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Salesforce: Investing in an OOTB Platform and Making It Work for Your Business

by Korey Berg
in on Mar 17, 2020

The sales process is more complicated than ever.

Customers are the single most important asset of every business. Regardless of how good their product is, a business can’t survive without customers. But, customer relationships have gotten more complex with the rise of digital technology. 

Today, companies with vast amounts of customer data, like Amazon and Google, are changing the nature of the company/client relationship. They’ve made the way people interact with clients much more personal, with the most successful companies possessing an intimate knowledge of their customers. 

This shift has impacted sales teams greatly. People expect a seamless experience and want their preferences to be remembered. If they interact with one sales rep one day and another one on a different day, customers want the new sales rep to pick up where they left off. This presents unique challenges for the sales team. 

  • How can sales make sure every interaction is recorded? 
  • How can sales make sure every sales rep has the same information? 
  • How can sales use customer data to make the sales process more personal?

These are just a few of the questions highly effective sales teams need to answer. Fortunately, along with the shift in customer relationships came CRM (customer relationship management) technology. How have CRMs helped sales teams keep up with changing customer expectations?

CRMs help sales create better customer relationships

“52% of high-performing salespeople indicated they were power users who take full advantage of their company’s CRM technology and internal systems” — Harvard Business Review

Customers have a major advantage over companies since they can find out most of what they want to know about a company from its marketing materials. For the company, things aren’t so simple. They must glean as much information as possible from each customer interaction in an effort to get to know them. It’s hard work and can easily be for nothing if it’s not properly organized.

CRM technology can help your sales team organize and centralize its customer data without hours of manual labor. This frees them up to do what they were hired for: to sell. CRMs not only improve initial customer interactions but also benefit the sales team during the entire customer journey and even after closing the sale. According to Salesforce, CRMs improve customer retention by as much as 27%. Attracting new customers takes a lot of work, and we don’t want to lose them. This means that we have to do everything in our power to give customers a stellar experience. 

Another way CRMs benefit your business is by assisting with conflict resolution. Due to the cloud-based nature of CRMs, all customer data, including issues customers have with the service or product, can be recorded. This gives your team an issue database to draw from. When talking to a customer about an issue, reps can then check to see how similar issues were resolved in the past, cutting down resolution time significantly. 

Setting up a CRM can provide your sales, customer service, and marketing teams with crucial data. But, the multitude of options can make choosing the right CRM a challenge. Let’s take a look at one of the most popular options, Salesforce, and learn how you can make it work for your organization. 

Enter Salesforce, the sales-focused CRM

Salesforce logo

 

Salesforce is a CRM that connects your customer data to all of your departments. From sales and marketing to IT, it helps your organization provide an omnichannel experience for your clients. This reduces the tediousness of collecting customer data over and over again and provides a seamless experience across channels.

Additionally, Salesforce is one of the biggest CRM providers, giving it a huge app ecosystem. The flexibility and scalability it provides makes it an ideal option for companies looking for something tuned to their needs. Which brings us to a big challenge when trying to get your sales team to adopt a CRM: Do you change the way people work or adapt the software to your team?

Making an out-of-the-box CRM work  

Poor user adoption is often at the top of the list when business owners talk about why their CRM failed. HBR found that CRM implementation failure rates were from 18% to 69%. Why so many failed implementations? The reasons vary from poor change communication to not choosing the right solution. One big reason is that companies will sometimes try and force their sales team to work within the CRM’s constraints, effectively asking employees to change the way that they work. 

Instead of changing the way a team works, leadership should make the solution conform to the team’s needs. That said, there will be some adjustments in embracing a digital solution. But, if companies can shape that solution to fit employee needs, they remove friction from the process and give their employees a tool instead of a nuisance. 

As we mentioned before, Salesforce is a highly customizable solution. Teams have the option of configuring the out-of-the-box (OOTB) product to their needs or taking it a step further by making coding changes. The right choice depends on your company’s needs. For example, how much automation do you need in your process? With customization, you’ll need the help of a Salesforce developer. How can you decide what’s right for you?

4 steps to help you decide if you need to customize your salesforce installation

  1. Start by understanding your team’s sales process. Is your team selling effectively? If so, you want to make your installation an enhancement tool and not a hindrance to your team’s efforts. Learn how the sales team works so that you can design an implementation that will help them sell more effectively by making customer information accessible. 
  2. Compare the steps in your sales process with Salesforce. This is the stage where you’ll identify gaps in the OOTB Salesforce experience and areas where you could help your team automate. This step will help you calculate the amount of development help your team will need. Some common reasons businesses need additional customization include the need for: 
    • Heavier automation 
    • A custom UX experience
    • More 3rd party integrations
    • Stringent security
    • Highly customized reporting
  1. Talk about your sales team’s wants. In the first step, you’ve no doubt learned what your team needs to keep doing their job. Now it’s time to learn about their sales wishlist. What capabilities do they wish they could have? This is a great way to build excitement and support for the implementation. 
  2. Talk with an expert. A CRM is a big investment, especially for a large sales team with a distributed workforce. It’s important to get it right the first time. An expert can consult with you on which features you’ll need a developer for and which you won’t. They’ll also help you come up with realistic timelines. 

