So you're getting ready to implement Salesforce, or maybe you're in the process of getting it set up. Either way, your thoughts are most likely centered around one idea: making this expensive Salesforce thing work. Salesforce is awesome, and is likely to be one of the best things your company will do for itself in the long run, but one thing that it's not, is cheap. It's a significant investment, so you want to make sure that investment is worthwhile, and try to keep costs down where you can.
But it turns out that this is not necessarily best practice. There's a wide world of Salesforce out there, much larger than you may realize.
In baseball, both teams start off each inning with no runners on base, no matter what happened in the previous inning. If each inning started with the runners back on their bases, it'd be a very different game. If one team could do this and the other could not, it would put that team at a huge advantage throughout the game.
What if you could have a huge advantage like that for your Salesforce org?
What if you could start your company's Salesforce life in a position of power, ahead of the game and ahead of the curve? What kind of benefits would you see? With the right tools, how much more would you end up saving? That's worth more of an initial investment, wouldn't you say?
You may be skeptical; that's to be expected any time someone tells you that spending more money is a good thing. So let's take a look at some of the greatest indicators of Salesforce implementation success, and how the concept of a "bases loaded start" can help you meet that fabled 70% average ROI from Salesforce... or even exceed it.
The Adoption Investment
Every employee, every user has their own motivations. They will do what they can to achieve their goals, and if they feel a new data system gets in their way or makes their life miserable, they will not use it.
All that money spent amounts to nothing if none of your employees are using the tool. This is why usage of the system is considered by Salesforce and the larger Salesforce community to be a major KPI for success of new Salesforce implementations. So how can additional tools increase your Salesforce adoption?
Unfortunately, this is the place where a new Salesforce implementation often gets tripped up. I used the words "data system" earlier, but problems start to grow when Salesforce is thought of as just a place to put data, like a glorified Rolodex. Salesforce is a customizable workhorse, so train that horse to not kick the user, and instead to work with them. The process of using Salesforce should be simple, comprehensive, and even enjoyable. Achieve this and your adoption will skyrocket.
Salesforce inherently accomplishes much of this, but there are always going to be some gaps in any given CRM functionality, even a CRM as robust as Salesforce. Maybe it handles tasking in a way that isn't conducive to your business' culture or processes. Maybe it requires too much clicking around or repetitive data entry. These are both examples that I have personally witnessed in organizations that I have worked with, and they have been costly to adoption, resulting in entire departments having adoption issues. They leave users feeling "kicked".
Gaps such as these, and many more besides, can spell disaster for a new Salesforce implementation. If there is an App that can fill one of these gaps, it's going to be well worth it.
Time is Money
It's not just adoption that can be affected by Salesforce's gifts and gaps. Another key factor is how quickly you can get your Salesforce up and running, and once it's going, how quickly your employees can get things done in it. After all, efficiency is key to getting the maximum value out of any work tool, and this especially applies to Salesforce.
First, let's talk about getting your Salesforce setup off the ground. Conventional wisdom dictates that the less you have to set up, the quicker the whole process will be completed. However, don't let this trap fool you! If what you're setting up in the end isn't your whole process, all you've baked is a half-done cookie, and no one likes undercooked baked goods.
Many of the Apps for Salesforce on the AppExchange offer proven solutions, and though they may take some additional time to set up, it will still take less time and money than attempting to build the solution yourself later. In the end, why spend time developing a solution when someone else has done the work for you, allowing you to focus time and resources elsewhere?
Another common concern is the amount of change that comes with Salesforce. After all, if you're making large changes for your employees all at once by implementing Salesforce in the first place, why make more changes by adding additional tools and add-ons? Surely they can just be purchased later, when the need is truly there, right?
This is another trap! First, keep in mind that, to your employees, it's ALL change at this point, so they are unlikely to recognize an additional tool as further complexity.
The most important thing to consider, however, is the myriad ways in which delaying will cost your company.
- Training costs and time impact will be nearly doubled as you not only have to train your employees on Salesforce at launch, but also on the additional tools once they are released.
- The more time you spend without proper tools to ensure proper process, the more time and money you'll spend down the line cleaning up bad data generated or filling in legacy data missed in the interim. Studies have shown that bad data costs US companies $611 billion a year, and individual businesses lose an average of $10 million a year. The longer you leave your bad data in place, the higher the accumulated cost.
- Having Apps installed that improve employee speed and consumption of data improves overall efficiency, reducing costs in staffing and increasing your company's agility and ability to respond to customers and trends. Conversely, not having such Apps can result in slow response time and additional work resources needed.
Data Accuracy = Data Visibility = Reporting
This one isn't so much a KPI as it is a key element to success itself. If you don't have a good way to view your data, and if your data is not accurate, you cannot possibly know how much success you are having.
One can have all the reports and visuals that are needed, but the validity of the data is key. It's easy to assume that all users will respect the new Salesforce org and will make sure that the data goes in as ordered, but unfortunately, this is another trap!
Are all of your key data fields filled in through automation? Can users edit all of the fields they need in a given process from one screen? Do they have guided wizards that walk them through their processes step by step?
If you answered "no" to any of these questions, chances are that at some point, something important will be forgotten. Now imagine every user going through the same motions all day, every day. This is the reality of the situation: the sheer volume of changes that need to be made in the system each and every day means that every point of human interaction doubles as a potential point of failure.
So what can be done to mitigate this problem? Salesforce has great potential for automation, but it cannot solve for every potential business need out of the box. Your admins will quickly realize that though there is a lot of power in Salesforce, there are a large number of things that it cannot do natively. Again, there are gaps, and sometimes the best way to fill those gaps is with Apps.
There are apps that can do automatic calculations which Salesforce cannot natively provide. There are apps that can provide guidance to the users as they work through their processes. There are apps that can do unique types of reports or views, so that you, as a leader, can properly get an accurate view of what's going on with your company and its data. By filling these gaps, you are helping to ensure that everything is as it should be.
Getting Your Salesforce ROI Up
Finally, we have the Salesforce ROI itself to address. Salesforce advertises that on average, its customers see a return on investment of 70% from their Salesforce implementations. That's a pretty impressive figure in the tech world. So how do we improve upon that already impressive number?
Well, I've got one more number to throw at you: 1000%. IBM has found in its research that for every dollar invested on UX, the return is generally between $10 and $100. This figure is so widely accepted that it has become the common rule of thumb for usability ROI. That's anywhere between 1000% and 10,000% ROI.
This may seem incredibly high, but it makes sense when you look at the simplicity of the concept itself. When you make your interface easier to use, easier to understand, and more accurate, EVERYTHING along the way becomes simpler at every point, saving time and money exponentially as time goes on. It's one thing to correct a complexity in the system, but if that complexity occurs early enough in your business' process, how many things will be affected down the road? When you clean up the problem from the beginning, how many data points, how many employees, how much work is affected?
This alone is enough to start your new org with the bases loaded. This alone is enough to start your company's Salesforce tenure in a better place, and give you the jump-start you need to save money, have happier employees, and stay ahead of the competition.