Why Does Everyone Struggle With Salesforce?

If you’re a sales manager and you’ve tried to implement Salesforce with your team, you’ll likely recognize these challenges.  Any initial enthusiasm your team had about the prospect of installing the world’s top rated cloud based CRM has waned.  Sales people have become frustrated, don’t, or won’t update Opportunities and Account records, and rarely log in. The licences, not inexpensive, have become somewhat obsolete, and you continue to use Excel to build any sort of forecasting. Hardly the picture you’d envisioned when you decided to implement SalesForce automation.

Well, you’re not alone. Many companies face the same struggles. You can have the best Salesforce CRM system in the world, but if the sales team won’t use it, or won’t use it properly, then you’ll never achieve the goal of predictable revenue.

So why does it happen in the first place?

Here are three primary, and very common syndromes for Salesforce failure within any organization, and often we see all three at play at once.

Do As I Say, and Not As I Do Syndrome

Management desperately wants the sales team to embrace Salesforce and update all of their activities daily.  But when it comes to using Salesforce, it’s strictly seen as a mandatory tool for sales people, and optional for higher levels of management.

The Fix: Management needs to embrace Salesforce as part of their everyday routine, before they can expect sales people to do the same. Understand what it is that you want to system to do for your organization (hint: think big – it really is capable of a lot), and then drill down to the three or four most relevant areas for the next quarter and focus solely on those.  Managers must log in everyday, and start to look into account and opportunity details, and then ask questions. Sales people will start to realize that Salesforce is here to stay, and the more they interact with it and update their records, the less that management will need to call and ask what’s going on.

The Non-Customized Salesforce System Syndrome

Ask any sales person what their company does, and inevitably they’ll tell you that their process is unique.  (That’s partly true, and yet most sales processes are remarkably similar.)  So if that’s the case , then shouldn’t Salesforce also look unique. If your Salesforce system is still the same as the day you got your licences, then you’re missing the point. The beauty of Saleforce is in its customizability. Someone with even a small amount of Salesforce Admin knowledge should be able to get some of the fields, labels and page layouts set up so that it reflects your team’s sales processes.

The Fix: One of the great features of Salesforce is its ability to adapt to any sales environment. The Salesforce that comes “out of the box” as it were when you first acquire the licenses, is really the template for a highly customized CRM system for your very own organization. Almost everything in Salesforce can be re-configured. Tabs, fields, page layouts, you name it. But it takes a fair amount of planning and someone (usually a third party consultant) to determine exactly what your version of Salesforce should look like and what it should be able to do.

Lack of  Salesforce Training Syndrome

Make no mistake – Salesforce is complex, it is hard, and it is not intuitive. Unleash Salesforce.com on a group of sales people with little to no exposure to it, and no training, and you will ensure massive issues in very short order. Most sales people (even good ones, or should we say, especially good ones) tend to have a short attention span when it comes to process and administration. And yet, that’s precisely what Salesforce id designed to do. It’s meant to automate process, and in order for that to work, you need input from the sales team, largely in the form of an administrative effort.

The Fix: Logging calls, updating account records, tracking opportunities, are not things that many sales people love to do, and for those that do, the good old reliable note pad, or perhaps Excel, are whey they live. But they can learn to adapt those technique to Salesforce, but only when they have some broad exposure to it in the form of organized and structured training sessions – and only on their newly customized system, not on the generic version that came with the licenses. Speak to your Salesforce implementation consultant. Either they also provide training, or they can recommend someone. If they say that they can handle training, then make sure they give examples of what their classes and resource material look like. Just because someone is very strong at system configuration, doesn’t mean that they will be very good in front of classroom full of sales people.

The Perfectionism Syndrome

You want Salesforce to be perfect, right out of the gate. Akin to ‘boiling the ocean’, you want Salesforce do everything and track everything right from the start. This is foolhardy. You end up creating so many fields and customized screens, that no one can remember what all of them are for. The system becomes “junky” from mis-, or incorrect usage.

The Fix: Understand that Salesforce will be tailored in stages. Begin with very modest goals for your Phase I roll-out, knowing that other iterations of Salesforce will most certainly follow. Keep things simple so that the sales team gains a comfort level in updating Accounts and Opportunities on a very basic level. Once the team start to use, and embrace, Salesforce, then you can focus on the changes that you want to make in the next implementation.

Salesforce can become an integral component of your organization’s processes. But you need to be wary of the pitfalls associated with any and all of the above mistakes.