Have you ever had a moment in your life when you almost made a decision – something you thought might not be the best idea – only to have someone persuade you to do it anyway? That was me when it came to Salesforce.
In the beginning, I was skeptical about the platform, but little did I know that my perspective would completely change. In this article, I will share my own experience of using Salesforce – although pricey and a little painful at times, the investment has been worth every penny and has even led to an increase in my own company’s valuation.
How Did It All Begin?
I was the CEO of a rapidly growing organization with over a thousand customers, and we were in need of a robust CRM to manage our sales process. Having researched various options, including HubSpot, Sugar, and Zoho, we found that Salesforce had the highest barrier to entry and required a lengthy implementation process. In our opinion, at the time, HubSpot CRM wasn’t as focused on the ‘CRM’ aspect. We also found that Sugar was simply not able to scale to our needs. While Zoho was nice and cute, we felt it wasn’t professional enough for our growth model.
After considering the options for a while, I became hesitant to move forward with any of them. My overwhelming thought was to stick with our homegrown solution and wait a bit longer before making any changes.
During the final decision meeting, my CIO strongly advocated for Salesforce. It was at that point I had an epiphany (which I will share shortly) about a potential company exit. As a result, we ultimately decided to give Salesforce a shot.
I found that one of the challenging things about Salesforce (compared with other CRMs) was the need to customize it to our unique business requirements. While, of course, it can be used right out of the box, the custom functionality required for our business wasn’t readily available.
It took a lot of time, consideration, and configuration to get our instance set up perfectly. In fact, it was almost a year after signing on to get the solution where we needed it to be, including migrating our data and training everyone on the new process. Although it was a struggle at first, as any newly implemented system would be – in the end, it helped us deliver on our expectations.
Salesforce to the Rescue
Our instance really helped us get the most out of our business. We were able to scale, measure, enhance, and improve with real data instead of relying on gut reactions or intuition.
With this new powerful tool at our disposal, Salesforce helped us:
- Streamline the entire sales process: We now had a unified platform to manage all aspects of sales, including lead generation, opportunity management, and order processing. This helped the company automate routine tasks and streamline all sales processes, making it easier to scale up as the business grew.
- Enhance our customer relationships with management: We finally had the ability to manage our customer relationships! It allowed the sales team to track customer interactions, manage customer accounts, and provide personalized experiences to our customers, which led to an increase in customer satisfaction and renewed loyalty.
- Improve data management: We were finally able to organize and manage our data more effectively. It enabled us to store customer and sales data in a single location, making it easier to access and analyze. We were then able to make data-driven decisions instead of relying on intuition alone. We were able to identify trends and optimize our operations accordingly.
- Improve collaboration (and stop the finger-pointing): Success was found with one platform for all collaboration between our front-end sales and back-office teams. Our sales, marketing, delivery, and customer service teams were able to work together seamlessly – sharing data and milestones, and communicating effectively using the same language. This completely broke down the silos and improved our overall productivity and delivery timeline to our customers.
- Scale with ease: Our instance was designed to be an extremely scalable platform, and it easily grew with us (granted, this required more customization work and increased cost). The flexible architecture allowed us to add new features and functionalities, such as provisioning systems and trouble ticketing modules.
- Improve our reporting and analytics: We were now armed with the capability for advanced reporting and analytics. This gave us the ability to gain deeper insights into each department and, ultimately, the overall business. Based on all of the new data, we were able to optimize our operations, improve our delivery performance, and achieve our growth goals by having real numbers and measurable metrics.
Did It Pay Off in the End?
Fast forward to our decision to sell the company. We had a feeling that the acquiring organization would likely use Salesforce for their own environment. This could eliminate any potential barriers during the due diligence process and make integrating and migrating much easier. When we eventually went through due diligence with IT during the acquisition, our predictions came true!
We were on the final due diligence call when the CIO of the acquiring company raised a concern about our CRM and whether they were willing to dedicate resources for the migration. However, when he learned that we used Salesforce, they quickly approved the acquisition. This eliminated any migration concerns and even resulted in a surprise jump in our valuation.
In the end, Salesforce proved to be worth its cost – not only by becoming its own return on investment, but also by enabling us to better manage the company, improve delivery timelines, service delivery, and increase productivity. It played a crucial role in the successful sale of our company.
Looking back, I’m glad my CIO fought to convince me to give it a chance. It just goes to show that sometimes the decisions we’re most hesitant about can end up being the best ones.