Deciding on exactly what elements of Salesforce your organization needs before making a purchase can be overwhelming. We look at a few steps to take during the Salesforce implementation process to make sure you get what you need with as little headache as possible.
Salesforce is a remarkable platform with many options, and when you couple those options with the Salesforce AppExchange, the possibilities are truly endless. The journey to purchasing the solution can be confusing, and poor choices can leave you with clouds that are not a fit for your organization. These choices can affect the total cost of ownership of the solution and even affect the proper adoption and implementation of the platform.
Let’s talk about how you can alleviate some of the likely apprehension during the purchasing process and make your experience more enjoyable.
1. Engage with Salesforce
One of the most neglected pieces of the buying cycle is the use of Salesforce’s resources, all of which are accessible through your account executive or your success managers if you are a current customer and your organization is evaluating a new cloud or product.
One of my favorite roles within Salesforce is their Solution Engineer role. These individuals comprise some of the best knowledge related to configuration and customization. They can demonstrate a deep knowledge of the current Salesforce offering and provide future roadmap considerations (hello, Salesforce safe harbor). These individuals can help demonstrate proof of concepts and general navigation of the platform. If you have questions related to Salesforce and how it functions, even how it may function within your organization, they are the ones to help.
During demonstrations, it’s not uncommon for Salesforce or any other software provider to demonstrate tools that are not within your current quote or consideration. I encourage all of our clients to ask questions during demonstrations. When you see appealing functionality within a demonstration, it’s not too forward to ask if that feature is included in the standard price, is an add-on, or if it’s found on the Salesforce AppExchange.
2. Engage with a Partner
Meet the team you will work with and choose the group you want. Culture and strong resources can outweigh big impressive teams and numerous resources. Remember, during your Salesforce implementation, you’ll probably interact with this team for the next four to six months – or even years.
Here are a few questions to ask potential partners before signing on:
- How is your team’s dynamic, and what motivates them?
- If there is an issue with our project, how will you communicate it to me?
- What does effective communication look like to you?
- How would we handle turnover if it occurs?
- How much turnover do you have within your group?
- Can we maintain the same resources throughout multiple projects?
- Is the pursuit team the same team I will work with?
One of the most important pieces of advice I can give is to be prepared to ask the tough questions so your partner can hit the ground running. Challenge yourself and your organization to rethink what you know about CRM. Ask yourself these questions:
- What does it cost our organization if we don’t implement Salesforce or a lead CRM solution?
- How does it affect our company if we select the wrong partner?
- What are the consequences of poor adoption?
- How will we measure a return on our investment?
In his book, “Think Again,” Adam Grant says, “Good judgment depends on having the skill—and the will—to open our minds.” You want to build a strong relationship and trust with your partner. Treat your partner as an extension of your business and include them in strategic planning for the company alongside Salesforce initiatives. A partner has your best interest in mind and can help you navigate during the sales process.
3. Negotiate Before Your Salesforce Implementation
The first step before beginning negotiation talks with Salesforce is understanding how many products and services you need at this time and in the foreseeable future.
You need to understand how Salesforce negotiates and how you can leverage the variables to help you negotiate rates. Be honest with them, sharing your concerns and strategic initiatives. If you have business cases, growth plans or strategic goals, discuss those with Salesforce. Your account executive has to sell every deal twice. They have to sell to you, the customer, and then again to their pricing team. Any and all ammunition you can provide to them will help.
Negotiations don’t stop after purchase. During the first contract cycle, your company should begin renewals at least six months before your contract expires. This will allow you more time to renegotiate any terms and conditions. You also should be aware of Salesforce’s fiscal calendar year, which starts February 1. This may be a good time to use the end of the year to your advantage on pricing deals. You want to make sure you involve your executives in the negotiations and continuously manage your ROI.
Salesforce has different license types available, and because it is a platform, there are ways to extend the usage of the platform to users that may not touch the traditional Salesforce licenses, such as opportunities or cases. It’s OK to ask about these licenses and talk about how your organization can leverage these licenses to bring the total cost of ownership down and extend the platform. Your account executive can work with you on the various license types available.
4. Know your Process
Before you begin to implement any software, you need to clearly understand and define your business goals and processes throughout your organization. The software should be able to support the business needs and processes of each department involved in your project.
The knowledge you have about your business processes will help define the project scope and make sure the right people are involved. It is important to capture a clear picture and understanding of each process and how many variations exist. Think about all of the ways your employees complete their roles – each one of those is most likely a different process you need to standardize to incorporate into your Salesforce implementation.
Salesforce will help you streamline your business processes which will result in the efficiency and elimination of manual work. However, the upfront defining of those processes is as critical as the implementation of the tool itself.
5. Create Change
It is important to make sure all key stakeholders have buy-in, and you can demonstrate and explain the value of a Salesforce implementation. You want to keep consistent communication between leadership and your project team. We find the most successful projects are the ones where leadership is engaged, and they help define the processes, helping encourage user buy-in and adoption.
Without a change management strategy, you could run into problems that slow down your project. Take the time to create a plan before implementing Salesforce.
Team up with your account executive and your partner to challenge the “we’ve always done it this way” statements. Be open to change and learning more about Salesforce and its ever-changing, impressive platform. This mindset and these steps will help you and your organization adopt Salesforce more seamlessly than you realized was possible.