Salesforce claims to be the world’s favorite CRM–and for good reason. It’s estimated that over 150,000 businesses use Salesforce.com for their CRM needs.
However, as for any software used in the business setting, there has to be solid plans and processes in place to ensure that the company will get the expected benefits out of salesforce. And truth be told, it’s tough to make institutional changes after the massive initial roll-out.
The key is to get it right in the beginning.
That said, here are ten tips for easier and more efficient Salesforce implementation.
Plan, plan, plan
When implementing a new software solution, it’s imperative to plan earlier. Not only will it save your resources, it will also ensure that time is well spent with the implementation going the way the company envisioned in line with the company’s overall strategy and goals.
Here are some important steps you can’t skip when planning for Salesforce implementation:
Put a defined org structure in place for your implementation team. Ensure that there are junior and senior executives, a team leader, a project manager, and a trainer for the implementation. Survey your workforce for the best people for the job based on both skills and availability. Trainers are especially crucial as they facilitate putting together relevant materials for the implementation. If there are no existing documents, this person should be in charge of developing or sourcing training materials.
Set realistic goals. It starts with defining the ideal role of the Salesforce CRM in your overall company strategy. Are using it to streamline growth? Is it primarily a solution to data disorganization? Based on the major and minor goals you set, map out a timeline and build a detailed prioritization list.
Define your Salesforce process. Salesforce is as much of a platform as it is a plug-and-play CRM. It’s imperative to define each CRM process clearly before pushing on with development. Use process-centered tools that can help you visualize the processes. Flowchart software like Gliffy will be of immense help. Don’t scrimp on the details. Be thorough for each step, be it customer acquisition planning or setting up campaigns. Clearly defining each step will help the dev team develop a solution that works.
It’s also wise to take a look at the Salesforce AppExchange to see if there are integrations and solutions that can further improve your current processes. But don’t go crazy! You still want Salesforce to work smoothly and quickly. Your team and software solution can be bogged down with too much customization.
Prep your data
As with any software solution, it’s still garbage in, garbage out for Salesforce.
Before you start using the data you collected, ensure that you do an inventory and a thorough cleanup. Messy data will mess up your implementation.
- Some things to watch out for:
Data entry mistakes
- Old info
- Unencoded contacts
- Duplicate accounts
Don’t rush sorting through your existing data. Take the time to thoroughly review and spot any inconsistencies and mistakes. Also, make sure to identify which data needs to be transferred to Salesforce and what is superfluous.
The CRM processes you identified will help you out with this step. Since you have configured Salesforce according to your business needs, it’s important to have the data the platform needs to produce results.
Carefully transfer data from your existing platform
After you’ve prepped your data, it’s time to make the major move that marks your switch: transferring the essential data you’ve identified your new Salesforce solution needs.
Here are some tips:
Start small. Don’t go crazy by attempting to transfer contacts all at once. Take a small batch and test the import. Check if the details are going to the right fields. Check if all the information for each entry has been retained. By doing a small test transfer, you would save a ton of time for troubleshooting if there are errors. Fixing them would be easier too since you’re not dealing with a boatload of data.
Check your customization. Apart from checking if the data has transferred correctly, the first test transfer is the best time to evaluate the configurations and settings on your new Salesforce CRM. Get the team together and evaluate the CRM against the processes you’ve established.
Import all data only after initial troubleshooting and evaluation. You should’ve discussed and carried out necessary changes to the platform before doing the major data migration into Salesforce. Make this a big event in that all stakeholders should know that it’s taking place. Why? First off, you don’t want to disrupt the sales floor by making software changes while operations are running. If you do, you’re risking data error that can cost you a lot in terms of erroneous decisions because of inconsistent data and processes.
Create reports early on
It’s important to put together reports that will help you gauge the real progress of your implementation and Salesforce itself. To do this, create reports that are based on the objectives and goals you’ve set prior to migration.
The goals should answer these questions:
- Why are you making the switch to Salesforce?
What are the metrics you want to improve?
- What are the processes you want to improve?
- What are the numbers that would tell you the implementation is a success?
Have reports that would operationalize the areas these problems are covering. Set definite KPIs and define the thoroughly. As for gathering data for analysis, Salesforce has a built-in report creator that will help you do this seamlessly.
One part of monitoring success is the numbers. The other one is the actual state of adoption on the floor.
- How is the familiarity level among the workforce?
- Are they using Salesforce?
- Are they using it right?
- Did their performance improve?
These are questions you want answered in your reports to get a defined picture of adoption.
Recognize that Salesforce isn’t static
Salesforce is a huge company that supports millions of employees worldwide. As such, they are committed to providing ample functionality for a very wide range of business problems.
Salesforce updates periodically–you need to be on top of their updates so you can identify if the new functionalities can contribute to further improving teams’ processes.
Make sure that your teams know that this is a possibility! Have them know that Salesforce updates could come in and be applicable to your situation, and you will adopt if there’s functionality that could help.
Make sure they are equipped to adapt to new functionalities. Some updates that you choose to adopt might need a smaller implementation program for better adoption, especially if you’re in enterprise sales.
Of course, as with any changes on the sales floor, communication is key. Don’t assume that they would feel it out or would know if some processes have changed.
Stellar sales teams have training sessions in place and that’s the best opportunity to intro and brief sales teams on updates if any. Best practice would be to have a portion of your coaching and training meetings dedicated to Salesforce updates. It could be unnecessary for most meetings, but having that marker will ensure you don’t miss discussing updates if and when they come in.
Bonus tip: Take full advantage of Salesforce guides
Salesforce is serious in its goal to help businesses reach goals. That sincerity translates to the wealth of guides and other helpful content they put out. As such, you need to be as equally serious in making the most out of the platform they provide.
Here are eight guides you need to get your hands on. Read, study, and share them with your teams.
Proper training is one of the core components of adoption. It lays down the foundation upon which teams build their own understanding and techniques in making the most out of Salesforce.
A nice shiny piece of software is useless (literally!) if the adoption is low. Here’s a guide to drive adoption rates so you’d have meaningful data to push progress.
Feeling lost? Don’t know where to start? Since Salesforce has supported literally thousands of implementations, they’re in the best position to put together this guide to creating the most efficient implementation process aligned with your business goals.
As we’ve mentioned above, it’s important to establish benchmarks where you’ll pit your performance against. Here’s a thorough discussion of the metrics that you should use to improve adoption.
Here’s a simple, straightforward guide to Salesforce implementation. It covers basic areas that ensure the proper and thorough preparation of your company’s migration to the sales cloud.
Training is essential and having a solid method to it is key. If you’re struggling to find where to begin, or trying to find areas to polish in your existing training program, this checklist is for you.
Get yourself and your teams acquainted with Salesforce with this monster guide. It’s a couple thousands of pages on anything and everything Salesforce. It maybe unwise to go over the whole thing as a group. Make this your Salesforce bible but break down the modules into particulars so they’re easier to digest. This one’s not a quick read but could come in handy in the most opportune times.
The Ultimate User Guide has 3818 pages, and it’s probable that not all users learn the best way through reading that huge chunk of helpful information. Salesforce knows this–so they put together a treasure trove of visual guides that’s on their online training resource portal. This could help you and your team learn and periodically brush up on the basics.
Salesforce is a very effective and powerful tool. When used right and to its potential, it can take your business to new heights. But to make the transition successful, you need to put in the effort and get the whole organization to buy-in. Invest time and resources. Take the implementation seriously. Then, you will reap the rewards no doubt.
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