Salesforce license types and characteristics

This is the second article in the Salesforce License Optimization series published by Cymetrix team. The first article highlighted operational Salesforce license optimization best practices post-purchase. In this post, we aim to highlight the main characteristics of licensing and agreement and present a short guide of various license types.

Cymetrix is a Salesforce Partner and offers Salesforce consulting services, including license consultancy. Our consultants maps business requirements to Salesforce functionality to recommend the best possible license package. We believe that knowledge about Salesforce license types can be used to identify opportunities at the time of purchase decision for Salesforce license optimization and cost savings.

What Salesforce license type should I buy?

There are multiple occasions when you or your Salesforce admin will evaluate the type of Salesforce license to invest in. It could be for a new Salesforce CRM implementation from the scratch, or addition of new team members who will be using Salesforce in your organization. Licenses and Salesforce editions also come into play when making custom or appExchange apps available to your Salesforce users.

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Every Salesforce user must have exactly one user license. The type of license determines the baseline of features that the user can access. Not all users in the organization require access to full-blown CRM functionality. There might be users who have nothing to lose by accessing accounts and contacts in read-only mode, or those who might never require leads or opportunities, or maybe a custom app.

Choosing the right Salesforce license type starts with:

  • Spending time analyzing your users, and what they (will) use Salesforce for most often: What type of objects do they need to use and how much of it- standard or custom objects? In some instances, users may be using a CRM object but they are making light use of the object. Evaluate the dependency on standard CRM functionality and the custom apps or AppExchange apps. Do you have some users who can function just fine with read-only access to core platform functionality like accounts and contact?  Analyzing each of these aspects presents an opportunity to optimize Salesforce license cost. In fact, a thorough analysis or user roles and responsibilities by creating an organizational chart will be helpful.
  • Understanding the different types of Salesforce licenses: In the remaining part of the article, we will cover types and characteristics of Salesforce licenses.

Salesforce License Characteristics


Salesforce User License Types

Services are purchased from as user subscriptions. Organization can select different types of users on different licenses/user types. Many Salesforce implementations fail on account of ROI as they fail to understand how to effectively use different types of licenses.

Following are various Salesforce licensing types and options:

1. Enterprise Edition user license

The Enterprise Edition grants full access to standard CRM and AppExchange apps. Such license holders can access any standard or custom app as required without any restrictions. Think of it as an unlimited plan in terms of access to functionality. On the hindsight, users may actually never use all the functionality available and end up paying for it.

2. Salesforce Platform License

Users with Salesforce Platform License type can access custom apps developed by themselves or uploaded into the AppExchange. Such users cannot access standard CRM functionality. This Salesforce license type allows access to core platform functionality such as accounts, contacts, reports, dashboards, documents, and custom tabs, but with restrictions on user permissions and a few other restrictions. For instance, they cannot create or edit dashboards.
The cost to develop similar objects in and use these Platform licenses is in most cases substantially lesser than availing the Salesforce Enterprise Edition license for all users. These licenses work perfectly well for most organizations with a strong in-house development team or that have created custom objects to handle new data sets and do not need the readymade CRM objects, such as “Cases,” “Leads,” “Solutions,” “Campaigns” and others available in Salesforce Enterprise Edition.

3. Salesforce Platform Light

Salesforce Platform Light is the same as the Salesforce Platform license, but with limits on the number of times the user can log in on a monthly basis.
The Salesforce Platform Light license is even better for small and medium businesses.

4. Social Enterprise License Agreements (SELA)

SELA includes social tools such as Heroku and Radian6 and provides fixed-fee access to a wide range of the company’s products, from CRM to application development tools.
Organizations which are in the growth phase and expect to scale up in the expected timeframe may include Salesforce with this type of license as a strategic element of their IT strategies. Such organizations expect increase in Salesforce software portfolio on a rapid basis, which is directly linked to the growth plans of the company.

5. License

The user can access same functionality as available in Salesforce Enterprise Edition, including full access to accounts and contacts. Both and Salesforce Enterprise Edition even access the same database, but users can access only up to 10 custom objects.
Businesses which can manage with the above mentioned restrictions with license can save substantially over Salesforce Enterprise Edition license. Upgrading to App Bundle Edition gives users access to 200 custom objects and the organization can still save over Enterprise Edition license.

6. – One App License – One App license gives users access to just one custom app with read-only access to Accounts and Contacts objects. Such license users have access to an unlimited number of custom tabs.

7. – Free license

This license is the same as the – one app license as it allows users to run just one custom app. But it does not give any access to accounts and contacts objects or to standard CRM functionality.

8. Feature licenses

To enable additional functionality for a user other than what’s included in the license, feature license can be used. Users can be assigned any number of feature licenses.
You can select users who really require such features rather than subscribing it for all users.

9. Top ups

Features like mobile functionality, knowledge base module, offline access, visual workflow, partner and community portals and more, each costs extra as top-up to the basic license fee.

Does your organization have more complicated Salesforce Licensing needs than outlined here? At Cymetrix, we will be able to provide you with additional guidance.

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