Salesforce And Change Management

Salesforce.com has the power to run much of your business operations.  It can be continually customized, integrated and programmed to automate steps in your various business processes.

As long as your requirements are clear and feasible, the work of customizing your system can be accomplished in a relatively straight forward manner.  Aligning your organization to using Salesforce.com becomes the harder challenge as many companies realize.  It is the art of change management.

Change Management

Salesforce.com is a team system.  The information that is captured and accessible for work to get done becomes useful in the context of a process.  Getting software or machines to execute process is easy.  Those can be programmed.  People have habits, agendas, biases and emotion.  If you are seeking to get your team to operate on the same page to increase sales, customer loyalty or brand awareness, these require daily execution and consistent decisions.

When we deal with change management in our Salesforce.com consulting, we adhere to some time-tested practices:

  • Identify a strong internal champion.  This is a person who has influence and can clarify vision across the organization.  It is critical to have someone that is persistent, charismatic and process-oriented.
  • Build a roadmap.  Your Salesforce.com roadmap should inform your company what the blueprint for success looks like.  It needs to take into account what the customer experience should be like, how your people work, the various systems required to get the job done and a vision for the future.
  • Create a parking lot.  This is an area where future requirements can be easily captured.  The most important part of using Salesforce.com is starting.  Getting your team to use the system and minimizing the number of features increases adoption success.  Your team needs a place to park their other nice-to-have, but not essential, requirements.
  • Deliver timely training.  Training your team is ongoing.  One session is not going to get it done.  People need to absorb knowledge, try it out and then own it themselves.  These cycles should be short and repetitive to motivate your team towards the goal of working your processes.
  • Lead with metrics.  What gets measured gets done.  Use real-time reporting to measure specific areas of your business processes.  At the beginning, it may be more about effort than results to reinforce behaviors.  When you are comfortable with metrics that are being consistently achieved, then move on to a bigger goal to frame the work getting done.  Create strong rewards and incentives which help your team focus on what is important.
  • Make culture happen.  New team members will likely be a part of your business story.  They will adopt your process and systems because of your culture.  It is positive peer pressure which helps everyone know what the standards for success are.  Be intentional and lead in this area to create strong momentum.

Change is difficult because it is work for each individual.  The work can be wearisome.  However, with strong leadership and management around the goals you have for your organization, Salesforce success is achievable. If you need help get Salesforce consulting. The help in the process will pay large dividends.

How can you use these practices to help your organization achieve higher levels of Salesforce success?

4 Salesforce Lead Rating Process Tips

Managing inbound leads in Salesforce.com requires a system and process for qualifying prospects.  If you are engaged in team selling, then coordinating data within the Lead record will become a priority.  The goal of a Lead is to be converted into an Opportunity which is tracked as a viable part of the sales pipeline and forecasting.

There may be a person or a team which manages Leads before they become Opportunities.  It could be separate from Account Managers or senior sales team members that work with qualified prospects towards a business deal.  Within your process, be sure to have a clear flow to how Leads are tracked and followed.

Here are 4 Salesforce.com process tips from we have used as Salesforce.com consultants to increase lead flow:

  1. Create meaningful ratings.  The native picklist values are “Hot, Warm and Cold.”  These are likely derivative values and can be easily misconstrued.  A good practice is to work with your team to understand how a Lead moves through their buying decisions.  Find out what the stages that have meaning to your organization are.  Ratings like “Ready,” “Education,” and “Nurtured” are more descript.  Your team has a common language.  Capture it and customize your Salesforce.com system to reflect what is natural and cultural.
  2. Monitor Dashboard information.  If you have a large number of leads over time, ensure you are using a set of Dashboard Reports to monitor the distribution and performance of your team.  This will help you to effectively manage your process and people towards higher levels of success through continual optimization.
  3. Integrate marketing automation.  Marketing automation nurtures your Leads and works with your Salesforce.com system.  Integrate a system which can help to drive your Lead Ratings or provide activity information of your buyers that are happening online.  The information can then be used to update the Lead Ratings or a Lead Score.
  4. Create triggers.  If you are on Salesforce.com Enterprise Edition then you can use Triggers and Workflows to create intelligence from this field to automate next tasks or email communications.  Thus, if a Lead is rated as ready by you or automation built into your Salesforce.com system, you can create a task for a specific salesperson on your team for immediate follow-up.  Timing is critical in our fast-moving economy.  Thus, this would help you engage with speed and precision for a competitive advantage when your Leads are attentive.

