Thinking Outside the Technology Box with Salesforce Implementations

If you’ve observed or handled a few Salesforce implementations, you’ve probably seen it all – the good, the bad and the disastrous. And when things go wrong, there’s often a collective shrug from the team, as if to say: hey, this is hard, what do you expect?

But there’s a concrete reason for most failures, which makes them highly avoidable. Ready?

The reason is that many of these companies are so focused on the technology that they forget about the people and processes. Or to flip this around, here’s how successful teams manage their Salesforce implementations: they plan in advance to transform their sales organization. Yes, they think that big and they’re the more successful for it.

Here’s why it’s necessary. Only by factoring in staff dynamics can anyone motivate their team to fully adopt the technology. Sales leaders with foresight go beyond a few training sessions; they connect the potential benefits of the system to the team’s daily challenges so the staff understands the technology will make them individually successful as well. Then there’s the change management aspect. Everyone who’s lived through a major overhaul knows that failure to consider the human side of the equation dooms the initiative.

If you think this all sounds kind of vague, we have some practical tips below. Practice these six pillars in your implementation and you’ll see stronger adoption rates – even with teams who are initially unenthusiastic about the change.


Talk to anyone who’s undergone a massive organizational change and they’ll tell you that strong leadership is mandatory. That doesn’t mean being a figurehead; it means being 100% committed to the initiative and engaged. Sales reps, marketing directors and other critical players won’t support the change unless that vision and energy comes from the top down.


Even projects that get off to a strong start will falter without ongoing communication. Keep everyone updated on the implementation progress, apprise them of any delays or shifts, and share good news to keep everyone motivated. Also key: invite questions and answer them.


Announce a Salesforce implementation with no surrounding context and your sales team is likely to balk. They’re the ones undergoing the upheaval and adjustment, after all. Provide them with the why by reminding them of the benefits – not just to the company’s bottom line but their success. Those Salesforce insights are going to connect them to their prospects’ hearts and minds, helping them be that much more successful in closing.

Cross-team Alignment

Salesforce implementations are just about sales, right? Wrong. They’ll impact other teams like marketing and customer service, which means aligning your teams early on is a smart idea. If you can lock down that kind of support early on, you’re more likely to enjoy more resources during the transition, from fresh marketing content to revised compensation and recruiting profiles from HR.


Our industry talks a lot about hiring the “right people.” But what rarely gets said is that knowing how to use their skills counts just as much. Spend time thinking about the skills and knowledge you need – then set about recruiting the right people. Think you already have the right talent? Remember that your Salesforce transformation will involve new processes, even new playbooks and methodologies. You may be hiring new staff.


Not all metrics are created equal. Instead of chasing your tail on worthless numbers, make sure you quantify your success and failure with the measurements that matter. Too many teams think “more is more” and collect all the measurements they can – but that just leads to a wealth of numbers that takes more time to comb through than they’re worth. Figure out which factors accurately reveal performance, set benchmarks, and spend time placing those results in context.

By now I hope I’ve made my point. Positive transformation doesn’t happen without effort. Enforce the above practices in your Salesforce implementation and you’ll have a committed team eager to do their part to transform the organization.

Making the Transition from Legacy to the Cloud

Name a seminal moment in the history of sales, and chances are industry veterans will name this one: when on-premise technology stopped being the only option and teams could enjoy Salesforce’s cloud-based CRM delivery model. The Internet has changed almost every aspect of modern life, but for the sales world, CRM apps were indeed the shot heard round the world.

That was almost 18 years ago and the changes Salesforce wrought have changed business forever. There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle; after experiencing the convenience of the cloud, many teams’ eyes were opened to the drawbacks of on-premises solutions.

They also realized the long-term advantages of cloud software. Businesses could deploy new tools without forking over massive capital up front. Affordable to manage, maintain and update, these tools provided faster time to value and let even small businesses adapt to changing market dynamics with more agility and less investment. And of course teams could turn the dragon that was ever-increasing data into something manageable and insightful.

This evolution put enterprise companies at an intersection where they needed to choose between cloud solutions or industry-specific on-premise software. Plenty of them chose the latter; today many of them are saddled with legacy CRM systems that in many cases are proving a burden. These systems can’t integrate with other systems, nor can they be customized to meet unique organizational dynamics. Rarely can they deliver up the kind of precise data intelligence offered by Salesforce.

Newer companies run by digital natives, on the other hand, face no such struggles. These new players on the field can fearlessly embrace developments like IoT, Big Data and predictive analytics because they have that agility built into their foundation. Instead of spending extra resources trying to devise workarounds, they can simply adapt in whatever way is required by market changes. As a result, many of these young companies enjoy competitive advantages that enterprises can’t imagine.

