Why does Salesforce.com fail to achieve the desired results?

We see it over and over.  Companies, large and small, sign up for Salesforce.com, with little regard for how it’s supposed to help them, and how they’re going to roll it out to the sales/service or marketing teams.

Listen, Salesforce.com can do just about anything a sales department wants it to. But that doesn’t mean that it should. Set your goals, especially early on, modestly. Determine the 3 or 4 key things you want your sales team doing better, and determine the 4 or 5 key business metrics that you want to focus on.

Here’s where we find that organizations get themselves into trouble, even before they really start.

The reps immediately lose trust in management’s intentions

We often call this the ‘big brother’ syndrome. Management spins a yarn of how Salesforce.com is really just to help the sales team. However, the faith is lost upon the rep’s first Opportunity conversion. The next thing they know, the sales manager is hounding them several times a day wanting to know everything about the deal.  On a day or week when a rep has a little to no activity, they are immediately summoned into the manager’s office. Management questions everything about the meeting notes. And what happens is, the rep, wise to the ways of this new form of micro-management, stops entering everything that they should.

Little to no customization of Salesforce.com

When Salesforce.com is rolled out to the team looking exactly like it did the day you opened up your free trial, it guarantees that your new system is overly complex, and will decrease efficiencies instead of increasing them.  When you first sign up for Salesforce, it comes with everything turned on. The screens in front of the reps have the maximum possible input fields available. No rep in the world wants to enter all of this data, and much of it will be presented in a manner that’s not consistent with your team’s terminology. It is imperative, before roll out, to understand what your team’s process is, what data you want collected, the order in which it’s collected, and the nomenclature that your team is familiar with. Then, all of that needs to be programmed into your version of Salesforce, so that this becomes a CRM that is truly unique to your company’s environment and way of doing business. The beauty of Salesforce is that it is 100% programmable and can be tailored to fit almost any environment. Leaving it the way it came was never the intention.

Lack of a Salesforce training plan for the sales team

Companies that just expect the sales rep to open up Salesforce and intuitively understand what to do are just dreaming. We can ascribe many things to Salesforce, but “do-it-yourself” is definitely not one of them. How a sales rep would ever understand that everything should start at the Lead stage and that a qualified Lead should convert to an Opportunity, and at the same time converts to an Account and a Contact? When one understands the nature of the Lead conversion, it actually makes a ton of sense. But it’s just not something a rep would every figure out without a lot of effort and playing around on the system – not something you want any of them doing. Having a smartly laid our Salesforce training plan – after all configurations are compete, is an essential step to your Salesforce success.

No rigor around Opportunity conversion

Leads are converted into Opportunities whenever the reps feel like it, instead of when a defined trigger point is reached. There’s all sorts of mechanisms to determine when an Opportunity should be converted – we favor the COWMAN rule – namely when we know who are Competition is, something about the Organization, When the deal is likely to close, the Money budgeted for a solution, who is the top level Authority at the prospect, and what is the stated Need. Only when a sales person can answer all of the above, can we confidently convert a Lead into an Opportunity. When the sales team adopts a standard Opportunity conversion practice that is meaningful, then the sales manager can be confident that an Opportunity represents something more than just wishful thinking.

Today, the best sales teams have an optimized Salesforce.com system. But it’s only when best practices for implanting Salesforce.com are followed, that the team will see the benefits of adopting this tool.

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.

by   Mark Christie