You can ask almost any company out there which CRM is the best, and they’ll almost unanimously agree on Salesforce. Salesforce has over 150,000 customers and approximately 3.75 million users. It controls nearly 20% of the CRM market, and roughly 83% of all Fortune 500 companies use at least one Salesforce product.
Salesforce is a robust CRM that has a seemingly limitless number of features, options, and upgrades. Deciding to go with Salesforce is easy, however implementing this beast of software is challenging. While you might be tempted to wing it, when it comes to Salesforce, that’s a terrible idea.
Salesforce does offer a basic, out-of-the-box solution, and if you’re a small company that doesn’t need anything customized, this might work for you. However, for most companies, implementing Salesforce is a serious undertaking. If it’s implemented correctly, it can radically change the flow of your business. It offers unparalleled automation, an incredible view of the customer pipeline, and an array of sales productivity functions.
But, if it isn’t done correctly, it can be a major headache. It not only leaves you and your team frustrated, but it can cost thousands of dollars. In the end, you’re left with an unworkable CRM, and no one wants that.
So, how do you ensure that your Salesforce implementation is successful?
Plan Out Everything: Asking the Hard Questions
As the saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” This adage applies to many things, but it’s especially true with Salesforce implementation. You need to get clear about several things before you dive into it. Here are some questions you need to ask and answer before you sign up for Salesforce.
- What’s your budget? Salesforce costs aside; you’re likely going to have to hire developers or use Salesforce consulting services. While you might have staff on hand, Salesforce uses its own coding languages and processes. You could dedicate your entire life to learning Salesforce, and still not know it all the way through. That’s why most people need to hire some outside help. Get a grasp on your budget to know which plan you can afford, and how much you can afford for external resources.
- What’s your timeline? Salesforce implementation and onboarding can take a long time to complete. Also, once it’s live and rolling, you’ll have a whole staff to train on the new system. Figure out how long you have available to get Salesforce going and create a plan around meeting that timeline.
- Who is overseeing implementation? You will need to have one person in charge of the Salesforce implementation process. There will be hundreds of questions that need quick answers. If you have an executive that has the time, that’s the best bet. Otherwise, you’ll need an employee who you trust to make the appropriate decisions for the company throughout the implementation process.
- How does your current pipeline look? Salesforce, like most CRMs, has opportunities, leads, accounts, contacts, and more. You need a good grasp of your current marketing and sales pipelines, and a clear vision of what you want to improve in those processes before implementation. Salesforce can dramatically automate acquisition, closing, and follow-up, but you have to know what you need in order to ask for it.
- How many users will you have? Salesforce charges based on number of users and features. Will all your staff be using Salesforce? Or will it be reserved strictly for your sales team? This question goes back to budget a little bit, because your budget might impact how many users you can afford to have.
- What types of tasks are you hoping to automate? Salesforce has several services. They have their sales cloud, their service cloud, their marketing cloud, the community cloud, and more. Each product can automate virtually every single task inside your operation. You can automate follow-ups, email sequences, reminders, chats with customers, and more. Decide which tasks you’d like to automate, and plan to make that automation a priority in implementation.
- What about the data? How much existing customer, lead, vendor, and staff data do you currently have? Do you have a plan for cleansing that data and exporting and importing it? Transferring all your existing data to the new platform is one of the biggest challenges, and one that people don’t think about very often. Salesforce has several tools for importing and deduping, but you must know how to use them. Get a handle on your data needs before implementation, and devise a plan around the export, cleanse, and import.
- Who will train the staff on how to use the new system? Employees are notoriously rough on new software. Especially if they’ve been using the same system for a long time. Don’t underthink the learning curve and the resistance you might face. You need to know who is training the employees, who the go-to resource will be for ongoing training, and how long it might take for your employees to be able to use Salesforce efficiently.
Why You Have to Plan with Salesforce
You can’t go into a Salesforce implementation haphazardly. You need to be able to answer the above questions and have concrete plans for addressing each of them. You have to know exactly what you need and have a strategy for reaching your goals on budget and in your allotted timeline.
It’s advisable to hire an expert, or a few experts, to make sure you do it correctly the first time. However, if you’re deadest on doing it on your own, be sure to plan accordingly. Research Salesforce’s help documents and online forums, and learn as much as you can before starting.
Salesforce is an incredible tool, but don’t underestimate the implementation process. If you plan ahead and work smart, your company will be increasing productivity and revenue with Salesforce in no time.