Sales Cloud vs Service Cloud – The Difference?

In this article, Rachel Garton, Lead Consultant at Internet Creations, a Salesforce Partner, explains the differences between Salesforce’s two main clouds — Sales Cloud and Service Cloud.

You may be exploring Salesforce for your business or trying to brush up on your technical knowledge for a job interview or a certification exam. Regardless, it’s good to understand the differences between Salesforce’s two main clouds — Sales Cloud and Service Cloud.

As a consultant, I’ve had many clients ask about the differences between the clouds and which features I thought they needed for their business. I’ve also been asked to describe 3 features that were distinct for Sales Cloud and 3 that were distinct for Service Cloud as a part of a Salesforce consultant interview!

Sales Cloud and Service Cloud are both built on the core Salesforce Platform, so there are critical features they share but are also fairly unique. So what are the key differences that makes Sales Cloud for Sales and Service Cloud for Service?

Sales Cloud is focused for sales reps and sales managers, with all key functionality geared towards account acquisition, the sales funnel, and closing deals. Similar to how Sales Cloud is geared towards sales reps and sales managers, Service Cloud is geared towards service agents and service managers. Key functionality is focused on agent efficiencies, customer experience, and managing customer service issues in line with your company’s processes and SLAs.

First we’ll take a quick look at these core, shared features before looking at what makes Sales Cloud for sales teams and Service Cloud for service teams.

Shared Features

There is a certain amount of overlap between Sales Cloud and Service Cloud, which can make things a little confusing at first. Before we dive into Sales or Service Cloud specifically, let’s look at what feature they share. These are core Salesforce concepts that almost all industries need.

Accounts and Contacts

Whether you’re in sales or service, the common thread is the customer, which is why one of Salesforce’s core features is the ability to manage your accounts and key contacts within that account. We won’t get too in-the-weeds with this since it’s core Salesforce functionality, but rest assured that Accounts and Contacts are central to both Sales and Service Clouds.

Accounts and Contacts allow you to manage organizations you work with as the key people within those organizations. The Salesforce data model allows Accounts to be part of a larger hierarchy if needed, and you can associate a single Contact to multiple accounts if they are a key person across many interrelated institutions.

If you’re new to Salesforce and looking to learn more details about Account and Contact management, this module on Trailhead is always a great place to start!

Basic Case Management

A lot of people assume that Sales Cloud is all about closing deals, with no customer service features.

While Service Cloud provides many more features for a robust and personalized service experience, Salesforce recognizes that keeping existing customers happy is just as critical for sales as converting new leads. That being said, Sales Cloud also offers some very basic Case Management features so you can provide your sales team with visibility into their customers’ support issues and give people the service they need to be returning customers.

Sales Cloud

The following features are the bread and butter of what makes Sales Cloud unique from Service Cloud. Let’s explore how Sales Cloud enables sales teams.

Lead Management

The very beginning of the sales funnel is nurturing prospects to find viable deals! Prospective customers are captured as Leads in Sales Cloud and nurtured by sales reps to move them through the lead funnel.

There are several standard features for Lead management such as Lead Assignment Rules, which will automatically assign new Leads to reps or teams based on certain attributes, like geography or product of interest. Salesforce has a great guide for Lead routing with links to resources on how to do Lead Assignment in Salesforce. Sales Cloud also has Lead Auto-Response Rules for automated follow-up for eligible leads. For example, if a Lead comes in from an online information request form then Sales Cloud can automatically send them an email thanking them for their interest and letting them know a rep will be in touch soon.

Speaking of Leads coming in from online forms, Sales Cloud has a native feature called Web-to-Lead, which allows you to automatically generate a web form to capture prospects that can be added to any site, even if it isn’t a Salesforce page!

As your reps nurture your leads, you can give them Guidance for Success in a Path component. A Path is a visual representation of major steps in a process, such as the Lead nurturing process or Lead funnel. As a part of Paths, you can add customized Guidance for Success notes to give advice and coaching for moving the Lead further through the Path.

Finally, when a Lead has expressed interest in moving forward, a rep can qualify them as a strong prospect and Convert the Lead to a full Account!

Once a Lead is converted to an Account (or Person Account, depending on your model) and related records you can manage all relevant information about that company and person using the customer management features we’ve already covered! There’s also a nice Admin Guide on Lead and Contact Tips and Tricks.

Opportunity Management – Pipeline and Forecasting

We’ve moved down the pipeline a little to actual qualified potential sales. This is where reps start to really talk more to prospects and get a better sense of their potential value. These potential sales are captured as Opportunities. Just like with Leads, you can define a number of sales processes which are in-line with the sales methodology your company uses and a Salesforce Path can be added to Opportunity pages to help guide your reps through every step. To make sure you’re up to speed on all the best practices, check out this Admin Guide on Opportunity Management!

