As a content marketer, my favorite stage of a project is right after I’ve dreamed up what the finished product will look like, but before I actually start working on it. For that brief window of inspiration, my end goal exists as a perfect ideal, untainted by the fact that I don’t quite know how to achieve it yet. (Raise your hand if you can relate).
Once I come to terms with the fact that there’s still no way to directly export my vision into reality — looking at you for a solution here, Silicon Valley — I usually start by creating a roadmap that will show me the way from blank page to success. What’s the first concrete step I need to take? And after that? Then what? You get the picture. I sketch my way forward until I arrive at my final destination. Now at least I’ve got a plan.
Sometimes making a road map is easy, and sometimes it’s incredibly difficult. When I’m dealing with unfamiliar subject matter, I struggle — it’s like charting a course through a country I’ve never visited. I can’t read the road signs, and are those mountains on the horizon?
It occurred to me recently that an organization looking to implement Salesforce is likely to experience this same kind of disorientation. From the brand new terminology to a vast array of products — not to mention the ins and outs of the consulting world — it could prove overwhelming. So overwhelming that you decide to give up before you even start.
And I don’t want that to happen, so consider me your cartographer. In this post, I’ll cover the key aspects of an effective Salesforce implementation, (hopefully) helping you see the way to CRM success.
Step #1: Discovery
Salesforce is an infinitely powerful tool, but it will only bring value to your business to the extent that it’s designed to support successful processes. Think of it like a turbocharger — it’ll make a good car go faster, but there probably isn’t much point suping up a ‘96 Taurus with two flat tires.
After you’ve decided on a Salesforce implementation partner, their team will almost certainly begin the project with a thorough discovery process. Their goal? To learn as much about your business as possible, including the problem(s) you’re trying to solve with Salesforce and the teams who will be using it. If they believe your company needs to adjust certain processes and procedures to get the most out of the platform, they’ll work with you to design appropriate changes before jumping into the actual build.
(If you’re curious about what frameworks Torrent uses to conduct a successful discovery session, check out this recent post.)
Step #2: The Build
Once you and your implementation team have determined how your company will use Salesforce, it’s time for them to start building. That means they’ll be custom-configuring the platform to suit your business’ particular use case(s).
In most instances, this will involve a team of analysts building declaratively — that is, building without custom code. They’ll set up standard objects like leads, contacts and opportunities with the fields you need, and create any custom objects you might require as well. They’ll also set up automations like validation rules and workflows, to make sure your users can work with the system as efficiently as possible.
As we’ve written before, a Salesforce analyst is someone who “uses a series of tools to transform an out-of-the-box product into a custom solution that helps your company tackle business challenges. Part tinkerer and part logician, they make sure Salesforce functions exactly as you need it to.”
(If you’d like to check out that post in its entirety, click here.)
Step #3: Training
In our experience, some companies don’t place nearly enough importance on user training. Yes, Salesforce is powerful, but only if your team actually knows how to use it. If you don’t ensure that your users have the up-front knowledge they need, you risk low adoption. And when it comes to a CRM, low adoption means low ROI.
Your implementation team will be responsible for conducting initial training sessions, but there are things you can do as a leader to contribute to their success. For instance: Make sure everyone is free and on-site during training times. If you emphasize the importance of attendance, employees are much more likely to take it seriously.
(For other tips on how you can make your company’s Salesforce training a success, read our post on the topic.)
Step #4: Preparing for the Future
Once your implementation partner has completed all scheduled training sessions, their work is effectively done. Going forward, your company will need a plan for managing its new Salesforce instance — a way to solve problems and add new functions.
Putting it bluntly, you’ve got two choices: Hire a Salesforce admin, or sign a managed services contract (possibly with the same partner). Courtesy of a member of our client services team, here’s a metaphor that succinctly explains the difference: “Managed services [is like] a lawn care company. They’ll come by your house every so often to mow the grass, rake the leaves and water the plants. They’ll keep what you have looking nice. A Salesforce admin, on the other hand, is more like a full-time gardener: Somebody who’s there every day, likely with specialized knowledge. They’ll tend to the flowerbeds and trees that are unique to your yard.”
In other words, your choice will depend on your organization’s particular needs.
(If you need help figuring out which option makes the most sense, here’s a link to a post covering the factors you should consider in the decision-making process. And if you end up deciding on a Salesforce admin, here are 5 traits you should look for during the hiring process.)
Okay, there it is: Your basic implementation road map. If anything still seems a little unclear, let us know. We’d love to help.