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6 Best Practices for a Successful Salesforce Implementation

Looking for transformational technology to help your business? Wondering whether Salesforce is “it?” Wonder no more: here are the facts.

Research shows that businesses that implement a customer relationship management (CRM) solution like Salesforce can realize gains in revenue up to 41% per sales rep. After implementing Salesforce, companies have also reported a 35% increase in customer satisfaction levels.

Wondering how a CRM tool can deliver such extraordinary ROI? We’ll make it simple: it’s, well,  complicated.

Salesforce implementation can get complex, but it doesn’t have to. If you know which best practices to follow, your company and your employees will be able to accomplish a smooth and seamless transition to the market-leading CRM solution. 

Salesforce: What Is It? How Does It Do What It Does?

Salesforce is a popular customer relationship management software solution that takes full advantage of the cloud, allowing businesses to connect with their customers anytime or anywhere.

Although Salesforce’s primary solutions are geared for case, task, and issue management, it also has enterprise software tools for commerce, customer service, information technology (IT), marketing, and sales. (Hence some implementations getting complex…)

As of this writing, Salesforce remains the leading CRM solution across the globe. Various industry analysts have ranked the brand at or near the top worldwide for large companies or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Of course, to reap the platform’s full benefits, it is essential for any growing business to seamlessly implement Salesforce into its existing platforms and, more importantly, its existing sales processes and teams.

Salesforce works best when its many components are aligned with your company’s specific requirements. Of course, those requirements may vary depending on the nature of your business, its size, operational complexity, and budget.

Here are six best practices to keep in mind…

Coordinate with Stakeholders in Setting Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

Stakeholders in your sales, marketing, and revenue departments are key to successful implementation because they will be most impacted when the CRM goes live.

Thus, the goals you set before getting started must closely align with the needs of your stakeholders while helping fulfill bigger company objectives (like increasing revenues or improving profit margins).

Setting short-term and long-term goals with stakeholders will invest them in the process, and should also give your company an idea of how to organize your implementation into various phases, each with its own success metrics.

Run a Complete Audit and Situational Analysis

Performing a complete audit and situational analysis of processes and platforms in-place should grant you an opportunity to review all facets of your business operations, including all internal and external workflows, a review of the current state of the market, and an examination of your competition.

The audit and analysis will also allow you to identify the low-hanging fruit and the biggest hurdles and set both priorities and KPIs, which help further fine-tune your implementation objectives.

Lastly, an audit should give you an idea of whether or not your company has the existing resources to achieve a successful rollout: financial, material, human, etc.

Assemble Your Salesforce Implementation Team

Obviously, a Salesforce implementation is never a one-person job. It takes a team–one with experience, expertise, bandwidth, and a complete understand of his/her role and clear expectations of required outcomes.

A team may consist of:

  • A certified Salesforce implementation specialist partner or consultant (typically, a outside consultant)
  • An internal Executive Sponsor who can focus on ensuring the implementation’s success (ideally, a C-level exec)
  • A Project Manager or Project Managers: different phases may require different kinds of management
  • A Project Owner who can act as the implementation team leader; typically, this falls to heads of departments most directly impacted by the Salesforce implementation (e.g., marketing or sales)
  • An internal Salesforce System Administrator: you want this person involved early as they’ll be responsible in the long-run

Formulate User Adoption and Training Plans

When Salesforce is implemented, that’s only the start. Creating a plan that helps users embrace the new technology and train them on how they’ll need to use it are critical.

Organizational change management plays a central role in both adoption and training by helping users understand both “the why” and “the how.”

It’s the former that’s most important, as when people understand why a change is taking place–why a new CRM has been implemented–they’ll have a greater understanding of its benefits to the organization (and their own departments and roles), and be more likely to readily adopt and benefit from training.

Use a Go-Live Checklist

Your go-live checklist will prove useful both during the days or weeks leading to the launch date and on the big day itself.

What should be included in your checklist? We recommend the following:

  • Extensive, documented testing of every relevant Salesforce CRM feature, function, and integration 
  • Prior notice to all affected end-users (sent multiple times days before launch date), with links to training programs where relevant
  • Information dissemination about existing systems and departments that will be affected, including expected downtime (if applicable)
  • Basic information about training to all employees
  • Guide to reporting issues or problems, pre- and post-implementation
  • A thorough run-through of all system functionalities immediately after live deployment

Create Post-Implementation Protocols

It’s important to establish post-implementation protocols to ensure that the Salesforce CRM is used properly and well-maintained. These protocols may include:

  • Guidelines for proper usage (to prevent abuse)
  • Reporting or feedback system for end-users
  • Archiving of resources and documents for training and references
  • A software update strategy (like most cloud-based business applications, Salesforce periodically releases updates)

Whether you choose to implement Salesforce yourself or partner with a consultant, this powerful CRM platform can help you grow your business significantly.

And if you’re still unsure about why you should welcome Salesforce, consider the benefits—consolidating insights from your customers’ activity, easily building a wide array of customer journeys, automated communications, forecasting, and so much more.

With a few training sessions, an adoption and implementation plan, and a post-implementation strategy, you can empower your team to deliver the customer experience your clients deserve.