRM-based AMS system

The push toward using CRM-based AMS systems is driven by multiple factors, including the need for: 

  • CRM – Modern associations understand the need for CRM, which provides a detailed view of their membership to drive two key things:
    • Data-based decision making, which requires that data be easily gathered, maintained, and reported on
    • Modern marketing, which requires easily slicing and dicing membership data so that the right message is delivered to the right person at the right time 
  • Innovation – Enterprise-level CRM vendors spend large amounts of time and dollars on innovation. For example, in 2021, Salesforce spent $3.6 billion on research and development. In contrast, non-CRM-platform-based AMS systems simply do not have the funds to keep up with future-forward technologies, including mobility, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Extensibility and training/community – With the need for multiple technologies, such as learning management, CRM, and AMS systems, today’s associations must be able to easily connect their technology, as well as have access to strong training, documentation, and user groups. Enterprise-level CRM systems can integrate easily with other systems and offer the resources associations need to understand and use the CRM platform underlying their AMS technology.
  • Performance and scalability – As associations collect more data and use more systems, performance becomes even more important. Just think: If your association is featured on a popular TV show tomorrow, would your community portal be able to handle the spike in traffic? Today’s associations require a CRM platform with thousands of computers with redundant data centers all over the world to ensure performance. 

Making the right platform and AMS choice: 3 questions to ask

With multiple CRM platform and AMS choices, how do you know which combination is right for your organization? Here are three questions to consider: 

1. Is every customer on the same version?
Do you use Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail? If so, you probably don’t know what version of the product you’re using. But you’re using the most recent version because everyone is using the same version. That is how modern software is built and delivered. It’s just automatically updated.

Your CRM and AMS systems should be no different. Here are three reasons why a single version is important:

  • Innovation requires it. To continuously deliver new capabilities, a software company must focus on innovation versus supporting multiple software versions.
  • Support is better and fixes come faster. If a software company has only one version to support, it can focus on one system and will be able to diagnose issues and deliver fixes more quickly.
  • You won’t be left behind. Most associations that are looking for a new system are doing so because their current software has fallen behind. If your association is going to be innovative, it needs to be running the latest and greatest software. 

TIP: Nimble AMS, which is built on the Salesforce platform, is the only enterprise AMS software in which every customer is on the same version. At the platform level, every Salesforce customer is on the same version, too.  

2. How innovative is the technology?
Innovation is a key factor in associations’ ability to remain relevant, and their AMS and platform are key to driving and supporting that innovation. Look for technology with a strong track record and reputation for technology innovation.  

For example, Nimble AMS has been continuously turning out innovative features to associations for more than a decade. Here are three recent innovations from Nimble AMS: 

  • Pre-built predictions powered by Salesforce Prediction Builder and Salesforce Einstein AI technology. This feature in Nimble AMS makes it easy for associations to predict and respond to what their members need, want, and expect. For example, you can use data about past behaviors to predict if a member is unlikely to renew, and then intervene before losing the membership.
  • The release of Nimble Communities, built on the Salesforce Experience Cloud platform, allows associations to easily set up and host an online member community that provides the collaboration capabilities associations need to drive member engagement, improve member loyalty, and ultimately grow revenue.
  • Extension of the Salesforce Trailhead online learning platform to Nimble AMS users through myTrailhead training modules. These trainings will help Nimble AMS users skill up and advance their Nimble AMS knowledge and maximize their AMS investment. 

 In addition to continuously turning out innovative features, every release of Nimble AMS is certified by Salesforce and posted on the Salesforce AppExchange, including the date of certification. In contrast, Microsoft does not publish in the Microsoft App Store if and when apps are certified. 

3. Is the AMS provider dedicated to associations, with strong financial backing? 
It’s important that your AMS provider understand associations and the impact they have on society. For example, Nimble AMS is a product of Community Brands, which is the leading technology provider for associations. Community Brands offers a complete, robust family of solutions to drive association growth, engagement, professional development, and revenue. 

It’s also important to know that your AMS provider is financially stable so you know that they can afford to fund innovation and continue to support the product. For example, Community Brands has the backing of a billion-dollar investment firm.  

A few other things to note about Salesforce

In 2021, Gartner named Salesforce a leader in the CRM Customer Engagement Center (CEC) Magic Quadrant for the 13th consecutive year. Salesforce ranked higher than the nearest competitors, including Microsoft.  

The Salesforce ecosystem, including partners and customers, is creating millions of Salesforce jobs around the world. According to the research firm IDC, the Salesforce ecosystem is expected to create 4.2 million jobs worldwide through 2024. Using an AMS built on Salesforce not only gives you a highly desirable skill set, but also helps you retain and recruit staff who are looking to expand their skills. 

At the same time, association professionals work every day to make this world a better place, and Salesforce aligns with that mindset. Mark Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, put forth the 1-1-1 program, whereby Salesforce donates 1 percent of its time, 1 percent of its product, and 1 percent of its money to support nonprofits. Salesforce has given more than $240 million in grants and 3.5 million hours of community service, and has provided product donations for more than 39,000 nonprofits and education institutions. 

Learn more
Ready to learn more about the benefits of a powerful CRM platform for your AMS system? We’d love to chat. Contact us today.

Find out more: Explore Nimble AMS. 

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