3 CRM Lessons from a SMB Salesforce Implementation
My first job was as a Salesforce Admin for an HR consulting startup. To increase our sales and marketing effectiveness and to encourage efficient knowledge management, we implemented Salesforce as our CRM. I was fortunate enough to get in at the ground level so to speak, just as Salesforce was being implemented. I had no idea that the implementation would change my life- but that’s a story for another time. Salesforce changed how I thought about CRM and customer facing tools.
What is Salesforce? Salesforce is a customer relationship management (CRM) product that allows you to effectively track your marketing, sales, and service offerings as they relate to your customer. On the most basic level, it is a sales force management system, allowing a company to make the sales process more efficient, from lead gen to creating opportunities. For a company willing to allocate resources to proper implementation and maintenance, it offers much more.
As I mentioned, I was fortunate enough to be join the team when we first implemented Salesforce. I was pretty hands-on my learning, and soon became pretty damn good with the platform. What started as creating documentation and offering training quickly became a full-fledged Administration job/ obsession. create the documentation for our implementation. I was been exposed to Salesforce in every way possible and have seen how much value it can add. I want to share three lessons I’ve learned during the process of implementation, documentation and administration. These tips are not Salesforce specific- they apply to any small business CRM implementation.
1) On-going training is a must: We’re constantly doing training on both the Sales and Training is important because this is where you get to update users on changes, but also get valuable feedback on the current processes in place. One of the mantras of modern tech start-ups is constant iteration: there must be constant feedback and improvement. I take this approach to our Saleforce. Training allows me to gauge how well current processes are working (including simple details such as page layouts), and to brainstorm potential changes that need to be made. It’s a powerful method to teach and learn at the same time.
2) Integration should be thorough: One of the reasons we’ve been able to implement Salesforce division-wide is because of an effective documentation framework created by our Salesforce Project Manager. I’m constantly altering documentation to reflect these changes, and to clarify information about existing processes. We’ve created documentation that doesn’t distinguish between our business processes and the role that Salesforce plays in these processes, which is the approach we’ve taken to Salesforce in general: we’ve weaved it into our day-to-day in a way that it can’t be separated from the functions it serves. It’s a means to end in many ways, but also an end in itself.
3) Your Admin should be a bridge: The person who serves as the Salesforce Administrator is most effective in a small business when they do work that touches on on every aspect of the business. As an Admin, I worked as a member of the Sales team, but I was actively involved in Marketing and supported the Consulting teams too. As a result, I could keep the needs of different roles in mind as I change features, to ensure that changes reflect big picture needs for the entire startup. In bigger companies, it makes sense to have an individual dedicated to Salesforce, and this person will be siloed in certain ways. In small companies, it makes sense to put someone in constant conversation with the different teams- so pick wisely!
The implementation of a CRM is an iterative process that depends on continuous feedback . We were able to integrate Salesforce into our daily processes, and it is used by every team. The lessons above are rooted in an intentionality in implementing Salesforce: the head of my division made Salesforce a priority from the beginning, communicated that to the team, and allocated the appropriate resources to ensuring that happens.
Please feel free to share your own experiences, thoughts and questions about Salesforce (especially if you work in a small biz!) in the comments!