Salesforce should help your Sales Team to Sell. So why isn’t it?

Today’s salesperson has more resources available to them than ever before, yet it seems as if all of this guidance and support is doing more to bog them down than to lift them up. Most would agree that the advent of technology into the world of selling is largely beneficial. But then why has it become such a chore – a complicated one at that – to leverage that technology and guidance and turn it into increased revenue, or even just keep up with your competition?  

Why is it that with basically unlimited resources available to us, we’ve made such a mess out of supporting our hard-working salespeople? And let’s be honest here… we’ve really made a mess of this. 

Like many things, there’s not just one simple answer – there are several contributing factors. Perhaps one or more of these apply to your sales team. Perhaps they all do.


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Failure to Understand the “Why?” 

So you’ve bought Salesforce. Awesome! Congratulations!! 

Now ask yourself, why? If you can’t answer this, then you’re going to have problems very soon. And even if you can answer this question, take a good look at the response. Many companies that we’ve worked with bought Salesforce because they knew that they needed to move to something more powerful than just a spreadsheet. They realized that there was simply no way to grow any further without leveraging a true CRM instead of Excel to manage deal flow.  

However, just slapping technology at a perceived problem, without really understanding what it is you’re trying to solve, is only going to lead to headaches. Big ones. 

What they’re missing is a set of goals that will help focus their aim. Things like, “Reduce sales cycle time from 8 weeks to 6 weeks by end of Q2”, “Improve our win rate from 25% to 33% by year end”, and “Convert 10% more of our marketing qualified leads within the first 3 months”. Not only will establishing a set of benchmarks help your organization improve, but it will give you the key reasons for implementing Salesforce in the first place. Not only that, these goals will enable you to track your progress along the way, and really understand whether Salesforce is helping you or not.


The Wrong Implementation Partner

Salesforce, with all its success, has spawned a massive ecosystem of partners ready and willing to offer either their services or their technology to improve and enhance your experience with Salesforce, all for a fee. At last glance, there were 2007 Consultants listed on the Salesforce App Exchange, with 873 devoted to Sales Cloud (where we live).    

As a training company, we’ve worked with some excellent partners, and some that… well… And even within the excellent partners, especially the larger ones, you may be assigned to a consultant that doesn’t bring as much expertise to the table as the more senior consultants. Or they may have an excellent reputation but not specific experience in areas central to your business model. 

But with the incredible rise of Salesforce and the lucrative business that is Salesforce consulting, we’ve found in the past few years that more and more firms are entering the fray. And some of these firms, to be frank, have absolutely no idea what they are doing. 

So, picking the right implementation partner, and the right training and adoption partner, has become considerably harder over the years.


Not Putting Process First

This one is the biggie, and we see it over and over and over again. Implementing Salesforce without nailing down your sales process first. Listen, if you do one thing right, do this. Sit down and map out your sales process first. And then ensure that everyone on the sales team understands the flow, and knows what it means to follow it. This part is considerably harder than it sounds, mind you, and can take weeks, if not months, to finalize. And without even knowing your business, I can tell you that right now, that you have more than one sales process. At a very basic level, you probably sell to brand new prospects or new logos, and you probably also sell to existing customers. And you can’t tell me that you do these two things the same way.  

Here’s the thing. Simply adding Salesforce to the mix, without first identifying your true sales process, mapping it out, and then configuring Salesforce to support it, will make things for your sales team infinitely harder than they are today. At the end of the day, Salesforce is designed to do one thing, and that is automate a process. But that’s precisely it – you need to have a process first, before you can automate it.

“Salesforce is a great tool once you get a strong grasp of it.”

Giovanni DiStefano
Senior Territory Manager, Alma Lasers North America

Talk to Salesforce Training


One of the main factors for the enormous success of Salesforce lies in its customizability, and the relative ease in which one can customize. Their famous tagline, “clicks, not code” refers to the declarative (rather than the programmatic) nature by which their software can be altered. No longer does one need a sophisticated background as a developer who can program with code to modify the CRM. Salesforce was designed so that you can basically configure the software to suit your business requirements simply by clicking the right links. Of course, that means you need to know what to click, and more importantly, when to click and when not to click.  

