Salesforce is a powerful tool that can transform an organization’s ability to serve customers. But like any tool, using it well requires knowledge and experience. Without the right setup and practices, you’re not likely to see the ROI you expected (and budgeted for) when you made the decision to adopt Salesforce.
Here, I’ll outline five red flags that signal your organization isn’t getting as great an ROI as it could from Salesforce, along with three concrete tips for fixing the problem.
Red Flag 1: Salespeople Aren’t Entering Opportunities Until They’re about to Close
If you’ve noticed that sales opportunities aren’t showing up until they’re nearly closed-won, consider it a red flag.
The motivation behind this behavior is easy to understand: salespeople who are measured on their close rates may not want to share what they’re working on until they’re nearly sure of success.
But this withholding of information can cause problems for the rest of the team. Chief among them: it prevents managers from seeing what’s in the pipeline and therefore from being able to forecast accurately. That could lead them to take actions that don’t make sense for the team’s actual standing.
The solution: First, a caveat: every organization is different, which is one reason why implementing Salesforce effectively is so complex. No solution in this article should be considered a one-size-fits-all fix.
But in many cases where we see last-minute opportunity entry, we find that building essential parts of the sales process into Salesforce can have a big positive impact.
For example: if a salesperson has to get credit approval to move an opportunity forward, force them to request that approval within Salesforce. Then train the finance team to address only those requests they get through Salesforce (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: “Submit for Approval” steps within Salesforce
By forcing teams to operate within Salesforce, you ensure that managers have the data they need to accurately evaluate and forecast.
Red Flag 2: Entering the Bare Minimum of Data
If you’ve noticed that the opportunities in your Salesforce org don’t have as much data as you were hoping for, you may not be seeing as great an ROI as you expected.
When you have incomplete data, it’s impossible for managers to do the kind of analysis that lets teams get incrementally better. Without a full picture of what’s working and what’s not, managers have no way of coaching their teams toward better performance.
The solution: Make more fields mandatory within your Salesforce org (see Figure 2). This may require you to change how your pipeline is set up so that team members can’t move an opportunity forward until they’ve entered the information that you consider essential for analyzing performance and guiding the team.
Figure 2: A message signaling that the opportunity can’t be moved forward without additional data
Red Flag 3: Team Members Are Still Using Emails and Spreadsheets
This one can be particularly discouraging. You’ve spent lots of time and money to deploy Salesforce, only to see your team continue to rely on emails, spreadsheets, sticky notes, and other tools you know are less effective.
To solve this problem it’s essential to know why it happened. Some common causes we’ve seen:
- An organization’s IT team deploys Salesforce without consulting the groups who will be using it.
- Teams expected to use Salesforce don’t get sufficient training.
- Leadership hasn’t explained exactly how big an impact Salesforce can have on a company’s performance.
The solution: Naturally, the best way to improve adoption depends on why it’s low in the first place. But in general, we find that organizations can eliminate this problem by embracing the mindset that if it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.
This will manifest in many ways:
- Running sales meetings by viewing Salesforce pipelines.
- Forcing salespeople to request necessary documents through Salesforce.
- Training team members in using chat features within Salesforce to keep all necessary communications about an opportunity within the platform.
- Of course, the ultimate solution is to communicate and enforce a policy that states that commissions will only be paid on what is in Salesforce.
Red Flag 4: Only One Team Has Visibility into Salesforce
Sure, it’s called Salesforce, but the promise of this software is that it gives organizations a 360-degree view of customers. That’s not possible without input from members of every part of an organization.
When only one team (often sales) has access to and visibility into Salesforce, we often find that other teams aren’t able to operate as efficiently as possible. For example, when the warehouse team doesn’t have pipeline visibility, they aren’t able to prepare shipments as quickly as they could.
Another example: for companies that sell custom products and services, the delivery team needs to sign off that each package the sales team puts together is configured and priced correctly. Without that visibility, a salesperson may find themselves in the unpleasant position of having to go back to a customer after a deal has closed to change pricing or specs.
The solution: One feature we’ve found to be helpful in these cases is the “guidance for success” box in every opportunity stage (see Figure 3). In this box, it’s possible to include explicit, granular tips for what salespeople need to do to ensure success at each stage of an opportunity.
Figure 3: Detailed “Guidance for Success” tips
A sample guidance for success tip might be something like “Attach a copy of the proposal and opportunity and send a Chatter post to other impacted teams.”
By requiring salespeople to execute on this step before they can move forward, you ensure that everyone who needs visibility into pending opportunities has it.
Just as having a 360-degree view of your customer can help you deliver better service and increase conversion rates, a 360-degree view of your business can help every team member operate more efficiently. Using Salesforce to facilitate essential communication among teams can prevent a lot of re-work, backtracking, and other behaviors that cost time and money.
Red Flag 5: Your Salesforce Admin Is Getting Lots of Support Requests
If users are peppering their managers or the support team with questions, that’s a signal that they don’t understand how to use the system and therefore won’t use it effectively. Ultimately, of course, this means your company won’t see an ROI as high as expected.
The solution: Adopt an Organizational Change Management strategy that includes regular communication and end-user training. This type of strategy also requires you to provide FAQs and post-deployment forums where users can ask questions and get answers.
Executing this might be as simple as scheduling “office hours” once or twice per week where users can ask any question they have about where and how to perform tasks in Salesforce.
For Best Results, Treat Salesforce Like the Powerful Tool it Is
The performance improvements Salesforce advertises seem almost magical: more leads, shorter sales cycles, better close rates. But the software alone isn’t enough to bring those results to your organization.
Like any powerful tool, Salesforce requires experience and familiarity from the people using it. If the results you’ve seen since deploying Salesforce in your organization are underwhelming, it’s time to revisit your setup, training, and internal policies around the software.
Not sure where to start? Talk to one of our Salesforce consultants. We’d love to get you on the path to the Salesforce ROI you budgeted for.
As Saggezza’s Salesforce Practice lead, Jeff Pigatto oversees business development, drives customer success, and nurtures the company’s Salesforce alliance partnership to further support clients leveraging the Salesforce Customer Success Platform. Pigatto received an MBA from The George Washington University School of Business, a master’s from The George Washington University School of International Affairs, and a bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Iowa.
Saggezza is a proven technology and consulting partner that delivers personalized, high-value solutions to accelerate business growth.