Leveling Up

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Are you keeping your ideas flowing in the real world?

If the world was a static place, you could make your bed, set things in order and watch your money-making job or business simply cash flow without disruption.

However, we don’t live in Narnia. It’s not a place of bliss and perfection. Now that everyone is connected and able to make change, it forces your hand. Resting on your laurels becomes more risky than the better strategy of leveling up and continually innovating.

If you look at large corporations, their divisions are segmented based on natural business functions – operations, marketing, finance, accounting, sales, and research and development.

If you are a solopreneur or small business owner, you have the same functions by necessity. Research and development is where you level up. There has to be time, attention and money dedicated to the goal of continuous growth. It means being open to what is happening in your industry and even beyond.

You have to be open to new ideas and integrate them into your own model.

The threats to your current position have to be evaluated. Paradoxically, the way to reduce risk is to keep moving forward and leveling up.

If you are not testing new ideas and putting them in play with real customers, then how can you be surprised when someone else replaces your position and value in the market?

Here’s an idea. For a couple hours every week, block the time out in your calendar. Get away to a place where you can’t do your reactive work. Take a piece of paper and simply imagine. Open your mind up to new ideas you can test. The ideas can come from news, people, media, gossip, hobbies or whatever else crosses your path.

Merge the extraordinary. See if you can come up with a way to test something new over 30-60 days to see if customers will like and pay for your idea.

Just think of this as embedding research and development into your otherwise busy work weeks. In the process, you mitigate the risk which innovation relentlessly presents to threaten your position. Level up or become irrelevant.

What ideas can you level up on?

4 Salesforce Process Creation Tips

 

Your business is nothing more than a process.  After all, that is what a business is.  It is a sequence of repeatable, and sometimes custom steps which create a predictable result, either a product or service. Process is what we all use, but often times, it is difficult to capture and create the systems that make our processes work with ease.

The beauty of Salesforce.com is the ability to support how your business runs.  The steps involved for making a sale, creating attention, delivering value or supporting your customers can be created in a highly customized fashion.  No two Salesforce.com systems are alike out of the thousands of users because of the ability to customize around your specific way of doing business.

As you are working on creating process within Salesforce.com, here are four tips to help you make Salesforce.com work:

  1. Segment your business.  Break down your processes into discrete areas.  It can be daunting trying to tackle your entire process.  The smaller you can break down your internal processes, the more manageable it will be.  Ensure the process you focus on is complete in it steps and fulfillment to deliver a result.
  2. Think Tasks And Communications.  There are two outcomes for each step of a process – a task and a communication to a partner, customer or team member.  Ensure your steps capture both aspects and that you can set up Salesforce.com to support the desired outcome.
  3. Identify Automation Opportunities.  Certain steps can become repetitive and tedious.  Think how automation via triggers or custom programming might be able to accelerate the mundane processing your users would encounter.  Automation may mean an automatic task, contingent data fields populated or a triggered custom email.
  4. Develop Key Metrics.  To see if a process is working, you need to be able to monitor it in real-time.  Use custom dashboards and reports that will give you this feed-back to see the effectiveness and also allow for refinement of the process steps.  It is critical for achieving perfection in the process through iteration.

Salesforce.com does not run your business perfectly.  It is merely a tool which requires intelligent and deliberate customization to support the business processes you discover are successful.  Be sure to think like a designer and perfect like a refiner.  Use these tips to drive your organization or get some help setting up your business process.

What are some processes you would like to automate?

Salesforce Success Is Continuous

Salesforce.com Success depends heavily on the approach, leadership and mindset of the team adopting the system.  Having helped organizations become successful with Salesforce.com over thousands of hours of up front and personal work, it is obvious that those who succeed have a different mindset from those who get stuck or never get started.  It starts with an understanding of the kinds of systems which exist today:

  1. Convenient Systems: These work as is out of the box.  The software vendor prescribes the workflow and features by assimilating the best practices and requirements of the masses.  The benefit is that this system is ready to go and can guide you to execute quickly.  The downside is that it is hard to change it for your specific workflow.
  2. Customized Systems: You can pay for custom development to execute your business processes specifically.  This was typical of older approaches to support businesses.  The benefit is that the system works exactly for your business.  The downside is that it is expensive and changes take longer from inherent development cycles applied.  It’s important that you can articulate your requirements precisely.
  3. Continuous Systems: This is what makes Salesforce.com the predominant choice of thousands of businesses.  The system can continually be modified and implemented.  It is inexpensive to drive change.  This is strategic in an economy where the only sure thing is change.  Your requirements can be less rigid and more iterative.

In a continuous system, it is important to implement, launch and drive feedback.  Success depends on use and iteration.  Focusing on system perfection is elusive and unrealistic.  Perfect execution, however, is achievable once a framework and rules for engagement are set up.

