Top Salesforce implementation tips and best practices
POSTED : March 24, 2015
BY : Jack Pereira

Deploying Salesforce in your organization is not best handled with a flip of the switch. Building a strong Salesforce implementation plan is key to realizing quick wins, immediate system adoption, and high ROI. The greater complexity of your system with integrations, mobile components, and products beyond Sales Cloud, such as Visualforce, the more robust your plan should be. Read below for our top Salesforce implementation tips and best practices.

1. Invest in your people

You wouldn’t invest in your ERP system without having a capable controller with the right training. You must have the right number of Salesforce administrators to users in your organization in order to get results. And not only should you have enough administrators, developers and analysts to support your solution, but they also need the right training. According to Salesforce.com, customers who receive Salesforce training realize a 52 percent higher user adoption rate and a 132 percent increase in their sales pipeline! Similarly, make sure you have end-users ready to test the functionality as its being deployed in the sandbox. Click here to find out how many administrators you need for your organization.

2. Consider starting small to validate the model and provide a proof of concept

Some enterprise businesses choose to buy a small number of licenses for a department so they can optimize Salesforce within the trial group, then expand it across the enterprise. How you approach the implementation for the enterprise is usually based on the philosophy of your executive team. If you’re using an agile or iterative approach, you can build a proof of concept and tweak it to gain buy-in from all users. Understand that implementing the solution across the organization will take much more up-front planning but will translate to quicker wins if done correctly. Starting small will give you the chance to play around with the system. There’s no right or wrong here.

3. Gather and document complete requirements

It is very impossible to arrive at the right prescription without the right diagnostic. The same thing applies to your CRM or other systems. In order to implement the right CRM for you, it is necessary to determine what are the needs, the problems, and the root cause. These are the requirements for your systems that need to be gathered and documented. They can be divided between “must-have” and “nice-to-have.” A proper cost versus benefit assessment should take place to define nice-to-have requirements that should be implemented.

4. Hire an implementation partner

A good Salesforce consultant has experience with companies like yours and knows what problems you might expect as you go through the implementation process. An implementation partner can help set you on the right path for immediate success and ROI. To select a partner, assess their capabilities, industry expertise, business leadership experience and reliability with time and budget. Consider a partner that can be your guide beyond your initial implementation; this is a journey. A good Salesforce partner will recognize areas of your business where you can expand Salesforce for greater organizational efficiency and productivity. Read more on Why You Need a Salesforce Consultant here.

5. Recognize your technology is only as good as your people and processes

Implementing new technology is a surefire way to make your business more efficient, productive, and profitable. However, it takes process change in order for the technology to work. You must have modern sales processes, customer support processes, data management processes, and more in order to implement Salesforce effectively. Make sure you customize Salesforce to your unique business processes. Sometimes this requires changes to your team structure and responsibilities.

6. Secure executive buy-in

Your executive team must enforce this rule: if it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist. When a new business computer system rolls out, many times the tendency for end users is to continue using the same systems they’ve been using such as Excel, Outlook, sticky notes, and more. To allow the continued use of these methods is a recipe for failure. You need to make it part of the enterprise DNA. Organizations successfully using Salesforce and Chatter greatly minimize internal email, and in some extreme cases, eliminate internal email altogether. That forces communication into Chatter where greater collaboration can take place.

7. Clearly outline responsibilities

We sometimes work with clients where nobody in the organization has taken ownership of Salesforce. One person must be responsible for the success of Salesforce whether it’s an administrator, sales director, IT director or marketing director. Specifying a single person rather than 3-4 people is important.

8. Support your solution long term

Planning your implementation doesn’t end on your go-live date. After the initial implementation, Salesforce offers three new releases a year with new functionalities. Training and ongoing process improvement should be part of your yearly roadmap with Salesforce. When ongoing improvements aren’t supported after the go-live date, it can be a disaster and some end users go back to their old ways. Have a system for long-term success.

9. Have a roadmap for taking Salesforce beyond CRM

Salesforce offers so much more than a CRM. Using the Salesforce1 Lightning development platform, you can maximize the functionality of your investment to handle customer service, operations, marketing tasks and more. Work with your implementation partner to develop a vision for how Salesforce can benefit other areas of your organization.

Get our free guide to developing your Salesforce roadmap.


About the author

Jack Pereira

Jack Pereira is a chief cloud consultant at PK. He has held various high-profile leadership roles and has a passion for making companies well-positioned for growth.

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