Salesforce.com Lead Ratings should be carefully used for a thorough qualification process.  With careful strategy, design and execution, this is a valuable metric within your Lead process for converting more Leads.

What are some ways you are qualifying leads in Salesforce.com?

4 Salesforce.com Email Template Strategies

Salesforce.com email templates are an important tool to integrate in your sales and service processes.  Your team will connect with prospects and customers with their phones or on email, both inbound and outbound.  For phone conversations, these are logged as calls and appear in the Lead or Contact’s Activity History.

In the case of sending emails, these can be sent from your email client such as Outlook or Gmail.  Adding the inbound and outbound emails from these programs uses the integration functionality of Salesforce.com or the Email-to-Salesforce.com feature.  This records both inbound and outbound emails in the respective Salesforce records.

HTML email templates are predesigned and stored in your system.  They help to increase productivity by providing a framework for sales and service engagement as well as ready-built content for your team.

In our Salesforce.com consulting work, we help to design the use cases for email templates.  Here are 4 strategies to help you in your implementation and adoption:

  1. Design a process.  There should be a sequence of steps for your sales team to follow.  Lay out the process and identify the key steps.  Within these steps, identify where communication with customers or partners need to happen and create the relevant content within your email templates.  Ensure your folder structures and sequencing are set up for easy access by your users.
  2. Personalize the content.  Seek to provide a professional and personal tone in each email template.  This is part of your overall branding as you service your prospect or customer.  Use merge fields with the right formality or casualness that the communication warrants.
  3. Provide concrete next steps.  Each of your communication pieces have a specific purpose.  For those that require action, spell out what is expected.  Use numbers or bullets to let the recipient know what you are seeking such as “Fill out this form” or “Purchase your product” and use hyperlinks for specific landing pages.
  4. Monitor and follow up.  Set up dashboards which help your team assess in real-time when email templates have been opened.  This will allow your sales team to send follow-up emails or make a phone call.  Open emails can even act as a call list for a specific day.  Your recipient will have your brand as top of mind.  This allows for a relevant conversation.

These are a few strategies for the powerful feature set you have with Salesforce.com email templates.  If you design your templates to support your processes, then they will be a valuable part of an ongoing sales and support funnel and it will allow for control and value in the way you engage customers.
What do you think?

Salesforce.com Sales Team Alignment

Salespeople by nature are highly individualistic and tactical.  Implementing Salesforce.com can become difficult without buy-in from your team into a system.  After all, that is what this CRM system is about.  It is a system for selling which transcends the individual, though it ultimately benefits the individual salesperson.

What Salespeople Want

Salespeople do not want a CRM system as an end in itself.  However, they will use it if it helps them:

  • Close more deals
  • Be more productive
  • Track their progress
  • Get more sales meetings
  • Help them remember
  • Have freedom

These are the reasons your sales team will use your custom system.  Often when launching, you may experience resistance because they cannot see the connection between this software and what they want.  Managers want something different.

What Managers Want

Managers are bought in because it helps them with the things that help them do their job.  Salesforce.com helps them to:

It is a different set of interests.  Salesforce.com is the ultimate management tool with regards to the things managers want.

There is a disconnect for what appeals to managers and salespeople.  Aligning sales requires a focus and leadership around the things that salespeople care about.  Otherwise, adoption can be hindered from a lack of enthusiasm and usage.

Salesforce.com Is Only Good If…

Salesforce.com is only as good as the data that is put into it and the timing of the data.  Zig Ziglar stated, ““You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want”  In the case of getting what you want – sales adoption – help your sales team get what they want by ensuring the customization of your systems and process are clear, simple and useful.

