Salesforce Implementation Guide: CRM Implementation Strategy from A to Z

September 19, 2022
25 min

Salesforce continues to dominate the CRM space with a 23.9 % market share based on a statista.com report. Since 1999, Spotify, Toyota, Canon, and other 150,000 companies worldwide have entrusted this CRM vendor with optimization of their business operations.

Why do so many companies entrust their technology revolution to Salesforce? The reason for such popularity is that successful Salesforce implementation guarantees an average 37% increase in revenue and business effectiveness.

If you are about to welcome this platform and want to learn about the ins and outs of CRM implementation, spend a couple of minutes reading our Salesforce implementation guide.

It will explain what is Salesforce implementation, how long does it take to implement Salesforce, how much does it cost, how to prepare for Salesforce implementation to organize it best, and why a consultant is vital for successful CRM rollout.

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What is Salesforce Implementation?

 

Salesforce implementation is a process of rolling out its core product — CRM (customer relationship management) system  — to centralize all key business activities and communication. This platform unifies the 3 most common CRM product types, namely operational, analytical, and collaborative, making it the #1 CRM solution on the market.

Why Should You Implement Salesforce Right Now?

 

Salesforce infrastructure includes a wide list of its native products like Sales, Service, and Marketing Cloud catering to the needs of sales and marketing professionals. Besides that, it offers thousands of third-party tools on AppExchange (Salesforce’s app market) designed to enhance the core platform’s operational power.

Due to Salesforce’s popularity, there is no lack of professionals ready to help you with the implementation and customization of your solution. So, if you are a complete newbie to the CRM world or are not tech-savvy enough, you can easily delegate these tasks to skillful Salesforce implementation consultants with deep knowledge of this platform.

 

How to Prepare for Salesforce Implementation: 10 Steps to Successful CRM Rollout

 

Salesforce implementation is a serious investment, so the preparation process shouldn’t be taken lightly. Before you launch your project, start with the following checklist:

 

Step #1: Bring Together the Business Stakeholders to Discuss the Main Goals and Challenges

 

It’s essential to engage with different teams and people within your company to have a complete picture of your business needs for Salesforce implementation.

To know what to expect from your CRM, you need to understand what internal challenges you have.

Interview key members at every level of business to understand what pain points they experience every day.

After that, you’ll be able to identify what can be solved with the help of software and prioritize your teams to set realistic goals for your system.

 

Step #2: Document All The Internal Processes And Daily Tasks 

 

It’s important to stop and think about the day-to-day tasks of your teams and how their workflows look like.

Reach out to each department of your organization and ask them to document these processes and how they can be optimized.

 

Step #3: Set Project Timeline and Budget

 

Make sure that your Salesforce implementation project doesn’t overlap with other ongoing significant projects. To reduce risks of key resources shortage, set the best time frame in advance.

As soon as you’ve defined the project timeline, plan vital rollout phrases, testing, and kickoff meetings.

Also, evaluate your key needs and expectations to balance them with a high-level budget estimate. To get more detailed budget projections, it’s better to contact a few Salesforce consultants with long-term experience with various CRM implementation approaches.

 

Step #4: Create Several Scenarios of the Project Outcome

 

Salesforce project estimation is heavily influenced by a number of factors, including company size, amount of data to import, and required customization.

To avoid unexpected situations and predict possible risks, create three scenarios of the Salesforce implementation process: optimistic, pessimistic, and the most likely one.

 

Step#5: Establish Metrics for Success

 

To measure the success of your Salesforce implementation project, you need to set tangible goals and metrics.

For example, you want to reduce case resolution time by 40% or increase lead flow by 30% with the CRM rollout.

Such specific metrics help to envision goal completion and modify your implementation strategy accordingly.

 

Step #6: Set Communication Channels and Create a Communication Plan

 

To achieve CRM implementation goals, team collaboration should be clear and consistent.

Effective communication between implementers, project stakeholders, and teams within the organization is a key to successful Salesforce CRM deployment and adoption.

 

Step #7: Identify your Project Stakeholders and Individual Roles

 

Even if your organization’s resources are too limited, you have to appoint key people who will be involved in the Salesforce implementation process.

Generally, CRM rollout project stakeholders involve:

  • Senior management
  • Platform users
  • Sales, service, and marketing teams
  • Channel partners
  • Customers
  • IT specialists.

But it doesn’t mean that you need to have a large, dedicated team to set up CRM implementation because one person can handle several major roles.

It’s also vitally important to identify:

  • Your primary stakeholder that will assure your preparedness for the CRM implementation project
  • The person who will oversee the whole process internally and will serve as a primary point of contact
  • The technical resource who is in charge of systems in place that you’d like to integrate with Salesforce or migrate from.

 

Step #8: Explore Your Source Data 

 

Before starting your Salesforce implementation process, you need to prepare your data for the import.

Regardless of its source, you need to be sure that your data sets are accurate and free of errors to nourish your new system and business operations.

Establish policies for naming conventions and data duplication prevention.

 

Step #9: Create Change Management Plan

 

Be sure that you have a definite change management plan in effect prior to launching Salesforce implementation.

It should continue throughout the CRM project and after the go-live date.

 

Step #10: Understand Salesforce Structure and UI

 

Getting to know the look, feel, and structure of Salesforce is also a necessary step before moving to Salesforce.

It will help you and your team manage your expectations in regards to system capabilities in translating your business process into a new platform.

