Salesforce Lessons Learned

December 5, 2013
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In October 2012, we decided to use Salesforce.com at Collective Bias to organize and report on our sales pipeline. Just over one year later, Salesforce tracks our shopper media and blog marketing programs from the lead-gen stage through program execution and delivery.

We just renewed with Salesforce for another year and look to extend its reach into other parts of our business using products from the Salesforce App Exchange. Our road to implementation and in-house adoption has gone less than flawlessly; however, we’re still barely tapping the potential of the Salesforce platform.

If I could go back and do everything over again, I would have made the following changes to our adoption and implementation process.

  • Hire a SalesForce administrator– We decided to adopt Salesforce prior to receiving our Series-A funding. We had few resources to hire additional staff so a couple of us oversaw the implementation with a 3rd-party Salesforce consultant. I would still probably have used a the 3rd-party consultant, but our adoption rate would have gone much faster with a dedicated resource overseeing internal training and customization.

  • Kick out the crutches- After implementation, our sales team took a little while to start putting information into the system. Consequently, they continued to rely on the Google-spreadsheet-from-hell to track our sales pipeline in the weekly status meeting. When we locked the team out of that sheet and forced them to work off the Salesforce dashboard in the weekly meeting, we saw immediately higher engagement levels each week.

  • Identify and fully engage departmental stakeholders- We took a fairly top-down approach to implementation. The sales team leaders needed a system. We identified Salesforce and then went about setting it up for everyone. During this setup stage, we identified stakeholders in the client services and sales teams to focus communications and training for their teams. In hindsight, we should have put those people on the initial implementation team as well.

  • Get the executives on the system as soon as possible- When your CEO gets the one version of the truth from a system, people tend to make sure and have their data correct and up-to-date in that system. Get your execs trained on the system first and make sure they ask for reports from that system. Nothing else will spur adoption faster.

No technology will fix a flawed business process. Think about how you should be doing things and design the process to fit that mindset. Only then should you invest the time and resources in a workflow automation and relationship management system. When you make that choice, invest in the resources you need to properly support the investment. We made a good choice with Salesforce but we’re still making up ground from some choices we could have made differently a year ago.

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