Understanding and implementing a custom Salesforce installation can do wonders for your eCommerce, B2B, and B2C business. To do that, however, you need to understand what it does, how it works, and how best to utilize it while avoiding making costly mistakes.
Salesforce, at its base, is a SaaS CRM platform that allows you to manage sales-driven tasks in the cloud. This greatly enhances the ability to market, connect with clients, manage distribution channels and manage sales teams and workloads.
While this all sounds great, there’s actually much more to it. There’s an entire marketing platform that allows you to manage engagement, media campaigns, and various other parts of your marketing strategy to better hit your target market. There’s several other cloud-based service platforms tied to Salesforce and we’ll dive into them as we get into the guide to help you better understand and utilize the juggernaut that is Salesforce
The first thing to understand is that Salesforce is not a simple software upgrade for your business, it is a service and software platform. Essentially, by utilizing the Salesforce software, you gain access to a plethora of features that can enhance your business in a number of ways.
The failure to understand this can lead to mass underutilization and a lot of confusion when figuring out what to do. Consider this a bonus to our list of mistakes to avoid.
The second thing is that it is cloud-based, all of your customer acquisition lists, sales reports, and other information is stored virtually, which, if you’re not already used to, is something you’ll need to get used to. What this does is allows you to keep all your information and data all in one place and easily share it across different parts of your business.
This lets you manage the more minute or detail-oriented aspects a lot quicker and smoother.
The primary service that Salesforce users will be taking advantage of is the CRM service cloud, but there are several others that we’ll break down later in the guide. Each service that you implement has different benefits and features, but part of the implementation process is the learning curve. Another part is the cost and the time it takes to get full use out of the software and service clouds. Don’t expect to get it immediately and for it to work overnight.
Ok, so we could create an entire guide on all the different Salesforce services and features that are offered through their multiple cloud platforms, but the purpose of this guide is not to bombard you with every Salesforce thing out there. It is to educate you on Salesforce and its practical applications and how to avoid costly mistakes.
In the spirit of that, we are going to break down some of the primary Salesforce service clouds and what they can do to benefit your business, should you choose to use them.
As we said at the beginning, Salesforce began as a singular platform for CRM and this cloud platform serves that function. Though it has evolved greatly since the launch of Salesforce, the functions remain pretty much standard to what you’d expect a custom CRM build to do.
Instead of just managing and organizing customer responses, it allows you to handle various aspects of your marketing campaigns, lists of customers, inquiries, leads, and even customer support facets.
This is the go-to platform for B2B and B2C businesses as it lets them streamline much of their marketing efforts and gather their data in one place that is easily shareable amongst team members.
Your sales team can easily strategize, adjust campaign strategies and launch new campaigns all from this one resource, plus it keeps everything nice and neat for you so it’s great in a team setting.
It’s important not to get this service cloud confused with the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. This service cloud is focused on all things marketing-related. This includes all your platforms where you send out messages, social media, e-mail, web searches, etc. It allows your marketers to manage customer experience and collect data.
Additionally, it functions as a powerful content management and creation tool. From this one platform, you can manage all of your content across the web, create new content and even collect analytical data on all your customer traffic and other information.
This will be the primary way for your marketers to manage your presence on the web, putting it all in one place allows for smoother running of ad campaigns, the ability to create a constant stream of new content, as well as ways to improve user experience and experiment with new forms of marketing.
Having the ability to integrate all of these facets of marketing into one place can drastically reduce the time lapse when starting new campaigns and reduce overall costs by allowing for fewer hours spent managing marketing content. Businesses large and small can benefit from this platform.
This is where all of your customer service and support teams will congregate. This singular platform allows you to store relevant information for customer support topics, provide guidance and solutions to customers and answer questions all in one place.
It has built-in case tracking that allows for easy follow-up with support tickets, making the resolution process faster and smoother. It also has social media plugins available to allow you to converse directly with customers to resolve issues or discuss relevant topics and the analytics extensions allow you to collect lots of useful data.
This may not be one of the services that every business uses, but for those that provide a service or product to customers and want to have an efficient way of communicating and resolving issues, this is the ideal platform for that purpose.
Additionally, robust customer support helps to facilitate growth and foster a greater reputation for your business.
Not to be confused with social media, this service cloud offers the ability to seamlessly communicate with employees, team members, contacts, vendors, and other people through one platform.
This makes interdepartmental and cross-departmental communication a breeze, especially if working on complex campaigns and projects that require input from multiple parts of the business. Can you imagine having to email back and forth for every little approval or adjustment to a marketing campaign?
It even facilitates communication with customers which can then be recorded and used as an additional source of data. Data is crucial in business and being able to communicate with customers more smoothly and efficiently will help make things easier for the customer and your business.
Lastly, it allows for live sharing of data and images. This means that teams can give progress reports, share information and updates, or give presentations in real-time from different locations thanks to the cloud. This saves lots of time when actively working on different projects.
You could just as well call this customer experience cloud. What this service cloud allows you to do is interact with customers regardless of their location, whether they’re on your site or in your physical store location.
