Take a look at six preconceived notions about Salesforce before you begin planning for a new CRM solution. You may be surprised how well Salesforce will work for you.
Sales and marketing leaders, along with IT executives, know that deciding to implement a CRM is often a process. Once you form a committee, your organization or consulting firm must evaluate different platforms.
These decisions can sometimes lead to challenges related to bias, both from you and from others within the organization. Whether you have an internal bias or not, Salesforce is a solution that you should add to your evaluation process. It’s the number one CRM solution for a reason, and it warrants a seat at the table.
Once you enter the evaluation phase and your organization decides to evaluate Salesforce.com (commonly referred to as SFDC – Salesforce Dot Com), and quite possibly a few other platform options, where do you begin? Salesforce is an extremely popular solution, and because of that, many employees may have preconceptions of the solution. Let’s address these preconceptions so that you can move forward in your evaluation process.
Choosing a CRM: Top Six Preconceptions of Salesforce
Simply choosing a CRM can seem onerous, which leads some companies to delay implementation. And once you finally start the process, the people involved are likely to have biases. However, your team needs to consider CRM platforms as objectively as possible, especially with a solution as comprehensive as Salesforce in the mix. As Centric’s Salesforce Practice Lead, I frequently hear misconceptions specific to the Salesforce platform and suite of clouds. You need to be prepared to address these concerns in your role as a CRM champion in your organization because your competitors are not waiting!
1. “Salesforce is too expensive.”
This is the most prevalent comment I hear, and yes – Salesforce can be expensive because it has so much to offer. However, you can work with Salesforce in several areas to bring this cost down. As part of the sales process, your account executive will ask questions about your short- and long-term strategies. When you answer:
- Evaluate not only license costs (hard costs) but also soft costs, such as time. Know what your current state processes look like, documenting the redundancies, the manual entry, disparate spreadsheets (sound familiar?), and duplicate work involved. These variables can reduce soft costs, which can make the price of Salesforce more appealing. It will also help you to understand your requirements and lead to a smoother implementation.
- Expect to eliminate solutions you can perform within SFDC or the AppExchange.
- Understand what your users need to access and why. Salesforce offers different license types, some of which you can use for external collaboration as well. The license types are available at various price points. Objects (a table of data), such as opportunities and cases, typically require a full license, but a platform license may suffice for custom objects or account and contact objects.
- Consider how many users you have who will only need to view reporting. If you have many users in this category, products on Salesforce’s AppExchange can likely deliver reporting to non-Salesforce users.
2. “We are too small for Salesforce.”
I have seen companies of two people use Salesforce so effectively it became their only operational platform. They tied in an accounting solution from the AppExchange and sold new opportunities, serviced clients, tracked commissions, and tracked inventory within the platform. It truly depends on your use case and the strategy and thought you put into the problems to be solved.
3. “There are so many clouds on their website. I don’t know which one I need.”
That’s true. There are many clouds. Salesforce started a strategic initiative to create specific clouds by industry. This gives customers the ability to leverage the power of the Salesforce platform with “out of the box solutions” for healthcare, insurance, financial services, manufacturing and others.
The most important consideration when evaluating which cloud to use is your vision for the future. Some clouds have different data models that can become difficult to migrate from the Sales or Service Cloud. Be sure your account executive or consulting partner asks you questions that help develop a road map for each cloud. These questions should give you an idea of what a transition may look like for you to convert to a specific cloud in the future.
4. “I need to integrate with Salesforce, but I have other vendors’ products.”
Great! Very few organizations strictly use Salesforce, but it can still be your single source of truth. In fact, creators designed Salesforce with this in mind.
Salesforce offers solutions like Mule Soft, plus traditional API access, to assist in the ease of integrating with other systems.
Integrations don’t have to be scary, especially in a SaaS solution. Salesforce also has resources that can assist with the process. A reliable consulting partner will have many options to assist you, as well.
5. “It’s hard to find talent.”
Good talent is always hard to find, and the market is hugely competitive. But you may not need a Salesforce Architect during the early phases, if ever. The level of complexity you need and the number of users you have will determine your long-term support team needs. However, you will need a dedicated resource to manage Salesforce on an ongoing basis.
Salesforce is one of the most innovative companies in the world, and they offer three releases a year – which clients can immediately use. Your system administrator should evaluate these releases and help the organization decide which features to use.
One of my favorite questions when interviewing candidates is: “How did you start your career with Salesforce?” Frequently, this uncovers a case of the “accidental administrator” – someone who either raised their hand (or had it raised for them) and became an organization’s administrator overnight. Recognizing this common scenario, Salesforce created a truly amazing community for these trailblazers who provide support in forums, and it provides fantastic free training tools, like Trailhead. The vendor selection committee often overlooks this added value, but for us accidental administrators, these resources are a lifeline.
6. “We tried Salesforce, and it didn’t work.”
Unfortunately, failed implementations are common, but that’s not a Salesforce specific issue. Typically, the matter is related to operational change management. This piece of the implementation is critical but often overlooked. Setting clear expectations and creating governing rules help set the stage for a successful implementation. If your company does not have a change management division, rely on your partner (if you have one) or Salesforce to assist.
If you do not have a partner, you may feel lost among the thousands available to you on Salesforce’s AppExchange. Many companies choose the partners with the most certifications or skills, and completed projects, but more often than not, a strong relationship outweighs technical aptitude. I’m not advocating to ignore credentials, but if your company already has a trusted consulting firm that understands your business, ask them if they have a Salesforce practice. Credentials are the easy part. The relationship and the trust you place in your partner is critical to the success of your implementation.
If your organization does not have a trusted consulting firm in their back pocket, make sure you interview the individuals who will lead the project and those who will work with your team. Do you want a lot of face-to-face interaction? It’s important to choose a local partner. Ask for recommendations within your network. Personal experiences will help add color to your evaluation. It’s not uncommon for Salesforce to introduce you to partners as well. Your account executive trusts these partners, and they should be part of your evaluation process. It behooves you to have options.
Preparing for common concerns about Salesforce will help you have a robust process no matter what CRM vendor you ultimately choose. A partner who can provide excellent resources to assist you is critical in the evaluation process. They can provide invaluable guidance from similar client experiences, and they will know what your likely needs may be in the future. With the right CRM solution and a well-planned implementation, you will be well-positioned for scaling your efforts through Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud or other tools.