Salesforce.com Without Sales Process…Beware!

So, you’ve made the plunge. Your organization has decided to upgrade its CRM to the world’s most powerful, most customizable, most dynamic CRM tool available, Salesforce.com. Perhaps you’ve replaced an existing CRM software program, like ACT, or Maximizer, or you’ve simply moved past simple Excel spreadsheets, realizing that in order to stay competitive in today’s markets, your sales team really needs to advance the technical aspects of tracking each and every client or prospect interaction.

Congratulations!  Salesforce is a powerful and all-encompassing tool, and your team will benefit when they understand how it works and they start to leverage it to their advantage.

What you might not know

Salesforce is not an out-of-the-box program and it is not an inherently easy program to understand. On the surface, sure, it is relatively straightforward to understand how Leads, Contacts, Accounts and Opportunities function and how they relate with one another. But beyond that, lies the real power of Salesforce. And unless you know what you are really doing, your organization is likely to miss out on the true advantages this program can deliver.

Take away the technology for a second. Ask yourself – what is our company’s sales process? Is it documented? Has it been validated? Does each sales rep and sales manager understand it, let alone follow it? One of the first questions we ask sales departments – if we put all of your sales reps and sales managers in separate rooms and gave them each a blank sheet of paper, and asked them to map out the existing sales process, what output would we get?  If the sales team isn’t able to provide a standardized, consistent process diagram, then we really need to start there.

Sales Process, Dashboards & Admin

While Salesforce.com is wonderful, it remains somewhat limited if you haven’t developed a sales process outside of this program. Because, one of the great things about Salesforce, is that it enables the sales team to stay on top of the process, and hence, allows for managers to better track where each rep is within each lead, opportunity and account.

Another question that we ask – are the executives and senior managers all clear on what they want to measure and can they tell us what they want to see in reports and dashboards?  Salesforce is tremendous at providing all of this information, in real time, but it can only be configured to do so, if it’s told what to produce. And the information it generates, of course, is only as good as the data being input.

And those are just two areas. Because frankly, there is just so much information around what Salesforce can, and should do, for your business. And each year, Salesforce makes three new upgrades, with continuous features and applications.

So, when you’re planning your budget for CRM upgrades, ensure that you also budget for initial implementation, training and ongoing admin support for this tool, otherwise you simply won’t be getting what you really need. A good rule of thumb is about a third of the annual licensing costs for initial implementation and training the sales team, and about a third for annual Salesforce admin costs.

Salesforce Training & Consulting is a professional sales training firm and Salesforce.com Consulting firm based in Toronto, with training labs in Boston and Chicago, providing sales coaching, sales management consulting, salesforce implementation, sales training and sales personnel assessments.

by   Mark Christie