Five tips for implementing complex Salesforce projects

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Customer fulfillment is key for a business to be successful in the market. A great CRM, or customer relationship management software, helps you keep tabs on all aspects of your company’s sales and customer contacts, providing the invaluable analytics you need to understand what makes your customers satisfied. As Andela’s Director of Revenue Operations, I’ve overseen a number of critical Salesforce projects to help our team better understand our customers’ needs.

Salesforce is a powerful CRM tool that reportedly holds 19.5% of the overall CRM market, beating the likes of Adobe, Oracle, and Microsoft. Studies also indicate that companies who switch to Salesforce see a 25% increase in revenue and a 35% increase in customer satisfaction. After our switch to Salesforce at Andela, we were able to build a clearer and far more efficient CRM experience.

Onboarding a new software can be a daunting task. The success of a digital tool ultimately lies in how users understand its potential to maximize its value. One of the best ways to learn this is to avoid the mistakes of previous users.

Having led the RevOps team to implement Salesforce CPQ and Billing, we tackled a “Frankenstein” environment weighed down by years of iteration and business process changes. Here are five takeaways from the journey that have stuck with me.

Hire niche experts

Salesforce leverages various clouds from sales, marketing, workflows, customer service to data analytics amongst others. Depending on which cloud you want to implement or leverage in Salesforce, you need to hire talent that are experts in that particular cloud niche.

Like most of my team members, I am a certified Salesforce admin. Yet over months of using Salesforce my expertise now lies in the revenue cloud (CPQ and Salesforce billing.) By bringing talent tailored to your specific Salesforce needs, you’re sure to avoid amateur errors that slow down the progress of your Salesforce system.  

Moreover, these experts can then efficiently coach the rest of the workforce on how to use Salesforce for their day-to-day tasks.

Have an open and creative mind

It’s natural to approach new digital tools with knowledge of the ones you’ve used in the past. Though I would encourage you to challenge the biased lens of past software you’ve used.

Don’t build your Salesforce project around what you already know about CRM tools or what you’re used to seeing in them. Instead, build your project based on how Salesforce was meant to be used in its own right. This will require keeping an open mind and exploring the creative possibilities of Salesforce.

Many of us become impervious to this knowledge gap (between the known and unknown), perhaps because we’re afraid of taking some wrong turns.

Yet it is this very process of trial and error in Salesforce, that will lead you to build a more efficient, scalable, and clearer CRM system, than the one you were working with before.

Such foresight will allow your tech to support and reflect the future growth of your organization.  

Clean your data  

For startups and growth-stage companies, experimentation with tech is often at an accelerated pace. This usually leaves behind a graveyard of tech debt and broken processes.

Often Salesforce implementation teams are so focused on the new features, that they don’t prioritize data clean-up. Duplicate or dirty data in your system can produce low-quality code that leads to incorrect forecasts or insights to confuse your team. These issues then cause unnecessary downtime to resolve and reduce the overall productivity of your company. Ensure data auditing and clean-up are addressed before your Salesforce implementation to achieve the best results.

Keep it simple  

Keep your new CRM system with Salesforce simple. Don’t over-automate or add multiple text entries and drop-down menu options for all processes. CRM is a system that is built for everyone in the company, right from the data team to the sales team. Each team has a varying degree of tech adaptability. Simplification prevents repetitive queries and keeps operations clear to employees across the spectrum of the company.

Some administrators might question your simple style and request over-engineering the Salesforce interface. Make sure to be assertive at this time and explain how keeping things simple is in the interest of your organization.

While it might seem counterintuitive at first there will be long-term appreciation for your simplification vision. As a simple CRM allows the entire workforce to be in sync with ease, especially when over time, leadership changes and teams grow.

Post-implementation plan

For consistent Salesforce success, a post-implementation plan is crucial. Appointing an administrator who can continuously monitor and ensure that data remains clean and users are adopting the system is vital.

Avoiding these pitfalls that I learned through my Salesforce journey will help you avoid time-consuming and often expensive fixes with the system going forward. Moreover, it’s also sure to get your Salesforce cloud environment up and running smoothly for the long term.

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