Is Salesforce.com a Little More Complex Than You Expected?

Does the thought of your Salesforce.com make you sigh? Or maybe something a little more profane? Many of our clients report that it feels like it just does too much, and that not all the features will ever be mastered. No one knows how everything is supposed to work together. There’s frustration all around, by all departments and all users. Maybe you bit off more than you can chew.

Salesforce.com does a lot for many different departments in your organization. It streamlines the sales process, imports prospect data, simplifies customer contact, improves internal communication, facilitates work groups, warehouses inventory, generates contracts, and more through all those cool integrated apps. All of this functionality is great given you implement these five measures to help keep it all under control.

 

1. Tie Sales process to Salesforce.com.

Salesforce.com has a lot of moving pieces and add-ons that need to tie into process. Many businesses forget about that tying in part – but it’s critical, and it takes time. The process and workflow for each user affected should be mapped out before implementation. You need to make sure that a step isn’t excluded from consideration – it could result in a costly error if you need to reconfigure the system or re-train everyone. Salesforce.com simply automates these steps; it doesn’t create and map them for you.

 

2. Understand all the effects.

It’s easy to put on blinders during the implementation and evaluate the impact on sales for the sales implementation, evaluate the impact on marketing for the marketing implementation, but where things get hairy is with the cross-departmental impact. When implementing any of the modules for Salesforce.com, consider the impact across the organization for all departments. Here are some examples.

  • All contact information collected by sales is in one system, and another set of contact information used by Service another. Now departments that need access to all customer info, like Service, A/R, and Collections need to make multiple calls to get the whole story, or you need to buy more licenses to give them access to all the systems. Your service times may get longer and costs may rise more than expected.
  • The Salesforce.com system is generating a set of sales forecasts, and Finance is using a different set from a different system.  If the two numbers/systems are not in sync, then sales numbers will not accurately roll into business targets.
  • Contacts are updated in Salesforce.com by sales, in another system by Service, in yet another system for contracting and billing. If no integration is established or master file identified, your marketing contacts will go to “wrong” records, rendering it less effective and more expensive.

Have cross-department team meetings to discuss the software before purchase and before installation so that you’re not caught off guard with the costs related to fix issues that were not considered. 

 

3. Go slow at first.

We know, you saw all the bells and whistles; you love them and want them all. We suggest you buy and implement in stages – get the basics, master it, then move on. Get a start with just what you need to meet your #1 need to get a feel for how long it takes your users to get to know the software. Implementation also requires a skills audit, not everyone is going to catch on. Your top rep yesterday may not hold that place tomorrow if they can’t keep up with the system. It will take you time, a year or so, to evaluate adoption and team skill. Going slow also lets you see the effort (time and people) needed to customize, build reports and train users.  All the small nuances in the software will surprise you, but at least you’ll be ready for the next phase of implementation.

 

4. Just Say No.

You don’t need every single module. They sound nice, and look great – all your users want them, but are they worth the investment for your business. Do an ROI on each software application so that you know what you expect to get out of it before you buy it. If it outweighs the hard and soft costs for all affected, go for it, but if it does, don’t get it. Just like any new business investments – the latest version of Office, updated HR software, upgrading printers and copy machines, and more, you need to decide what you need now, what you can get later, and what simply isn’t needed.

 

5. Ongoing Salesforce.com training.

Initial kickoff training is great, but have an ongoing plan that reinforces learning, covers new hires and software updates. In our experience, you’re going to need full-time support for this system. The software is updated on a frequent basis in addition to the big seasonal releases.

Want to make a new hire reconsider his or her choice? Leave them floundering with a new system and no training. Although a sales rep may have used salesforce.com before, they may not be familiar with your process, which could lead to doing things wrong. Make sure your regularly scheduled new hire training also covers the CRM system.

If you want to keep current user adoption high, make sure you train them on the changes as soon as they happen. No one wants to log into the system right before a new prospect meeting and have to deal with navigating change they didn’t know was coming. Yes, you’ll always have a few that “missed” the training or communication on the update, but it’s easier to deal with them as the exception rather than the rule.

Also make sure that any new software updates don’t “break” any of your custom setups. Salesforce provides a sandbox environment for testing to keep you up-to-date. They also provide administrators will all the changes well in advance to roll out. Here are the details for their latest release: Salesforce.com Winter ’13 Release.

by   Mark Christie