Build the system as you go.  Avoid developing in a silo.  Salesforce.com is a platform that can be changed ongoing in real-time as your sales team uses it.

Leadership is also required.  All requirements are not necessarily good requirements.  There needs to be a guiding framework and roadmap to keep things simple in design and effective.  Mindlessly adding new fields as you go can encumber adoption as well.

The challenge is creating a system which is desirable to use and adds value to your salespeople.  Great design will do much in the way of helping managers get the information they are seeking.  They can trust Salesforce.com for making decisions and plans.

We have seen our share of sales organizations work through alignment.  If you see a lack of alignment and adoption, then focus on the usability and design of your system before driving a top-down management mandate.  It will serve you well.

How well is your sales team aligned?

 

4 Salesforce Implementation Obstacles

Our Salesforce.com consulting clients vary in how they do business and with this comes implementation successes and obstacles in our many stories.  Though Salesforce.com is a system which can automate many processes, many things have to come together to make it successful in your business.

From our vantage point we have seen some obstacles to implementation that are worth noting as you are seeking to grow your business.  Consider the following:

1. Lack Of Salesforce.com Design

You can build your system field by field and keep throwing requirements together as you go along.  You may end up putting pieces on the board for the puzzle at the expense of truly building a complete picture.

Your Salesforce.com system should have an overarching strategy supported by its design.  The interdependencies of your system will reveal poor design over time.  Furthermore, as you add more complexity, you create more work for your team.  Now there are more fields that need to be filled out for every interaction.  The details should be considered for their merit and the design should reflect an integrated approach with the simplest path possible.  Good design does this.  There is such a thing as overengineering and creating a lack of adoption from a lack of motivation.

2. Loss Of Momentum

Launching Salesforce.com is a rigorous push towards a goal.  There is a lot of hard work to make it work in your organization.  When there are stop and go type of activities, then enthusiasm can wane and requirements can get lost quickly.  Momentum is critical for implementation.  Salesforce.com is as much a people and organizational management issue as it is technology which should bend to your processes.

Avoid momentum loss by being responsive to generating and delivering requirements.  Within the scope of work to make Salesforce.com work, it is important to keep accountability with everyone involved.  Anyone that does not do their part of customization, development, testing, validation and training can bottleneck the entire implementation process.

3. Fear Of Failure

Salesforce.com started a revolution.  Now instead of the old days of having to be perfect in our requirements, we can be flexible and fail quickly.  The reason is that Salesforce.com affords iteration quickly.  It is less about perfect software coding and more about clear business process thinking.  If you are unclear on your thinking, this shows up.  However, that is ok.  You can change things quickly.

It is amazing how many people are still focused on perfection.  It is costly in this age of speed.  It is better to put things into play and get feedback quickly.  You can change them in Salesforce.com to get to perfection after your plans meet reality.

A great way to do this is to launch and watch how users are working in the system within your process.  If they tend to not use features, have a different way of doing things or complain about how things work, then changing Salesforce.com with high responsiveness can bring delight, buy-in and eventual perfection.  Using Salesforce.com is the key issue.  Your users and your customers will help you shape it.  Having a talented implementation team will help you get perfect over time.

4. Complex Not Simple

Salesforce.com solves many problems.  If you presume one solution that is more complex than another, then you have embedded those options into your business.  For example, if you choose a route of custom developing a document merging system rather than using Conga Composer, then your team has to live with the results.  The choice is less than optimal.

Obstacles in a lack of sound advice or knowledge can take you down a pathway which is not only inefficient but cumbersome and a deterrent to adoption.

Simple means there is awareness of options and elegance in the design approach.  Instead of 4 fields, you opt for one that makes sense and gets to the goal.  If there are endless data trails you will never look at then the work over time of your users is for naught if there is not analysis and action behind their efforts.  Think simple.  There is likely a solution already built which integrates that can be easily plugged in or pulled if it doesn’t work.

