What does Salesforce do for your company? Does it support your operational processes? Is it running your company? Or are you running your company and Salesforce is the system that ensures increased productivity?
Most of the companies in which I’ve consulted implemented Salesforce. In every case, it was running the company (or at least the sales team). Not the other way around.
Like all enterprise applications, Salesforce is designed to codify many processes that are operationally critical to your success. But time and again I see Salesforce implemented before these processes are defined and documented in preparation for a Salesforce deployment.
That’s when Salesforce becomes a patient. Through a series of changes, band aids are applied to “fix” something that’s not working. A field is added, a new report is deployed, consultants are hired to patch the hole created by the evolution of a process that was never fully thought through or documented.
At the end of the day, what you’re left with is a critical piece of your infrastructure that no longer mirrors the most effective possible method of doing business.
Ask yourself some questions.
• Have you documented all of your critical processes? Does your Salesforce implementation support these processes?
• What is the relationship between Sales and Customer Service? Technical Support? Marketing? Production? Product Development?
• What is your sales process? When does a Lead become a Contact? What needs to happen for a sales rep to create an Opportunity?
• How well is Sales forecasting through Salesforce?
• What is your order to cash process? Does Finance use Salesforce? Credit?
• What are the key reports for each functional head?
• Is management using Salesforce reports in weekly discussions with sales reps? If so, how? If not, why not?
• Does Salesforce stand alone? Or is it integrated with other critical applications?
Did your Salesforce administrator or consultant ask you these questions? Probably not.
The most successful deployments of Salesforce are thought through as carefully as your most comprehensive operational or marketing plan. Would you hire a new employee without a job description? Create a manufacturing process without a product plan?
Salesforce consulting firms will do as they’re told. They get paid for customizing the application according to their client’s specification. This is not a bad thing. A deep knowledge of the application is required for a successful customization project. They have a role and most do their jobs very well.
Where my clients have seen significant ROI on their Salesforce investment has been in the work I’ve done to analyze these processes, compare them to the existing implementation, and then write the specification for their Salesforce administrator or consultant to make the necessary changes. By understanding the sales process and how the functional areas outside of Sales should interact with Sales, a customization specification document can be created to ensure a successful deployment.
Oh, and an added bonus is that your sales reps will be more productive and typically increase revenue production significantly. They’ll also be a happier group!
For most of you, it’s time to recoup your investment in Salesforce and dramatically increase revenues by aligning all areas of your company while creating an implementation that allows everyone to be more productive.
It’s time to stop the bleeding.