“This will work for now.”
That sentence is a trap that many small businesses fall into when investing in a CRM. They build a platform for the now but occasionally at the expense of their future. So they end up with a solution that they outgrow in a couple of years, if not months. That leads to inefficiencies, bottlenecks and costly rebuild projects.
In a previous blog, we discussed why Salesforce is the right tool for small businesses. One of the points mentioned: A scalable architecture that can support any size organization. But scalability isn’t just about which CRM you choose; it’s also about how you build a solution for your team.
So here, we’ve listed 6 different tips for building a scalable Salesforce solution — one that will save your business time and money as your customers and employees multiply.
6 Ways to Build a Scalable Salesforce Solution
1. Nothing too specific. (Don’t fret over one-offs and edge cases.)
When implementing Salesforce, some small businesses fall prey to designing a solution that fits every use case. They aim to build their platform so that it can expressly accommodate every one-off, exception and nuance. So they end up with a solution that works perfectly for a month but breaks as soon as a new exception arises.
Customizing the platform with 80-90% of situations in mind instead allows you to capture the core elements of your business that won’t significantly change as you grow. Doing so will result in a more stable and scalable solution that should serve you well, now and in the future.
2. But nothing too generic. (Avoid lumping multiple teams into an ill-fitting solution.)
Small business leaders just as often make the mistake of designing too generic of a solution in an attempt to save money. They ignore the different processes and sales cycles among their teams and instead attempt to combine everyone into one universal solution that kind of fits everyone, but isn’t a real fit for anyone.
As your business grows, the imperfections in this sort of generic design will become more and more apparent. The differences between teams and processes will widen, making the shared solution unsuitable for anyone. As a result, these designs typically result in rebuilds and optimization projects within a year or two.
Instead, we recommend building team flexibility into Salesforce from the very beginning. Using record types, roles, and profiles will provide you a platform structure that your team can grow into. It may seem odd creating roles that hold only one employee, or may even be vacant. But remember, we’re building for the future as well as the present.
3. Automate as much data entry as possible.
Data entry represents the most time-consuming part of any CRM, so it’s important to automate this step in the process as soon as possible. You may think it’s okay for your marketing team to enter 5 leads manually per day, but this solution won’t work when that number grows to 50.
Instead, consider ways of automating data entry. Use process automation tools in Salesforce to speed up work and eliminate double entry. Consider using a marketing automation tool to pull lead information into Salesforce seamlessly. Invest in an email connector like Salesforce Inbox or Cirrus Insight to instantly log events and emails on the platform. Your employees (present and future) will thank you.
4. Beware of single-person bottlenecks.
As you’re designing your technology process (how your employees interact with your CRM), watch out for any points in the flow where you rely on a single person. As your business scales, these points become bottlenecks where multiple people end up waiting on this one employee.
Concerning Salesforce design, you could say the same principle as “Avoid hard-coding one person into any rule or automation.” For example: Let’s say you currently have one sales manager, Joe. It’s easy to design a Salesforce solution that’s built for Joe: email notifications go to Joe, approval requests go to Joe, et cetera. But then what happens when Joe goes on vacation? What do you do when you have two sales managers? You have a future rebuild on your hands.
We recommend building your system dynamically instead. For example, you should set these types of rules based on the manager of the current user or the person listed as the “Sales Manager” on the opportunity. Not a hard-coded reference. Doing so will make it much easier to scale your teams on the platform.
5. Use queues and assignment rules to delegate work.
One easy way to avoid the bottlenecks mentioned above is to use queues and assignment rules. Both of these features allow you to route new work to users without leaning on a single person. Again, it may seem counterintuitive to set up a queue for one marketing employee, but this setup will prove much more amenable when your marketing department grows to 2, 4 or 8 people.
6. Implement Account, Opportunity or Case Teams to promote future flexibility.
Similarly, using teams at the account, opportunity or case level lets employees work together by promoting co-ownership of records with co-workers and managers. Opportunity teams, for example, encourage your people to take a more collaborative approach to sales. They allow multiple employees to step in and move work forward when the primary “owner” is away or tied up. So even if your team is too small to leverage this functionality, implementing it now will pave the way for future teamwork and efficiency.
Growth is the critical goal for any small business. So when you implement Salesforce, you should do so with an optimistic mindset — build the platform for the organization you think your business can be. A scalable Salesforce solution can provide you with years of CRM support without a pricey redesign. Doesn’t that sound like the type of platform your growing business needs?
For more best practices to follow as you get started, check out our free ebook on foolproof ways to maximize your Salesforce investment.