Three Steps to Salesforce Implementation

Salesforce implementation can almost certainly help your company improve efficiency somewhere, if not across the board. Salesforce is now used by thousands of companies around the world to enhance a full gamut of business operations, including: 

  • Marketing automation
  • Sales pipelines
  • Inventory tracking 
  • Partner management
  • Customer portals 
  • And many more 

Many companies – perhaps yours – haven’t implemented Salesforce into their operations yet. Understandable. 

Migrating certain processes from your current CRM to Salesforce can seem daunting. Nonetheless, the benefits almost always outweigh the costs. Planning ahead and working with a Salesforce consulting partner can increase annual revenue by an average of 37%.

Fortunately, with nearly 20 years of experience implementing Salesforce, we’ve seen the mistakes made by 100s of companies, and they can be avoided. We’ve broken down Salesforce implementation best practices into a hop, skip, and jump. (Or in MBA speak: a three-step process.)

Step One: Evaluate and Document Your Teams’ Processes 

Salesforce implementation is never a homogenous endeavor. Salesforce is both robust and modular. Its innate flexibility can be tailored to your company’s specific needs – keyword being specific.

The first step is to map out your teams’ current processes and data requirements. Determine what processes work well and which processes have proven efficient. Identify your teams’ pain points or where they could benefit from automation. Analyze the intelligence and deliverables expected from these processes. Are your teams meeting these expectations? If not, now is the time to plan how these processes can be more efficient and document how Salesforce can help.

At this point, you’re ready to choose one of two team-based implementation strategies. 

Strategy One: Implement Your Existing Business Processes in Salesforce

If your current CRM works well for a particular group, this strategy may be best. Hire a Salesforce consulting partner to build out your teams’ current business processes and databases into Salesforce. Salesforce is extremely customizable and has robust APIs to meet all kinds of needs. It’s unlikely any major modifications to existing operations or internal processes will be needed if your teams are already working efficiently. The key is to tailor the system to work the way your teams already work, and automate what can be made more efficient. If anything, lack of Salesforce training would be the main issue. Training is addressed in Step Three below. 

Strategy Two: Re-engineer and Enable Business Processes in Salesforce 

Of course, some workgroups will experience inefficiencies and subpar performance due to their current workflows. In such cases, Salesforce implementation allows you to reinvent and improve these processes. There are two ways to do this. 

  • Use Salesforce recommendations: The simplest solution is to take an existing workflow and convert it to align with Salesforce’s default recommendations, with some tailoring to make it suit your circumstance. Salesforce defaults often work very well out of the box, because they are based on incredible amounts of business data. You can iteratively customize these defaults to suit your exact needs over time. 
  • Build a new system in Salesforce: This will take more time and resources. However, if you’re not happy with how your workgroups share data and information (e.g., integration among marketing, sales, and support), creating holistic processes from scratch is a viable solution. This strategy has higher up-front costs than using default recommendations but often reaps the highest return on investment (ROI) over time.

Step Two: Decide How to Stage Your Salesforce Implementation

Now you can base implementation decisions on the individual strategies devised in step one. Since you’ve determined how your teams will use Salesforce, you can plan which operations can be transferred to Salesforce quickly and which will require more time and development. The benefit of Salesforce is that it can accommodate both types of implementations concurrently.

Implement Salesforce All at Once

Migrating your teams into Salesforce all at once is a viable option if your operations are already efficient, and none of your workflows need to be completely reimagined or completely migrated to Salesforce. Migrating your entire infrastructure at once is complex. Without assistance, disruptions may be inevitable. Partnering with an experiencedSalesforce integrator can help ensure nothing goes awry, as well as provide ongoing Salesforce tech support for your employees as they adapt to the new CRM.

Implement Salesforce in Waves

Migrating your operations into Salesforce one at a time takes longer. The advantage? You minimize disruption to your business’s workflows and productivity. Often, a step-by-step implementation is dictated by the strategies you developed in step one. If you have teams requiring different Salesforce implementation strategies, they may not need to migrate concurrently. It’s equally unappealing to wait until every team has figured out how to customize their workflows and processes to implement Salesforce. Holding some teams back from implementing the new CRM could cost your business money and new sales.  

Step Three: Start Using Salesforce Implementation Best Practices

You know what your teams need to work efficiently in Salesforce. You have determined how and in which order they should be migrated. Now, it’s time to start the actual migration using Rainmaker’s list of Salesforce implementation best practices. 

Customize for Optimal Productivity

Salesforce is amazingly customizable compared to other CRMs. It allows your business to design and implement unique, branded user interfaces tailored to specific business unit needs and preferences. You  can build customizable apps designed to meet your specific needs. Everything from auto-form fillers to pre-formatted exports can be configured for consistency across your company. The Salesforce AppExchange also offers over 5,000 security-checked apps to make your teams more productive. 

Clean and Transfer Data into Salesforce Cloud

The devil is in the data. Do not underestimate or under-budget this process. Migration offers your business a chance to clean up existing data sets. Transferring data into Salesforce can range in complexity depending on whether you previously used a CRM or are importing in-house databases with unique data schemas. Give yourself time to get it done right. You might also want to consider hiring an external Salesforce consulting partner to help. 

Test Salesforce Functionality and Data Integrity

When making such a large migration, quality assurance is key. The last thing you want is to have your entire business working in Salesforce only to realize that some database or functionality you presumed was working is not. So, make sure you test the system rigorously before you go live.

Deploy to a Testing Environment

You need to give your employees a safe space to experiment, learn, and make mistakes. Initial Salesforce deployment should be done in a User Acceptance Testing (UAT) environment. Only once employees and teams are trained and comfortable with the new software  should they be allowed access to the legitimate Salesforce CRM. 

Ensure Salesforce Adoption through Training and Support

All the best planning and quality testing in the world are irrelevant if your employees don’t embrace the software. After spending so many other resources implementing your new CRM, help your teamembrace it by offering quality Salesforce tech and business operations support. Your employees are more likely to learn and engage in Salesforce best practices if they are offered robust training and ongoing help desk support. 

Salesforce Migration Victory is within Your Reach

Salesforce implementation can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t hold you back any longer. You can successfully navigate your company through CRM transition and avoid the pitfalls experienced by less-prepared adopters, by following Rainmaker’s Salesforce implementation best practices. If the going gets tough, Rainmaker offers implementation services to help you at every step. 

You don’t have to dive solo into the Salesforce ecosystem. We’re here to help. Contact us now to learn how. 

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