Push Through The Obstacles

Salesforce success is not an elusive goal.  It is an obstacle which needs to be pushed through with determination, leadership and change management.  If you have weak leadership and management then the obstacles will be daunting.  However, if you are clear on the goal and collaborative then you can push through the various obstacles which inevitably come up when dealing with people, process and systems.

Think about thes 4 key obstacles and commit to leading through the changes in order to make Salesforce.com work in your organization.

What obstacles are you facing?

 

Salesforce Opportunity Contact Roles

Salesforce.com Opportunity records constitute the building blocks of your sales pipeline and forecasting.  Each deal past, present and future should contain all the relevant information for a first sales opportunity or an upsell opportunity.  Accounts can and should have multiple opportunities associated with it based on each and every deal your team is able to work with prospects and customers.

As the deal moves through its stages, more details are captured including:

  • Customized fields
  • Activity History
  • Open Activities
  • Documents
  • Related Objects
One of the areas which are important to help coordinate team selling is mapping the Opportunity based on Contact Roles.  These are the people in the Account as well as any relevant partners to the deal.  The Opportunity ties together the details of what makes the deal work and how to proceed to win the Opportunity as well as service the customer.
In the Contact Roles section, be sure to use this as part of your Salesforce.com strategy to manage individual Opportunities.  This requires setting up the Contact Roles in your Salesforce.com customization.  Your industry will have its own set of .  Here are some which are relevant:
  • Decision Maker
  • Influencer
  • Partner
  • Legal Counsel
  • Spouse
  • Executive Sponsor
  • Technical Resource
The types of Contact Roles will vary widely.  You can start with an initial setup and expand these as your Opportunities involve more types of people.  The key concept is to capture the types of functions involved with an Opportunity record.  This enables you to see the people that are involved.
After the jobs have been identified, be sure to select the Primary Contact within the list of Contact Roles.  This will help identify who the main person in the engagement for anyone on your team.  Each deal for an Account may have different Primary Contacts depending on what the deal is and which department or focus you are engaging.
Opportunities are focused on a goal – closing and winning a sale.  Knowing the layout of the people involved helps to orient you quickly as well as drive focus on the respective communications and actions necessary to drive the Opportunity.  Taking a quick look at the Contact Roles in an Opportunity record can help keep the relevant sales activities in your sales process top of mind as the names and relationships prompt effective next steps.
How are you using Contact Roles to help close sales?
Need help setting up your sales process? Get Salesforce consulting help.

Salesforce Lead Qualification

If your sales process depends on qualifying leads, then using Lead records to manage a Lead pipeline would be strategic for ensuring a continuous pipeline.  Ensuring a management process for your Lead management will ensure that your sales team is spending their time on high probability sales.

However, if your process is not contingent on a large flow of inbound marketing prospects, then you may want to structure your Salesforce.com system to capture Opportunities immediately to work.  This would be the case for a situation where there is a long sales cycle, few prospects and a high dollar transaction.

Let’s take a look at the opposite situation: short sales cycles, many prospects and lower dollar transactions.

Salesforce.com Lead Management

If you sell something like software subscriptions, online training modules or a digital product, you can easily generate prospects from a trial offer or giving something of value first.  Your site visitors would exchange contact information for your value offering.  Ideally, you might have a marketing automation system to help further nurture and qualify the best prospects.  In conjunction with this system, the tracking of prospects would be primarily around the Lead Status picklist field in Salesforce.com.

The values in the Lead Status field should be set up much like Opportunity Stages.  You might have a sales qualification team that works with pre-qualified Leads.  Their job is as follows:

  1. Follow up on Leads that have not been contacted.
  2. Assess their buying criteria based on specific qualification criteria:
    1. Their budget
    2. Their authority
    3. Their need
    4. Their timeframe
  3. Assign the Lead Status based on the qualification criteria scorecard
  4. Set the next step:
    1. A follow-up Activity date
    2. Lead Unqualified status
    3. Convert the Lead to an Opportunity for senior sales members

Your sales process depends on clear definition of the Lead qualification criteria and management by your team.  A marketing automation system can set the Lead Status criteria and trigger Tasks for your pre-qualification team when the prospect is ready to be contacted as well.

