Association management systems (AMS) are designed to help membership-based organizations better handle some of their key operational tasks: Storing contact information, creating and editing membership information, communicating with members. If these core features make an AMS sound a lot like a CRM to you, well, it makes sense.
In fact, a lack of understanding about the differences between traditional AMS platforms and Salesforce has led to a misconception that associations must choose one or the other. In reality, Salesforce offers much broader functionality — it’s capable of handling everything you’d expect from an AMS, plus a whole lot more. It can also be used in tandem with an AMS, functioning more like a true CRM while leaving things like membership renewals and fee collection to its sibling platform.
The question, then, isn’t which one you should choose. It’s this: Should you replace your AMS with Salesforce, or integrate them? In this post, we’ll highlight the pros and cons of both choices.
Option #1: Replacing your AMS with Salesforce.
Pros: To put it simply, running an association with only an AMS limits your ability to engage with your members. By choosing a platform like Salesforce, you can easily run large-scale marketing campaigns, personalize interactions across channels and immediately escalate questions and concerns to the appropriate contact.
Beyond engagement, Salesforce gives you easy-to-use tools like reports and dashboards to make informed, strategic decisions. When your association’s most important data is easily accessible and sortable, you’ll be much more likely to use it in a way that drives impact.
Cons: For Salesforce to effectively handle many aspects of membership management, you’ll need a custom implementation — the cost of which could prove prohibitive for some associations.
Option #2: Integrating your AMS with Salesforce.
Pros: For those associations that decide they’re happy with their current AMS and don’t want to replace it outright, a Salesforce integration could be a great move. With the proper setup, you’ll still be able to use the platform for engagement in many of the same ways listed above.
What’s more, you’ll likely be able to make it happen for less than the cost of a fully custom Salesforce platform that includes a member portal.
Cons: The downside of integrating your AMS with Salesforce is the same downside facing many integrations: Maintenance. As you make changes to either of your platforms (your AMS or Salesforce) over time, you'll likely need to adjust your integration to keep it compatible with the latest version of each system. Over time, the cost of this maintenance could really add up.
Whichever option you choose, one of the largest advantages of using Salesforce in your association is its ability to scale. As a platform, it’s easy to configure, so as your audience grows and changes, you can add features and functionalities to address new needs. This will allow your organization to grow as a whole.
Have some questions about implementations and integrations? Let us know. We’d love to chat more about the needs of your association.