Here’s a familiar refrain that we keep hearing, over and over again. It seems, the more successful and popular Salesforce.com becomes, the more that companies are struggling to embrace it fully. And yet, while companies in record numbers keep signing up for subscriptions, paying thousands of dollars a month to have the latest in Cloud based CRM technology, many are simply using it for nothing more than a really powerful rolodex.
In our experience, there’s really three core reasons why companies are finding Salesforce.com so difficult to implement and understand.
#1. Lack of a clearly established sales process
If you know only one thing about Salesforce.com, know this…Salesforce.com is designed to automate a sales management process. If you don’t have a clearly defined sales management process, then you’re just not ready for Salesforce.com.
Salesforce.com without a clearly defined process is just a big waste of time (and money). So many companies seem to think that just by bringing in SFDC they will revolutionize their business. What they fail to understand, is that Salesforce.com is simply a tool. A tool designed to take the existing sales / sales management process and not only automate it, but provide incredibly clear transparency into everything the sales (and marketing, and customer support) team is doing.
But in order for Salesforce.com to be truly effective – and this is critical – it MUST be configured first to map the sales management process first (see more on customizing the system in point #2). And in order for that to happen, there must be a sales management process outline.
What is that exactly? Well, this outline should define everything that sales, marketing and customer service touch. Salesforce should be set up to track everything about where Leads come from, what happens to them when they arrive, who calls, what happens next, when are they considered an Opportunity or thrown away, what happens to that Opportunity, etc, etc, all the way to a Closed Deal, and even beyond that when an existing client is managed.
But without a clearly defined, step-by-step outline of how this all happens, then adding Salesforce won’t help much. The SalesForce Training solution is geared to work with you to help define this process, determine what’s going on and what improvements should be made. From there, customization of the system is next, which leads us to….
#2. No Salesforce customization
The system comes fully loaded – everything on. It’s up to the business to determine which features they want to turn off/hide. The system needs to stay simple so when users log in, they don’t see 20 different functions that they don’t use, nor would they ever use. The same goes for all input screens.
If the system is overly complex, sales people won’t use it correctly, and will omit key data or key in erroneous information. Similarly, if the training is not geared towards a sales audience, they will tune out, never giving it a chance to succeed.
The SalesForce Training solution helps us to determine, out of the 1,000 different features, which 5, 50 or 500 are needed by your group to be successful basic users. It also tells us how those 5, 50 or 500 features need to be set up. Salesforce.com is very flexible, and allows features to be setup a multitude of different ways.
#3: Lack of defined performance goals
In order to get the most of a CRM program like Salesforce.com, companies should always outline a set of performance improvement objectives that they can measure and track over time. And, by the way, getting Salesforce.com because we want everyone to be “more productive”, is not a goal! (Not a good one, at least).
An organization should consider a tool, like Salesforce.com, because the organization has decided that it wants to do things like;
- Reduce sales cycle time by 50%
- Increase the number of qualified leads that are released to the sales team to 100/month
- Increase conversion ratios of leads to fully qualified opportunities to 40%
- Improve the closing ratio by 20%
Of course, a lot of these goals, and ones similar to them, must take into account that existing ratios actually exist. Well, for most companies, they certainly exist, but you’d have a tough time finding anyone who could accurately tell you what they are.
At SalesForce Training, we work closely with the organization to help define these goals. By having a set of defined goals, you’re starting to use Salesforce.com for what it is – a tool. Hence, the sales manager can decide that his team’s lead conversion ratio is not high enough and that he needs to bring it up, from what he presumes to be 25%, to something closer to 40%. Salesforce.com can not only track what the team’s real conversion ratios are, but they can also compliment the effort by ensuring that everyone stays on track with the sales process. It can then help the sales manager to determine where his/her team needs additional training and support based on the data that is being driven by Salesforce.
Now, in reality, there’s other reasons why Salesforce.com isn’t working for some companies. Bad data, a lack of training for the team, no mandate from the top, or certainly no adoption from the top. We’ve seen instances where the company wants the sales people to embrace Salesforce.com, and yet the leadership won’t use it themselves! We’ve had other firms tell us that their senior reps are busy closing million dollar deals, so we had better wrap up the training sessions within 30 minutes!
Like anything, there’s not just one or two causes. But a fundamental appreciation for what Salesforce.com is (and what it isn’t) and what it’s meant to do, is a critical first step to making it work better.
SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional coaching and training firm that specializes in helping companies navigate their way in a Salesforce.com environment. SalesForce Training is based in Toronto, with trainers in Boston and Chicago, providing sales coaching, sales management consulting, Salesforce.com training and Salesforce.com Admin support, sales training and sales personnel assessments.