After implementing Salesforce, what should happen next?
Many of our salesforce.com customers and prospective clients ask us to recommend which specific enhancements will take their CRM program to the next level. To find the right answer, our advice is simple: First step back and ask what you’re trying to achieve.
Regularly Re-tune CRM Programs
Ask what you’re trying to achieve on a regular basis–answers may change. Eight years ago, for example, we helped one of the largest life insurance companies in the United States implement Siebel CRM. Now, the company’s executives are eager to move their CRM operations to the cloud, and plan to use Salesforce. When we recently met with them, however, our first project recommendation wasn’t to implement the software, but to step back and ask: What are the top business goals to be achieved by using the new CRM system?
For the insurer, answering that question was especially important given the elapsed time since it had implemented Siebel. Employees come and go, markets shift and businesses change, so your business goals must evolve too. Accordingly, the most successful CRM projects begin by defining your current business goals, then working backwards to ensure that your technology has been selected and configured to best deliver the required business results.
With that in mind, here are eight of our top techniques for tuning up or advancing any Salesforce program:
Start fast: Many businesses take an out-of-the-box (OOTB) approach to Salesforce. While that might sound funny for a cloud-based system, it means implementing the platform with few, if any, customizations. In fact, that’s a great approach, because when you first put Salesforce in place, most users can’t imagine how it will work. Accordingly, why not implement basic SFA processes–accounts, contacts, opportunities–before tackling more advanced possibilities?
Focus on user adoption: Some projects requiring later “optimization” simply got off to a shaky start. For example, Cloud Sherpas helped A&N Media put new change management processes in place, which immediately boosted user adoption of Salesforce from 18% to 86%. The secret was that instead of treating Salesforce as a technology project, A&N sold the software to employees by showing how they’d benefit.
Pursue CPQ: One project offering a big potential payoff is a “configure, price, quote” (CPQ) program, which enables salespeople to easily assemble the right–as in, accurate and attractive–configuration of products for a customer or prospect from within the SFA application. Thanks to having put a new CPQ program in place, one of Cloud Sherpas’ larger manufacturing customers estimates that it will dramatically reduce incorrect product configurations and subsequent returns, saving two points of gross margin.
Integrate for speed: As the CPQ example highlights, some of the returns come from tying systems together. These integrations don’t have to be expensive–or in real time–to save your employees time and boost productivity. Here are some top candidates for integration with your CRM system: ERP and financial systems (maintain pristine master customer data), product databases (generate quotes more quickly), marketing automation tools (run better campaigns), shipping services and credit card processing (speed sales and product fulfillment) and social networks (for branding and communication).
Promote healthy competition: Great sales teams thrive on winning, and successful sales managers tap that psychological fact. That’s why one of our large business customers used gamification, which entails rewarding salespeople when they perform a desired CRM behavior. Salespeople earned points by scheduling customer meetings using Salesforce and tracked their efforts on company-wide leader boards. Unsurprisingly, the company has seen widespread CRM adoption and plans to extend what it’s learned to promote optimum selling activities.
Highlight top customers: Which of your accounts are the most important? One of the key results achieved by Panasonic’s CRM project, in support of a revamp of its European B2B divisions, was giving salespeople and customer service personnel a clear view of the company’s best customers, including all products they owned and service contracts they held. That information enabled the company’s salespeople to sell more efficiently, and it created new up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.
Automate marketing: Use lead scoring, lead nurturing, analytics, campaign workflow and other automated marketing processes to better collect, refine and deliver high-quality leads to your salespeople. Closing the loop between sales and marketing helps marketing target the right prospects, enabling salespeople to spend their time pursuing only the most highly qualified leads.
Decipher sales data: One of Cloud Sherpas’ customers, a large bank, had amassed mountains of operational sales program data and wanted to know how it could design better products and services to cross-sell and up-sell its existing client base. In the old days, the firm might have looked to a data warehouse, but for its Salesforce project the firm opted instead for a cloud-based analytics service. Beyond helping the bank develop profitable new services, cloud analytics enable the bank to monitor its overall sales program gains by comparing the current sales pipeline with the sales pipeline from any time in the past.
Short, Quick Projects Maximize Returns
The above is a shortlist of some of the most high-value Salesforce optimization projects that our customers have been pursuing lately. But whether you’re implementing sales force automation (SFA) for the first time, adding marketing automation or pursuing any other CRM-related endeavor, don’t forget our CRM implementation philosophy: the best results come from pursuing short, rapid projects, with each designed to achieve a specific business improvement. So when optimizing Salesforce, do so rapidly, then get on with business.