As each of the Lead Status values are set, a report a filtered view of all Active Leads should be generated to monitor real-time information of the Lead pipeline.  This gives you effective management control of your front end sales process.

Team selling becomes much more effective with a qualification process that is managed well in Salesforce.com.  The process and strategy for driving this result pays large dividends as you segment your inbound marketing leads and focus them specifically for the ensuing sales conversation.

Having the right strategy and approach to your Salesforce system will increase your opportunities for success. Everyone’s sales process will be different and you can get help designing yours effectively with Salesforce consulting help.

How do you manage your lead qualification?

5 Salesforce.com Process Mapping Tips

Your Salesforce.com system is only as good as your business processes.  If your processes are not well-defined or controlled, then you will only have a giant database, not a system.  There will not be the thrust you were hoping for to power your various parts of your organization.

Process mapping is both strategy and planning.  It is a way to organize how your people and your customers should behave.  Then it is making Salesforce.com do the hard work of powering those described and prescribed processes.

In our Salesforce.com consulting, we work hard on process first and foremost.  Here are some of the things necessary for Salesforce success:

  1. Capture Action Steps. The specific action steps need to be identified within a process.  These become the respective tasks within Salesforce.com that get tracked for completion and setting next steps.
  2. Identify Roles.  People will come and go.  Roles will remain.  Some people play multiple roles.  Process is focused on the specific roles – who does what and when.  Salesforce.com process mapping helps your team to know what the delineations of responsibility look like when your offense is running in full force.
  3. Segment By Stages. Whether you are managing a pipeline of sales leads or a queue of support cases, there is a process these move through.  The stages which constitute progress need to be articulated.
  4. Key Metrics and Reporting. Effective management means having a dashboard of reports of the progress of your processes being executed by your team.  This gives control which is important for driving execution.  A process without measurement is just good intentions.  Active management and engagement comes from knowing what is happening in real-time.
  5. Training And Documentation. Your team is aligned when they do the steps in cadence with your process.  Your leadership via training and documentation needs to be captured and distributed.  As new feedback is attained, you must update in real-time and have ongoing resources to help your team know what to do.

The art of process mapping helps to introduce efficiencies into your business that create levels of automation and predictability.  It is what helps to brand your business and build trust with customers.

Salesforce.com can run various parts of your operations beyond sales.  The integration of your overall processes needs to be first mapped and then translated into customizations of your system to bend to your process ideals.

What does your process look like?

Smart Salesforce.com Lead Assignment

Inbound Salesforce.com leads are the lifeblood of your sales process.  How prospects get assigned in Salesforce.com depends on a few factors such as:

  • Your sales team roles.  Is your team divided by industry, geography or another factor altogether?
  • Volume of inbound leads. Dealing with large numbers is different than small numbers.  If your lead generation produces a lot of noise compared to what matters, then the lead assignment rules need to recognize how to create efficiency rather than wasteful time.
  • Response criteria.  What is the response time and quality controls associated with sales response?
  • Load balancing.  Is there a way to assess how to distribute a volume of prospects?
  • Prioritization.  Do certain criteria drive high priority engagements from your sales team?
  • Competitiveness. Does your team work from a performance structure rather than a delegation structure?

These are factors which will create the policies and rules for your lead assignment in Salesforce.com.  Based on the governance of your sales management, customizing or programming Salesforce.com should then be done recognizing the flow of how prospects are managed and assigned.  Furthermore, the management of key metrics around follow-up, responsiveness and lead conversion will be a feedback loop for further refining your rules.

