Back in December of 2004, I read an article in Fortune magazine about Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com and the democratization of CRM. It quite literally changed the course and direction of my entire life.
The idea was that previously, only the largest companies were able to afford the latest and greatest best in the world kind of tools that were being used to manage, track, support and analyze the different operations of their business.
That was because in order to get what was then a best in the world business software tool, you needed to first spend an enormous amount of money upfront to buy the software and hardware required. Then even more money was paid to consultants to set up the software and then to customize it properly and then to maintain it over time.
No small business was able to make such an investment.
When Marc Benioff created Salesforce.com, he changed the paradigm.
Now his customers would simply pay a monthly fee for each employee who needs access to the service which runs entirely over the Internet. There is no software to install and there are no servers to purchase and maintain.
Back then Salesforce.com was beginning to create an ecosystem of partner companies that were each building different solutions on the Force.com platform. The idea was that as each new application is published, the value and relevance of the entire platform increases. It was brilliant.
Together they would create thousands of pre-built solutions for many of the most common business needs available. Those applications would be available on demand on the AppExchange. Some of these applications would be simple widgets and others much more extensive solutions designed to run an entire business of one kind or another.
Software as a Service.
I was sold.
We immediately signed a multi-year contract with Salesforce.com. Back then there were no pre-built applications on Force.com specifically designed as an agency management system for the group health insurance broker. So we hired one of their best consulting partners to customize the platform for our group insurance broker business.
Immediately, the investment had a tremendous impact. I went from being one of the cogs in the wheel of client service operations to being able to say “look mom, no hands!” I could focus my efforts entirely on selling new business.
From that point on, every 6 or 9 months we would re-engage with that same consultant and continue to invest in the application by building out additional functionality. We had a feature request list. Each time someone in our office would say “wouldn’t it be great if….”, we called that a feature request and added it to our list.
Over the last 8 years as we built out our wish list of features, the application evolved into a complete group insurance broker agency management system that streamlines the process of selling and servicing group insurance from the perspective of the broker and the general agent.
Eventually, we actually spun off a separate company for the purpose of taking the application that was originally built to help us to better manage our own agency and turn it into this product that we now call BenefitsGuide.
BenefitsGuide is essentially the Force.com platform customized for the group insurance agency.
Today, as an insurance broker, you can have the very same latest and greatest best in the world kind of tools that are being used to manage, track, support and analyze the different operations of the largest and most progressive global enterprise organizations.
You don’t need to customize anything. We have already done that for you. You simply pay a monthly fee for each employee who needs access to the service.
For more information on how you can make this work for your business, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646 461 3000.