Essentially, it allows you to improve the customer’s experience by being able to interact with them and meet their needs no matter what form their business takes. It also includes customer data integrations so that you can further improve and customize the user experience.
Customer engagement is one of the most crucial aspects of customer satisfaction and as we know, customer satisfaction is the key to a successful business. The ability to interact with customers from anywhere and integrate relevant data into the customer experience is the best way to enhance your customer experience and improve business.
If your business is heavily customer-focused or you have both a digital and physical presence for your business, such as online and brick and mortar stores, then this platform will provide a great deal of benefits to your business.
This is your data sharing and presentation hub for your business. It allows you to store and send large data files, create charts and graphs, and other presentation materials and then share them with everyone on the platform. In other words, it’s your own custom business intelligence platform.
In terms of the brain of your business, this is it. This is where you will store, share, send, and present all of the data that your business collects.
The ability to easily access and distribute vital information to teams of employees or throughout the entire business will vastly improve efficiency and allow for better performance overall.
If your business relies on moving around large chunks of data, preparing complex presentations, and uses lots of charts and graphs, then this cloud service is one of the ones that you’ll want to implement immediately.
Now that we’ve covered some of the important services and how they benefit your business, we’ll break down some of the mistakes you should avoid making when implementing Salesforce
Like we talked about at the beginning, it’s easy to think that Salesforce is just another software, another tool in the toolbox if you will, of businesses to help improve their sales and marketing experience.
How hard can it really be to implement it? As you’ve now learned, though it may just be software at its core, the scope of Salesforce and what it does, its uses, and various applications is so big that no one person would be able to unpack and utilize all of it on their own.
Even if you’re just consulting with your own IT department (versus outsourcing your software development needs), you need to have the right help and a plan in place before you even attempt to implement Salesforce. There are plenty of resources (like this guide) to help you get a grasp on just how to use Salesforce, but until you actually implement it, you won’t understand the scale of the undertaking you’re about to embark on.
You can even contact Salesforce itself for help and support. After all, they did sort of build it, didn’t they?
Continuing on with the theme from implementation, not taking the time to teach your staff (and yourself) how to use Salesforce is a big mistake to avoid. You shouldn’t rush into these things just because you assume you know what it is.
There’s a lot to absorb and making use of all the features will take some time. Just managing the cloud storage and access files and data may take a bit of getting used to and that’s not even counting diving into the countless other services, platforms, and features that Salesforce provides.
You should be soft testing some of these features before full implementation and training your employees as you go. It doesn’t have to be an IT boot camp for newbies, but they need to understand what they are using and how to do so.
Just because you’re implementing a new CRM system doesn’t mean that everything you did previously gets automatically filed into the circular file (the garbage can). Much of that data can be integrated in a custom way and honestly should be integrated into Salesforce.
This doesn’t mean that you need the invoice for every birthday gift you bought Jolene, your secretary of 15 years, but moving over what’s useful and relevant will make things go a lot smoother.
You should take this opportunity to clean up your data and move over anything that pertains to your business and eliminate duplicate or useless data. That way you start with everything you need and nothing you don’t when you begin implementing Salesforce.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but we’ll say it here. Move your data before you fully implement Salesforce, or else you’ll only be giving yourself a major headache trying to do it after you’ve gone live. Once new data is coming in, it’s hard to migrate old data over and keep track of everything.
With everything that Salesforce offers, it would be silly and downright inefficient not to customize it for your business. In fact, it’s built for that. Many of the apps, tools, and features that come with Salesforce are highly useful as they are, but there’s a little secret you should know, you can customize all of them!
Leaving Salesforce at the factory setting will probably do just fine, but that’s about like leaving your seat in the car at that awkward angle when you can slide it back a notch and be much more comfortable.
Not only can you customize for your particular business, using what you need when you need it, but you can also customize to make it easier to use. Leaving out bits of data or adding in certain parameters so that putting together an ad campaign becomes an easy task.
Once you’ve implemented a custom Salesforce build, be sure to go under the hood and start tweaking things to your liking. You’ll get a lot more utility and function out of it that way.
That’s right, you had to know it was coming, and this is the mistake that, if you make it, will cost you the most. Just like you can tweak parts of Salesforce to benefit your business operations, you can tweak other aspects to impact customer experience as well.
With some of the features available you can provide personalized service, support, and user experiences to your customers. While a standard business practice may work, customers often crave that individualized attention.
Utilizing the different service clouds, you can improve the user experience both virtually, and in-person if your business operates that way and this will, in turn, increase conversion rates and repeat business. Failing to do this could actually drive customers away if they feel like yours is the same boring experience as everywhere else.
A custom-tailored experience is a great way to get an edge over your competitors.
Well, that’s it, folks. Hopefully, this guide will help you not only get the most out of your Salesforce experience but prevent you from making some of the more costly and aggravating mistakes.
Much like with any major endeavor, proper preparation is the key to success. Salesforce is a powerful tool that you can use to improve your business. As a Salesforce Silver Partner, we have the chops to help you on your next implementation project! Just make sure to take the time to learn about it and implement it correctly so that you can take full advantage of what it offers.
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.