Reporting and monitoring pipeline is a huge part of any sales organization. How can you predict how much money each rep will close in a given period? And how can you track performance against quotas? Enter Forecasting! Salesforce has native forecasting tools to give sales managers and their reps visibility into projections and performance.


Many industries have a sales process which necessitates complex quote building. Sales Cloud has that functionality as well! Basic Sales Cloud Quote building allows for adding in products, their quantity, pricing, and any discounts. A single Opportunity may have multiple quotes as your Sales rep negotiates the deal, but you can always pick which quote will “sync” to pipeline reports and forecasting. You can also just add Products underneath an Opportunity if you don’t need to go the route of formal quotes.

Building quotes can be tedious, but you can make Quote Templates to help jumpstart the process. Rapid Products also gives your reps much faster quote building capabilities!

If you have highly customized product configurations and pricing models, Salesforce CPQ may be worth exploring. You can read more about it in the Admin Guide comparing CPQ and Opportunity Products.

Service Cloud

The following features are the foundation of what makes Service Cloud unique from Sales Cloud. Let’s look at how Service Cloud supports customer service teams.

Robust Case Management Tools

One of the critical features Service Cloud offers is the ability to automatically handle incoming cases to make sure nothing gets missed, just like how Sales Cloud has the Lead Auto-Response and Assignment rules. When a new customer ticket comes into the system, Salesforce can automatically provide the customer with an Auto-Response email acknowledging their issue and then run through configured Assignment Rules to route the ticket to the right agent or team.

Another nice feature in Service Cloud is called Email-to-Case which lets you route emails coming in to a specific inbox to Salesforce directly. For example, if customers frequently email in to a support email like, you can have inbound emails to that address sync automatically to a Case in Salesforce so you don’t have to worry about a person manually monitoring that inbox. Once the Case gets created, your Auto-Response and Assignment Rules will run normally! Email-to-Case is a great feature, though it does have several limitations. Thankfully, Email-to-Case Premium plugs a lot of the holes in normal Email-to-Case with enhancements to the native infrastructure.

Beyond just handling incoming Cases, Service Cloud has native ways to track what types of support your customers are entitled to and define key milestones of that process. Entitlements and Milestones help your team keep track of which cases need immediate attention by defining appropriate service levels and outlining steps within a service process. The Admin Guide to Entitlements and Milestones will give you all the details and introduce a robust alternative to tracking SLAs and prioritizing work called Case Flags!

More Customer Support Channels

Service Cloud also lets you take customer support beyond Cases. We’re in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and customers want to be able to get support on their terms, whether it’s via email, a support portal, online chat, or SMS! One of the key features Service Cloud offers is Omni-Channel. Omni-Channel connects all of your support channels, providing consistent support to your customers and giving your agents work in one consolidated place. Omni-Channel can assign incoming customer service issues based on agent capacity by checking their workload. The Omni-Channel Performance Dashboard also lets you monitor agent work performance to maximise efficiency. To explore Omni-Channel further, Trailhead has a nice introduction to it!

With Omni-Channel, you can now roll out multiple support channels for your customers! Salesforce offers native Live Chat, which can be embedded on any webpage, not just Salesforce pages. Salesforce also offers native SMS support so your customers can text from their smartphone while your agents stay in their Salesforce console. Salesforce has also rolled out Service Cloud Voice, which is their CTI tool for handling and routing incoming calls through Salesforce.

Self-Service Options

Beyond Case management, Service Cloud has several features to help deflect Cases and provide Self-Service options to you customers. First off, a Knowledge Base is a great way to provide easy answers and critical information. Lightning Knowledge makes this easy to do right within Salesforce! You can make a public knowledge base or one for registered customers only, but either way the information is sure to help deflect Cases.

In fact, there’s an amazing Case Deflection component that Salesforce provides out-of-the-box! Using type-ahead searching in the Submit a Case fields, the component will recommend knowledge articles to your customers that could help solve their issue. It’s a great way to prevent Cases and give customers a great experience!

We’ve already talked about Salesforce Chat functionality, but did you know that you can help deflect Cases and address simple questions with a Chatbot? With Einstein Bots, Salesforce lets you customize the Bot’s name and personality and the bot sits right in the normal Chat window that your agents use. Chatbots act almost like triage and can handle more rote issues such as FAQs, checking on order statuses, or asking basic company questions. If the bot can’t find the answer, it can route to an agent or create a Case for the customer, providing a seamless service experience!

Keep Learning!

Hopefully this was a nice summary of Sales Cloud vs. Service Cloud! As always, Trailhead is a great place to learn more and even get hands on! These two modules are nice intros to Sales Cloud and Service Cloud:


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