So it’s not surprising that many of the bigger companies that chose legacy systems can now see that moving to the cloud is inevitable. At the same time, making the transition isn’t that simple for them. Why? Because they also worry that in building a cloud CRM that accommodates their processes and workflows, they face a possible “rip and replace” of their legacy system.

So here’s some good news. Thanks to recent technological innovations, these companies can take advantage of the new industry cloud solutions partnering with Salesforce. Built specifically for vertical markets like healthcare, insurance, communications and the public sector, these solutions partner the benefits of the cloud with industry-specific functionality.

And no, this isn’t a “rip and replace” scenario. These new tools can help organizations modernize their systems via incremental steps that will complete their transition without disruption. The companies will keep the specialized features and functions required by their industry, while still enjoying better forecasting and smarter data interpretation. There’s no reason to fear moving from legacy technology to the cloud – not anymore.

The last 20 years have represented a quantum leap for the sales field. It’s safe to say the future will bring only more pioneering new tech that can transform us in ways we can’t imagine. By bringing more enterprise businesses to the cloud, the newest tools continue to redefine the game.

CRM Implementation without Tears

It’s said that business mistakes are the tuition you pay for success. If that’s true, one of the most common payments is in CRM implementation, which tends to be fraught with errors, frustration and lessons learned.

Consider the many areas in which it can go wrong. Automation. Scalability. User experience. Analytics. The integration of existing processes. CRM implementation doesn’t happen in a vacuum; every element works togther like instruments in an orchestra to create (or obstruct) a successful infrastructure. No wonder why so many businesses look back at their Salesforce implementations as a trial by fire. All too often that first experience serves as education for the next major initiative.

One of the riskiest areas in CRM implementation, of course, is data – one of the most central aspects. From the initial migration to data entry and ongoing integrations, handling data correctly is key to a successful Salesforce experience.

Consider bad data, which can jeopardize a new implementation before it’s gotten off the ground. Maybe only part of the necessary data is there. Maybe the data is complete but irrelevant. Maybe it’s just plain wrong. Whatever the problem is, you can count on both users and team members becoming frustrated, then disengaged, once the issue becomes apparent.

The good news: this isn’t inevitable. By following best practices, you can head off a lot of the more common problems and pave the road for a smoother implementation. So with that in mind, let’s review some useful tips for handling data during this critical transition.

Start with a thorough data cleansing.

Let’s just say it; you need to be relentless. Obviously you want to eliminate duplicates and incompletes, but you should also focus on data quality. Is the right information there? Because here’s something we can promise you: your organization is going to invest serious time in migrating data. To minimize their time commitment, kick any outdated or irrelevant data to the curb. (The exception, of course, is when it’s required for compliance or regulatory purposes.) Your first instinct might be to cling to every last scrap of information in case it’s useful later on – but smart teams will keep what’s relevant and useful and be ready to let go of everything else.

Map it out.

Implementing a CRM is like going down a rabbit hole if you’re not following a cohesive roadmap. To keep everything tidy, create a data map that outlines elements like object relationships, field data types, precision and length. Also important: make sure you accurately evaluate the security requirements for your different types of data. Your IT security team will change your architecture later if you don’t, so be sure you incorporate that from the start.

Create the right processes.

Something you’ll want to devote some thought to is the relationship between your processes and your data. Which shapes which? Does the data drive your processes or vice versa? If you know you require a certain kind of data, you’ll want to maximize your chances by designing the right process. But you’ll want to think it through from the other direction also by evaluating the worth of your fields and objects in terms of current processes.

You’ll also want to update your current data policies for strong quality control. For instance, you might decide to require full contact names going forward to eliminate unhelpful entries like “Jeff H.” Or maybe you’ll mandate contact information, to avoid putting your sales team through the frustration of trying to contact “hot” leads without an email address or phone number.

Think about the future.

Data doesn’t maintain itself. Even the most careful groundwork and intelligent processes can’t prevent chaos down the road if your team doesn’t regularly manage and clean your data. Build strategies and processes now to ensure your system stays organized and clean. By deliberately designing a process to moderate the data, you’ll ward off the disorder of incomplete data, duplicates and outdated junk that can quickly fill a system.

If you’re facing Salesforce or some other CRM implementation in the near future, don’t be intimidated by the horror stories you might hear. The right best practices can help you manage your data like a pro and get you on the road to a smooth and advantageous new era.