Customizing Salesforce to fit your team’s needs is a great way to improve workflow and promote adoption. Another impactful way to get the best ROI from Salesforce is to invest in your employees. 

Turn your team into Salesforce power users

Company providing one-on-one Salesforce training. 

 

Think about the last time you tried to use a product that you didn’t understand. How long did you try to use it before giving up? The truth is that our patience for learning new software products is very low. And this includes the products we use for work, especially if we feel it’s being forced on us. 

Companies can counteract this natural tendency to resist the unfamiliar through strong training programs. Training improves almost every aspect of your employees’ job, from how much they enjoy their job to how long they will stay at your company. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn.

Longevity is a compelling reason to invest in employee training because it can cost tens of thousands of dollars to recruit new employees. Another strong motivator is employee effectiveness, which extends to your sales team. Training your team on how to use Salesforce can improve adoption rates, satisfaction, and the ROI you get from implementing this new tool. How can you train your employees effectively? Let’s look at 6 tips to help you conduct productive Salesforce training. 

  1. Know your people. Comprehensive training is great and even necessary from time to time, but it’s also costly. For a more targeted approach, talk with your employees and learn where they have knowledge gaps. Depending on your team size, managers might consider surveys or other efficient means for learning what employees think. 
  2. Encourage honesty. Learning where employees need help can be a challenge if they feel that sharing information could risk their job. Clearly communicate that the purpose of them sharing weaknesses is to design a better training program. Another method to reduce employee stress is to make the surveys anonymous.
  3. Choose the right trainers. In an effort to save company resources, you may think it’s a good idea to have internal staff perform the training. That’s completely fine as long as they’re actually experts. Skimping on the right trainer could end up costing you more if you have to redo ineffective training. 
  4. Your training format matters. Choosing the right format starts with understanding your team’s needs. Is your team mostly remote? Are they adept at learning new technologies? Have you provided any training in the past you can learn from? Questions like these will help you pick the right format for the most effective training. 
  5. Set realistic deadlines. Deadlines are crucial to making sure organizational initiatives are completed. But, you also need to be conscious of your employees’ time and schedules. Give your employees enough time to plan for the training, but don’t let so much time pass that they give up on the software before you conduct the training. 
  6. Incentivize employee participation. Avoid reasoning that employees should embrace training because it’s part of their job. Everyone wants their effort to be appreciated and providing incentives that your employees value is a great way to do that. 

Strong Salesforce training will help your employees embrace it as a tool instead of a roadblock to getting their job done. By tailoring your Salesforce installation and tailoring the training to your team’s unique needs, you’ll ensure it helps you reach your company’s objectives. But, getting to that point may require a little extra help. 

When to get expert Salesforce guidance

“An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.” – Niels Bohr

The Niels Bohr quote makes a compelling case for getting expert guidance for your Salesforce implementation. An expert has already faced challenges with Salesforce that you probably haven’t thought of yet. Instead of having to face challenges as they come up, hiring an expert gives you the ability to anticipate them. What are some of the common Salesforce implementation challenges?

  • You don’t know what a great CRM looks like
  • You’re switching over from another CRM
  • Your business processes don’t perfectly align with how Salesforce works
  • You need to prove its value to the board

Salesforce can improve your company’s customer relationships, but it’s not as simple as purchasing the software and diving in. To get the most value out of your investment, it’s crucial that you set it up in a way that aligns with your different departments’ goals. With every business possessing unique needs, a Salesforce expert can help you set it up for maximum benefit. 

At Coherent Solutions, we specialize in Salesforce app development, which gives our clients the ability to extend the platform past its core functionality. In addition, we can provide consulting on your Salesforce development needs as well as audit customizations for potential security risks. Whether you need mobile apps, web apps, or both, we’ve got you covered. Talk to one of our Salesforce experts today. 

Korey Berg

Korey Berg

Director of Marketing

Korey has over 10 years in digital marketing and IT experience with emphasis on Strategy, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Graphical content creation, and Web Development. Korey garnered his education from the University of Minnesota, Cornell University, and vast experience in the technology space since the 90’s.

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