Is Salesforce Too Challenging for your Sales Team?

Does the thought of your Salesforce make you sigh? Or use colourful language? The most common call we get at Salesforce Training is that the sales team is confused, not using Salesforce for anything more than a contact management program, and login every few days or so. Many report that Salesforce seems overwhelming, 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.

Now, the sales pitch about Salesforce is true. It really does do a lot for many different departments in different organizations. It streamlines sales process, imports prospect data, simplifies customer contact, improves internal communication with Chatter, facilitates work groups, warehouses massive amounts of data, generates contracts, and way more through all those cool integrated apps. But how best to get there?
Well, here are 5 important takeaways to consider as you set up Salesforce for your company.

1. Marry your sales process to Salesforce

OK, here is the key. Salesforce’s main function is to automate a business process. That’s it. Nothing more. So let’s start with a process that almost every organization has – the sales process. Some companies have highly complex and multiple sales processes, others have ones that are incredibly simple. But, even if you don’t know it, you do have one. What is absolutely key to remember though – Salesforce simply automates these steps; it doesn’t create and map them for you.

What makes this more complicated is that Salesforce has a lot of moving pieces and add-ons that need to tie into process. Many businesses forget about that part – but it’s critical, and it takes some time.
Hence, 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.

2. Align data from Salesforce with those from other systems

It’s sometimes easy to forget the impact to other departments that need to share the same data during an implementation. When implementing any of the modules for Salesforce, consider the impact across the organization for all departments. Here are some examples.

  • All Contact records collected by sales are in one system, and another set of Contact information used by Service resides in another. Now departments that need access to all customer info, like Customer Service and Billing, need to make multiple calls to get the whole story, unless you acquire more licenses to give them access to all the systems. Your service times may get longer and costs may rise more than expected.
  • Salesforce 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 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. Take baby steps

We know, you saw all the bells and whistles at Dreamforce; you love them and want them all. We suggest you buy and implement in multiple phases – get the basics, master it, then move on. A common first step that we recommend is basic training for your primary users. For sales reps, give them a half day workshop on Salesforce basics – Salesforce terminology, how to navigate the system, and how to manage Activities – both Tasks and Events. 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 a few months 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. Prepare to say ‘No’…often

You don’t need every single app. 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. Train…not just once, but ongoing

Initial kick-off 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 working for you? Leave them floundering with a new system and no training. Although a sales rep may have used before, they may not be familiar with your version of Salesforce, which could lead to doing things wrong. Make sure your regularly scheduled new hire training also covers the CRM.

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.


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