How to Implement Salesforce Successfully - Work Backwards!

We don’t literally mean “work backwards.” You would get a lot of strange looks in the office if you did that. What we really mean is… begin with the end in mind. In meeting with 500+ decision makers (CEO’s, company presidents, VP of Sales, VP of Marketing, VP of Operations, etc.) in my career regarding how to implement salesforce.com, all too often clients want to dive right in and start customizing and configuring their instance of salesforce.com.  If this Ready-Fire-Aim approach is taken, the implementation process can be lengthy, inefficient, expensive, and lead to an installation of salesforce.com that falls well short of the mark.

Rather, just like building a house or designing a car, it is critical to take the time to discuss what you want the result to look like, and determine what functionality you want it to deliver. To that end, here are some general guidelines to think about, and questions to ask yourself and your team, before beginning your salesforce.com implementation.

Sales Functionality

  • I want my sales representatives to….
  • I want salesforce.com to enable my sales team to…
  • I want salesforce.com to provide the following information to my sales team including…
  • When in the field, I want my sales representatives to have access to…

Marketing Functionality

  • Is marketing currently integrated with my sales teams and sales processes?
  • If not, how do I want it to integrate? (Think web leads, email leads, call in leads, email marketing, trade show leads, etc.)
  • Is marketing using the same database of prospects and leads as the sales team?

Customer Service

  • Can the sales team see comments from our clients’ most recent call into our customer service team?
  • Can the sales team assign a task while on the road to a customer service team member? (Send out a new product brochure, or call the client to solve a customer service complaint they just told the sales rep about)
  • Can customer service see that an upcoming meeting is scheduled by the sales rep to remind them to discuss an outstanding invoice?

Data and Analytics

  • Where is my financial / ERP data currently kept?
  • Do I want that data in my instance of salesforce.com? If yes, who do I want to have access to that data?
  • Do I want my financial / ERP data pushed to salesforce.com in real time, daily, weekly or manually on an ad-hoc basis?
  • Do I want salesforce.com data pushed into my financial / ERP system? If so, what data? How often?
  • What reports and KPI’s (key performance indicators) do I want to report on?
  • Do we need forecasting built into our instance of salesforce.com?

Collaboration

  • Do I want to connect to customers, partners and/or employees using salesforce.com Communities as a way to share knowledge and collaborate?
  • Do I want to provide my customers and partners a secure way to access product information and share their feedback?
  • Do I want to share solutions with my customers?

User Adoption – This is one of the most important factors to consider, as no matter how well we design and implement salesforce.com for your company if no one is using the application, it’s like buying a new car and never driving it. As a good friend once told me, “User adoption is like digging a hole in the sand at the beach; it requires constant effort and attention.”

  • How will I launch salesforce.com to my teams?
  • What initial training can I provide?
  • What ongoing training resources can we provide?
  • How will I measure user adoption success?

This is by no means an all-inclusive list of questions. In fact, these questions will usually just get the thought process going to uncover your goals for implementing salesforce.com. In fact, our Business Process Review (BPR) at the beginning of any engagement usually takes at least 2 to 3 hours, and that is if every key decision maker and stakeholder is in the room.  With larger, more complex organizations, our BPR’s can take a few days to complete.

The key thing to remember for a successful implementation of salesforce.com is to take your time and really think through what you want your instance of salesforce.com to deliver, and how you will measure success in each area. Also, how you plan to  include the necessary stakeholders, users and key leadership teams to ensure a well balance approach to your salesforce.com implementation.

Just as when building a house, it is much easier to make revisions during the design phase, than to redo parts or all your “salesforce.com house” once it is built.

BlogChris Conroy