What we mean by this is that too often, because Salesforce is so transformable, eager Salesforce consultants or IT team members, add all manner of fields and automation simply because they can. We’ve seen Account page layouts with over one hundred different fields that exceeded ten or more sections. 

The most telling part for us comes prior to an engagement. We’ll ask a sales leader to walk us through the various pages for Leads, Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities – we call it the Field Trip – and we ask them what the purpose for each field is. And often they don’t know what many of the fields are there for. The harsh reality is that most sales team members cannot tell you what is expected of them when it comes to filling out over 60% of the fields on a Salesforce record page. I’m often astounded at the number of times that I’ve asked sales leaders to explain to me the purpose for having certain fields – both custom and standard – in Salesforce and they can’t. Often they are unaware that they are even there. And yet, somehow we expect this to be a tool for sales teams!

Boiling the Ocean

Here’s the thing with so many Salesforce implementations. We want to fix everything. I get it. It’s tempting. You’ve got an extremely powerful CRM tool, capable of doing so many things, and one that you’re paying handsomely to license. So it may make sense, on the surface, to deploy Salesforce to do as many things as it can, all in one or two iterations. But what this approach fails to account for is that we need actual people to use it. And the more we want to implement the longer it takes to train and the harder it is to get people to change. 

Typically what we recommend is to start using Salesforce to take over the items that the sales team is already doing, but just in another format or system. Take an obvious one, for instance. We’ve worked with lots of firms that are moving from reporting on spreadsheets to Salesforce.

And for the most part, they’re pretty successful at getting salespeople to complete the required items on the spreadsheet each week, despite the many grumblings that emerge when salespeople are asked to do anything with an administrative flavor. But at least, they understand what needs to be completed, when it needs to be completed and generally the reasons for the requirement. Plus Excel is a pretty simple tool to manage, so apart from the tedium that comes from completing a spreadsheet 30 mins before the weekly sales meeting, most salespeople recognize that this requirement comes with the role.

Now, moving to Salesforce, it becomes a very straightforward task to take the information that we are collecting on the spreadsheet and translate it directly into Salesforce. Any junior Admin will know that a column in Excel is the same as a field in Salesforce and that a row in Excel equates to a single record. It should be a very rudimentary exercise to customize the fields on the Lead, Contact, Account and Opportunity records so that they match the same columns currently in place on the spreadsheet. Reports and List Views can then be built to mimic the Excel spreadsheet that everyone is already using. So now, instead of our reps completing cells in a spreadsheet, they’re filling out fields in Salesforce. Inline editing even allows them to complete the data right inside the List View, which is about as close to mimicking the activity that they’re already expected to do. This approach means that the training is minimal and that the transition to Salesforce is significantly more seamless out of the gate. Then, once the sales users have grasped a comfort level with using the new tool, can you begin to introduce new functionality. But if you make it too complicated right from the start, then salespeople will long for the simple days of spreadsheets, despite the tedium.

But time and time again, we see organizations dive into trying to do so many things with Salesforce, including routines that the sales team is unfamiliar with. So on top of learning the new technology, they need to learn new processes as well. And we wonder why adoption falters!

The Fix

Now these aren’t the only reasons that sales teams are generally poor at utilizing Salesforce, but they’re the ones we run into the most often. Fortunately, the fix is within sight.

Our approach at Salesforce Training is to address all of these issues prior to helping you implement and train on Salesforce. We need to ensure that your Salesforce implementation is going to be solving key issues that your sales team is running up against today, and that the transition to a new CRM is as seamless as possible, but focusing on replacing current activities that your sales team does today, and not adding new ones….at least to start.

Salesforce Training is a professional training firm with trainers in the UK, Canada and the US, that specializes in helping companies and their sales teams get more out of Salesforce. Our Sales Team Game Plan is designed to provide sales leaders with a road map to leverage Salesforce as a proper management tool.