Your team’s success relies on a commitment to the journey of continual refinement.  Ensure there is a process for iterating and that change is not merely piecemeal.  It must be systemic in thought and design to avoid overengineering your Salesforce.com system or exasperating your team in their use of the system.

Adopt a continuous mindset and the long view. As your business is never done being refined, your mission critical software enabling your business remains art in motion.

Want to learn how to become successful realistically over time? Click here for Salesforce Consulting help.

Salesforce Is Not The Savior

We all want success in our business.  More often than not, we see a focus on technology as a savior rather than what really matters to drive success.

Salesforce.com is an extremely powerful system which is largely misunderstood for its capabilities.  The namesake affects the branding and, thus, there is a misperception that it is for salespeople and sales processes.  It is much more.  It is a platform which can be customized to run your business operations.  Instead of programming custom software which is inflexible, you have a system which can bend with your changing business requirements.

Those that do realize this potential may be prone to another illusion.  They are technology happy and do not realize the components which truly make for success.  Salesforce success is much less about the subscription you pay every month and much more about leadership, strategy and talent.  Without these, you can never be successful with Salesforce.com in your business.  It is merely naked technology.  It is technology devoid of process which enables success.

Keep Your Eye On The Eight Ball

The truth is that there are many businesses with Salesforce.com that fail.  They bought hope.  They did not put in the hard work and commitment to making Salesforce.com truly work.  The blind spot comes in because there is a lack of clarity on what matters or they are playing to personalities within a bureaucracy.  It happens quite frequently, and unfortunately, as is common with human nature, it is difficult to admit error.

Salesforce.com Leadership

Who has the clear vision of how your business should run?  Do they create clarity or add complexity?  Strong leadership that makes the complex simple rather than simple things complex is of utmost importance.  Every bit of complexity and overengineering will affect the adoption and enthusiasm of your team.

Leadership starts with clear vision.  Someone who is building from the bottom up rather than the top down will lack the overarching vision to make Salesforce work.  They add any and every field, data object and feature because it is available.  This is poor leadership and jeopardizes success.

Salesforce.com Strategy

Your business is nothing more than a process.  This process needs to be simplified and clarified.  It needs to be mapped into Salesforce.com and presented simply for your team to execute their daily tasks.  Data which clarifies the key metrics for your business should be real-time, accessible and clear to know whether your business is executing at a high level or failing.

The strategy for how to design your Salesforce.com system is both art and science.  Ensure that your strategy is clearly defined.  It is a moving target as well.  You and your team will get clearer as you go along.  Thus, flexibility and an understanding of the moving parts is part of the journey.

Fahrvergnügen Drivers Wanted

Volkswagon used fahrvergnügen as a slogan and cleverly tagged, “Drivers Wanted” to the campaign.  The car was positioned as true enjoyment.  Worthy drivers who could enjoy the experience were needed.

Salesforce.com is technology that is Fahrvergnügen and needs drivers.  Talented users that can execute your process will lead you towards success.  If you have “C” players, then your quest may be quite elusive.  Salesforce.com does not run itself.  Talent that can work within a well-designed business process and framework make Salesforce.com work.

The Disillusion

There is a lot of focus on the promises of what Salesforce.com can do for your business.  The technology has been around for quite some time.  Thousands of users and companies are signed up.  In the trenches, the success factor is a mixed bag.  The hope and potential entice buyers.

However, without the leadership, strategy and talent to drive success, you will be hard pressed to achieve nirvana.  It is a smart system which requires hard work.  If you are leading, examine the results to see if you need to change strategy and get the right leadership involved.  At the end of the day, good technology is a commodity today.  Smart people that can navigate complexity make good technology produce business results.

How are you addressing what matters for Salesforce Success?

 

Salesforce And Legos

Salesforce.com is remarkable for building your business process because of the ability to customize and extend your requirements.  Kids experience this same effect in the LEGO universe.  They often start with a specific kit.  They soon realize that parts are interchangeable, and they are able to add other pieces or new kits to create their own customized work of art.  All of this occurs with an understanding that the pieces work together.

Likewise, Salesforce.com is a platform.  Your initial requirements will likely produce a preliminary business system which is usable.  However, as you become familiar with how the system works, you have the flexibility to add other pieces via the AppExchange, a marketplace of third-party applications developed by other software companies.  This affords you the opportunity to both discover and continue building without feeling limited by the initial pieces you start with.

 

Your Business Process Refinement Is Iterative

There are some amazing structures created by LEGO enthusiasts.  They were not created by someone figuring out exactly what to build with their first purchase of a new set of bricks.  The discovery of what could work and how pieces fit together was iterative.

Genius and clarity arise from the repetition of playing with the pieces.