Intelligent Lead Assignment

Once your process rules are established, create the rules with both sequencing and prioritization.  Here are 3 approaches to use depending on the sophistication of your lead management process:

  1. Lead Assignment Rules.  Within the Lead customization setup, the specific wizard will allow you to create the priorities and delegation reflective of your sales process.  Be sure to clarify whether a prospect is assigned to a specific person in a prioritization sequence or within a queue.  The advantage of using the latter is the ability for your team to work from a pooled group of Leads and assign themselves Leads based on their effort and work.  The rules can later be modified.  Use a report to monitor the load balancing and effectiveness and later modify the rules to ensure your sales team is managing leads without losing opportunities.
  2. Apex Triggers. You can create specific programmed triggers from your Lead records which will assign Leads to the right person on your team.  For example, if a field such as “Industry” contains “Manufacturing,” then you can create a trigger for assigning this to a queue or person that manages this type of industry lead.  The triggers are rules which will also initiate upon saving new or existing records in Salesforce.com.  Be sure that these are accounted for in addition to any inbound leads from web forms.
  3. Marketing Automation. If you want the highest level of adaptive record ownership, then marketing automation will be able to score a Lead based on their activities with your content.  This scoring becomes data which can feed the rulesle or Apex Triggers you have already set.
  4. Custom Programming.  Of course, with your Salesforce.com API activated, you can also custom program scripts which will drive further intelligent assignment rules if the above do not suffice for process and strategy you are seeking to implement.

In my Salesforce.com consulting work, I start with process first.  This means getting clear on the business rules, culture and goals which make sense for driving revenue.  The options for enabling this are then discussed to ensure budget, flexibility and optimization are met.

The Lead assignment process is where your sales process first engages prospective customers.  Place the proper focus and rules on this area of your business to ensure you maximize your sales opportunities.

Salesforce.com Change Management

Salesforce.com is a disruptive technology.  It is more than a functional tool that a single user relies on to get things out like an Excel spreadsheet or a Word document.  It is a business system which touches people and process.  Those two elements create great opportunity if you can align your team.  It is also the reason that success with Salesforce.com can be elusive for organizations.  They think it is about software.  It’s ultimately about change management.

Salesforce.com Leadership

Change typically comes from management in an organization.  They want a repeatable process or transparency of execution.  Salesforce.com is a real-time management tool which provides this access for management.  Users adopting a system need a different motivation.  They care about ease of use and productivity.  If a tool slows them down or they are having to do more work then there will be resistance.

In our Salesforce.com consulting work, change management relies heavily on strong leadership.  There has to be a champion that:

  • Understands the goal
  • Is committed to the goal
  • Articulates requirements clearly
  • Has authority
  • Pushes

Weak leadership will create problems.  The status quo and the associated resistance from it has a way of undermining great initiatives and intentions.

Identifying the right champion when implementing Salesforce.com is a crux point.  Be sure to assess and appoint the right champion to work with the technical team.

Process And Clarity

An effective Salesforce.com system reflects good business process.  Your business processes need to be articulated clearly and translated into technical requirements.  This is a repetitive cycle which needs to be managed with extreme clarity.

If your process for managing an inbound lead requires some kind of follow up, the fields, data objects, email templates and data relationships are all impacted from one process step.  Ensure your identified Salesforce.com champion or Salesforce.com consultant can guide the technical implementation process accordingly.

Time And Space

It is better to do a little than a lot.  Part of the art of change management is getting users to use the system as quickly as possible.  Then step back and allow them to drive further change from their adoption.  Too much change will not be retained through training.  Little bits at a time will.

We like to create a knowledge base resource which becomes an anchor for users as they learn new ways of working in Salesforce.com.  This can be updated and is accessible ongoing.  Furthermore, it becomes an asset to not only the users, but any new hires to the organization that need to come up to speed quickly.

Focus On User Success

Success builds success.  Much of Salesforce.com adoption comes from momentum.  Launching is a large milestone which is difficult to push towards.  Leadership, culture and requirements definition and implementation all play a role.  Allowing your users to have space to use Salesforce.com and then hearing new requirements helps drive ownership from management to users.

Be sure that there is a focus on users and their adoption.  Their struggles are opportunities.  Their feedback are new requirements.  Their opinions show passion.

Change and Salesforce.com are coupled.

How has your experience been with change management?