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How to Prepare for a Salesforce Implementation

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How to prepare for a Salesforce implementationI’ve delivered Salesforce to the masses in a few different ways. The unsuccessful ones have stumbled out of the gate, and the successful ones were skillfully executed.

Whether you are planning a 5 seat Salesforce implementation or a 5,000 seat implementation here are the 5 things you need to prepare for a successful Salesforce implementation.

1. Communication is King

If you are transitioning from an existing CRM or implementing a CRM for the first time- Communication is your friend. Users will want to know what is going on, when training is happening, how this will effect their day-to-day tasks, etc. In this case, clarity and transparency help ease the transition, help set expectations and remove any ambiquity. Humans are very much a creature of habit- which is why changing jobs is so stressful. Adding a new process, system, or method is a lot like a mini-job change. In the early stages there is no such thing as too much communication.

2. Training is Queen

The first day I started using Salesforce I was told- “Here is your login, in the upper right hand corner is a ‘help’ link if you need it. Now go figure it out.” I wouldn’t suggest that approach for your users. Remember all that communication you did before the roll out? Now it’s time to train. Training, in this case, is explaining how to use the system in terms of their day-to-day process. People don’t show up to work and try to fail, training gives them the foundation they need to show up to work and succeed. People want to succeed. Plan a robust initial training for each department, then follow up in a few months with refresher training.

3. Process is essential

In the previous point I mentioned training, part of training is simply how to use the tool. The other part is how that tool is woven into the existing process. Remember that a CRM isn’t about having ‘another thing to do’, but rather giving your people the tool that helps them do their job better. Be sure to include how the tool will be used to support existing processes in your training.

Process is also two-fold. You need to have a process for how you will roll out your CRM to the company (I would plan on including this in your communications). Knowing which departments to onboard and in what order will lead to a successful implementation. Onboarding support before Sales could lead to gaps, plan to onboard departments as data flows through the company- which could mean a couple departments at a time. Having (and communicating) a plan will lead to user buy-in and increased adoption because they know the roadmap and what to expect.

4. Know your data

Out of the box Salesforce will probably have a few fields that you don’t use, and a few that you may need to create. But that’s ok. What’s not ok is coming out of the box with fields that users don’t know how to populate. I kid you not when I tell you that I’ve seen call notes in the phone field. Yup, that actually happened. So first off, your job is to know which fields will be populated- or that you can pre-populate with information from your existing system. Then remove fields that could cause confusion. Now that doesn’t mean you need to intimately know every line of data on a million row record, but get familiar with it. Look for ways you can clean it up before importing and be sure to add some validation rules to keep your users on the path to good reporting.

5. Support will save you

Ok, your users have been communicated to, trained, and you cleaned the data- so I bet you are thinking your job is done. Nope, it’s just getting started. Knowing how to support your users is the final step in the process. Outside of the help and support articles, where do your users go when they have questions? Having a support plan will help with adoption and they will feel less like Tom Hanks in Castaway.

What does Support look like? Glad you asked. First step is to communicate your support plan and who users should call/contact first. I like to setup a Chatter support group for users to post their questions. Not only does this give other users visability into issues (which prevents you from having to answer them twice) but lets others chime in with their expertise. So if it’s a process question a manager can answer it, but if it’s a Salesforce question you can answer it. Setting up an internal Salesforce ticketing system is also another great way to manage both your time and the requests coming in.

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