You have flexibility in how to drive your business processes with Salesforce.com.  If you find that the approach your sales team engages with needs to be changed because the market does not respond, you can remove fields, add new ones and add applications as needed.  Perhaps an autodialer you implemented does not work for your business anymore.  Instead, you may want to integrate an inbound marketing strategy with marketing automation.  You can detach old technologies and plug in new ones, all the while retaining logged information in your data records for continuity. You may want some Salesforce consulting help on such projects for the technical expertise and insights.

The effect is that your system can continue to adapt to the change which is inevitable in your business.  You can build continually.  Salesforce.com is modular and able to be modified as your business model and clarity continues to change.  It is much like building with LEGOs.

What are some things you can anticipate adding to your core Salesforce.com system?


Salesforce Automation Steps

Buying Salesforce.com is easy; automating your business processes using Salesforce.com has a natural progression.  In our Salesforce consulting, we like to help our customers to walk their process manually before automating.  This allows for control and mastery before coding, scripting or creating a routine process structure.  Approaching your own organization with the goal of automating your business processes should have steps accounting for the impact of change on your team.  Here’s how.

Map Out Your Process Roadmap

The steps for how a customer is won, a service is provided or a project is completed needs to have an accounting for the specific steps your users will take.  These should be captured in a list and the tasks need to be broken down into concrete and specific wording.  Your team has likely built up a culture.  Your culture has defined meaning for each of the steps.

Thus, your process map should not take for granted the implied meaning of steps.  Rather, imagine using your map to instruct a new person.  They should be able to take direction and execute within your Salesforce.com system from the steps in a sequential fashion.

Customize Your Database With Ease Of Use

Less is better.  This is what we preach with our Salesforce consulting clients. This is especially true for data.  Every field that you create unnecessarily or redundantly reduces your chances for adoption by your team.  Think like a user.  You would have to move fast in daily work.  Every form field or step within Salesforce.com becomes tedious at some point if there is a feeling the data is not used or getting work done can be more expediently accomplished without data capture.

Each step in your roadmap should produce a subset of data capture within your Salesforce.com records – Contacts, Accounts, Leads, Opportunities, Cases or any other custom creation.

Picklists should be used if your data is specific and needs to be measured.  Furthermore, it is easier for the user because less thinking is involved.  Conditional picklists are valuable to present dormant fields which may be used in specific cases rather than every time a record is edited.  Think streamlined and less.  Your team will be grateful for it.

Buttons For Communications And Tasks

Every step touches some part of the customer experience.  Often times, your value perception is based on your touch points.  Using Salesforce.com to ready personalized communications to the right people at the right time increases your branding and builds continual value with the stakeholders of your business processes.

Communications will come from documents, emails or calls.  Ensure that each is ready to go and captured within the context of the steps of your roadmap.

Your team is likely doing these things, albeit inconsistently, inefficiently and without account.  Salesforce.com creates the opportunity to create a predictable and rich experience from the inherent functionality of the system.  Use it and watch opportunities grow.

Watch, Refine And Automate

With an agile system in Salesforce.com, the most important thing is not perfection on all the details.  The important thing is launching and getting your users to adopt the system.  Their feedback will allow you to continue refining.  Salesforce.com is not like custom developed software.  It is more flexible and made to be used in real-time.  When changes occur, you can react and redesign.

Watch your users and work with them to drive towards perfection.  The process is collaborative and working closely with your team drives their buy-in because their feedback is seen in the context of real-time changes.

As you see your processes mature, there is great opportunity to drive further efficiency.  Automate the steps by coding, triggers, workflows and refinements.  Each step is an opportunity for creative ways to cut out cycle times in your team’s execution in Salesforce.com.

Automation comes from process maturity and user adoption.  Drive towards it with effective change management and administering Salesforce.com at the pace your culture fails forward with your processes in Salesforce.com.

Iteration

There is no perfect marketing process.  But there is effective automated marketing.  Getting to perfect is a lost cause.  This would require the world to stand still and the fickleness of buyers to align with a formula.

Getting to effectiveness is a search for resonance.  It is achieved through continual iteration.  The secret to the new economy is about iteration.  Another phrase is to “fail forward fast.”  Creating the breadcrumb trail which nurtures and wins your buyers relies heavily on experience, intuition, analytics, art and science.  Our ability to decipher the digital footprint of exactly how people are moving through the buying process is a critical asset.

Thus, marketing and sales success ultimately will be found in the talent behind the system.  All the tools exist.  Using them in a way which gets a predictable and repeatable result, namely revenue, is what differentiates.

If you commit to iteration, you are committing to success.  Here is how to fail forward fast:

  • Design the decision tree thinking as the buyer
  • Look for conversion drop offs
  • Create logical next steps which engage
  • Measure and refine
  • Use sales engagement in a timely way
  • Hone in on scoring towards desired buying behaviors

We live in the age of speed.  Part of the luxury is having continuous, real-time feedback which we can leverage quickly into our buying systems.  If we are students, then we are ultimately masters of our marketing destiny.