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.

Leadership

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.

Communication

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.

Persuasion

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.

Resources

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.

Measurement

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.