Challenges Faced in Every Salesforce Implementation – What are the Real Causes?

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What is the difference between a good Salesforce implementation and one that falls short? What would you suggest is the best measure for CRM success? Or, would you agree that it’s tough to ‘put your finger’ on contributing factors?

While there are specific measures for CRM implementations that are widely used, assessing the true success of a Salesforce org requires us to look more holistically. We need to understand the greater forces at play first, in order to set ourselves up for longer-term, sustainable success for our Salesforce investment.

Without acknowledging the three overarching principles at play in every Salesforce org, we risk blinkering ourselves and monitor a single area. We may begin to get frustrated when we are not seeing results in a single area, without realising that the other two principles are the limiting factors. Only once we have grasped the principles can we return to quantifiable measures to measure on a day-to-day basis.

‘The Three Inseparable Principles’ is what we have named this CRM phenomenon. This post outlines the three principles – adoption, productivity, data quality – and their importance to CRM success. Then, we pick apart the interrelated connections they form – just like a sticky web that has perplexed Admins and Salesforce product owners for years.

Challenges in Every Salesforce Implementation: The Three Inseparable Principles

Ben headed up a Salesforce consultancy for over 4 years, overseeing countless projects across multiple Salesforce product areas during that time. Using his experience, he distilled the common, recurring challenges that cause frustration and force a barrier between organisations and realising ROI from Salesforce.

Why choose these challenges in particular?  Take a moment to consider, and you may see that these stem from ‘people problems’.  ‘People problems’ relate to how users accept, interact and adapt their working day to their Salesforce org. Clearly where acceptance and adaptability is lacking, users are not gelling with their org.

Faced with these challenges, we need to understand the greatest forces at play – adoption, productivity, and data quality. 

1. Salesforce adoption: getting users to actually use the system.

How you approach adoption will depend on the type of implementation.

Take a Service Cloud project, for example, service users have to use the system in order to do their job – to close cases. With Sales Cloud, however, users don’t necessarily have to use opportunities or leads to sell; reps can do this outside of Salesforce using their own methods (eg. Excel or paper-based, a favourite with old school salespeople). Of course, they won’t be realising the productivity gains that Salesforce offers, neither the reporting and forecasting benefits.

Kickstarting good adoption starts with involving users throughout the project duration and the quality of the training. Over time, the other two principles (productivity, data quality) will become the driving forces.

2. Data quality: data should be up-to-date, correct and relevant.

Data is the engine that powers the CRM. If data isn’t in a good state, then people aren’t going to trust the system – that is, if the data is wrong, out of date or is just considered clutter.

The most important thing management teams want to gain from Salesforce is reliable reports. If you compare Salesforce Lightning to other systems, being able to report on absolutely anything using a drag and drop interface is incredible – but it is a challenge to ensure that the right data is available in a Salesforce org to actually get the insights out that people need.

Data quality requires validation, automation, and a shared responsibility among all teams using Salesforce.

3. User productivity: users become more effective and more efficient by using Salesforce.

The main reason to implement a CRM! When users are more effective, they contribute to overall success in the business.

“This is my favorite aspect of the three principles because there are so many features out of the box. Salesforce is becoming increasingly more friendly to the user”, said Ben. We will dive into specific examples of where productivity can be improved in a typical org.

How the Three Inseparable Principles Work

Without acknowledging the three overarching principles at play in every Salesforce org, we risk blinkering ourselves to monitoring results in a single area, blind to the fact that it is, in fact, the other two principles that are hampering success!

Data Quality → Adoption

In its simplest form, users won’t use the system if they don’t trust the data but conversely, the data can’t reach a level of trust without the input from the users.

We spoke about earlier, if the data quality is low, if it’s broken, if it’s out of date, users aren’t going to trust the system, they’re probably not going to log into the system as much.

If they’re not getting good information when they’re trying to network into a businesses or upsell, they’re just not going to see the value of it.

Productivity → Adoption

It’s a similar story with how productivity impacts adoption. If tasks take longer to do, users won’t be rushing back to Salesforce!

An example is CPQ. Using CPQ can help speed up quote generation, massively. If CPQ is working as it should, people are going to enjoy using the system; however, on the flip side, if a quote takes longer to produce than in Excel, users are going to be far less keen to use the state-of-the-art Salesforce CPQ.

What if the fix isn’t as clear-cut? 

A challenge that Admins, ISVs and Salesforce themselves have been working to solve for the past decade is that Salesforce wasn’t originally designed with user productivity front-of-mind.

Salesforce classic was the Salesforce interface for approximately 15 years. Looking back, it wasn’t the most user-unfriendly, and left little UI customization options for Admins.

As a result, it took more clicks for a user to complete tasks. Salesforce Lightning has opened up opportunities for Admins to adapt the standard Salesforce UI to their users’ needs; however we should never stop asking: how many clicks does it take to accomplish a certain task? 

Take cold calling, where a user needs to work really fast, and is not optimised when using Salesforce out-of-the-box. Admins can research how to optimize the Salesforce UI, and also browse the AppExchange where many vendors have developed apps to bridge these gaps. A good app to solve the cold calling friction is GridBuddy, which allows you to work with multiple records in an efficient way, using an Excel-like interface.

Data Quality → Adoption & Productivity

Data quality links up with productivity because if data is in good quality, it becomes more actionable. For example, if a salesperson can see what their customers are currently interested in buying, what they’ve previously bought and other details, then they will be in a better position to identify upsell opportunities.

Obviously, this is going to positively impact adoption and also increase their productivity at the same time because they can identify these gaps faster without having to delve into manual analysis – or worse, resort to pure guesswork!

Summary

When asked what determines a good Salesforce implementation and one that falls short of expectations, it doesn’t necessarily boil down to a single factor. It’s tough to ‘put your finger’ on contributing factors.

‘The Three Inseparable Principles’ is what we have named this CRM phenomenon. These overarching principles – adoption, productivity, data quality – are at play in every Salesforce org. This post has shown that interrelated connections cannot be ignored – the sticky web that has perplexed Admins and Salesforce product owners for years. Looking more holistically at our Salesforce orgs means that we can set ourselves up for longer-term, sustainable success.

One thought on “Challenges Faced in Every Salesforce Implementation – What are the Real Causes?

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    In my 13 year consulting career, I always tell the client that I have 2 primary constituents in every project: 1) the Users and 2) Management.

    Management is paying for the licenses (and for me) so they want to be sure its worth the time and expense. While management wants better productivity, they are primarily interested in getting reliable and critical information out of the system (reports) in a timely fashion that will enable them to better monitor and manage their business, whether the entity is for profit or not.

    Users, on the other hand want Salesforce make their work easier. Most of them are typically not thrilled about having to change their processes and routines. It often slows them down initially and frustrates them. (Imagine you have been a lifelong PC user and all of a sudden you are required to stop using your PC and do all your work on a Mac – and you have never used one before – as a parallel).

    I always found that if I could find some quick wins with that factor among the users, they would (albeit, sometimes grudgingly) became fans of the new system. Thus they were more likely to use it and use it well, which results in better data, which results in reliable information for management. Win Win

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