 

 

All You Need to Know About Salesforce Implementation Process

 

After you’ve done all the necessary preparations, it’s time to think about other important constituents of a successful Salesforce implementation process. Let’s start with CRM implementation phases you need to prepare for:

 

True Salesforce Implementation Cost: Unveiling Hidden CRM Rollout Pricing

 

In this section, we provide very rough figures and explain what might influence the final cost. A more detailed explanation of the CRM rollout cost is given in our post: “Real Cost of Implementing Salesforce“.

Generally, Salesforce implementation costs are heavily influenced by:

  • Scope and complexity of the project
  • Needed products and their editions
  • Number of licenses you are going to purchase
  • Number and cost of systems or tools you are going to integrate
  • Cost of CRM consulting
  • Cost of data migration
  • CRM customization costs
  • Cost of user training
  • Cost of after-launch support.

Additionally, you will need to consider the number of hours your team will spend on Salesforce implementation, training, and adoption. They will result in indirect CRM-related expenditure.

Once you’ve decided to deploy Salesforce, you need to prioritize your expenses. If you have a tight budget, determine what should be done on a first-priority basis and what can be deferred.

There are two cost components for a Salesforce implementation: subscription and services costs.

 

Salesforce Subscription Costs

 

The ultimate Salesforce subscription costs are driven by:

  • Salesforce Cloud
  • Cloud edition
  • The number of subscribers.

The top products that power up most other Salesforce solutions are Sales and Service Clouds. Let’s compare these two CRM product lines on a high level.

 

Sales Cloud vs Service Cloud

Sales Cloud
Service Cloud
Pricing Range:
$25 - $300 user/month
Pricing Range:
$25 - $300 user/month
Average Customer Rating (GetApp.com):
4.4
Average Customer Rating (GetApp.com): 4.4
Designed For:
Sales Representatives, Sales Managers
Designed For:
Customer Service Agents, Customer Service Managers
Features: Campaigns, Leads & Opportunities, Accounts & Contacts, Dashboards & Reports, Event Management & Calendars, Activity & Task Management,
Customizable Objects,
Self-Service Portal, Sales Forecasts
Features:
Service Level Agreements, Dedicated Console, Service Entitlements, Multichannel Routing Web-to-Case
Pros:
Reporting functionality, customisable dashboards
Pros: Complete overview on customers, easily set up queues and routing
Cons: Steep learning curveCons: Highly complex
Salesforce Sales Cloud vs Service Cloud Comparison

 

The lower and upper-end range of monthly subscription costs for Sales and Service Clouds is $25 – $300/user/month.

For some industries, you can opt to buy a ready-made solution based on Salesforce that already includes a license in addition to customization tailored to a certain industry.

Quite often, you’ll be able to get such solutions at a lower price.

E.g., we market our commercial real estate CRM on top of Salesforce starting at $79/user, and it includes a Salesforce license embedded.

How is it possible and what are the trade-offs?

We explain how it works in greater detail in our post: Salesforce for Commercial Real Estate: Available Pricing Options (applicable for any industry).

At Ascendix, we help our clients optimize Salesforce costs and select the products that they really need.

 

CRM Consulting Service Costs

 

Salesforce Implementation Service Cost Based on Location

Salesforce Implementation Service Cost Based on Location

 

Let’s find out how much Salesforce implementation consulting may cost you based on employment type:

 

Salesforce Implementation Consulting Cost Models

Employment Type
Cost
Freelancer
$20 - $250/hr
In-House Experts
$50, 000 - 150, 000/year
US-based (Onshore) Consultants
$60 - $300/hour
Europe-based CRM Consultants
$15 - $150/hour
Other Offshore Salesforce Consultants
$15-$80/hour
Mixed Models of Salesforce Onshore and Offshore Consultants
Custom rates
Salesforce Consulting Cost Models

 

Freelance Salesforce Consultants Cost

 

Rate range $20 – $250/hour (Based on freelance platforms like Upwork and PeoplePerHour)

 

Freelance Salesforce consulting services may be a real bargain in cases where you hire a reliable freelance consultant by a referral. That’s especially true if you have a relatively small and non-complicated project that does not require large teams with specialized skillsets.

But a good Salesforce consultant is like a good doctor — it’s usually booked out well in advance leading to inflexibilities in your project timeline.

Moreover, behind these seemingly low prices may be hidden risks. The most common ones are:

  • A low level of expertise
  • Lack of proper experience in managing complicated projects
  • Limited accessibility to varied technical resources.

Due to this, your project may take longer to complete because freelancers usually work alone, and it can take a while to finish Salesforce implementation for mid-size and big projects.

 

Final wrap-up:

 

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Freelance Salesforce Consultant

Pros
Cons
Low prices Risks that expected level of expertise and service may not correspond to promised ones
Culture fit (Ability to hire a freelancer from your location who speaks your language)Long timeline of performance and the limited scope of services
Advantages and Disadvantages of Engaging with a Freelance Salesforce Consultant

 

In-House Salesforce Specialists

 

Rate range $50, 000 – 150, 000/year (According to Glassdoor)

Some companies choose to hire in-house specialists to build a team of experts that will:

  • Have the required set of technical skills
  • Be fully involved and committed to their company projects
  • Share their company vision.

 

This may be a better option for those who are ready to invest in long-term relationships to achieve sustainable long-time results in building company expertise.

However, hiring in-house Salesforce professionals is not a cheap option, especially, if you’re a small company.

Besides annual salary payments, there are other expenses associated with hiring an in-house Salesforce specialist:

  • Recruitment costs
  • Payroll costs
  • Onboarding costs
  • Taxes
  • Sick leaves and vacations
  • Costs for office and team management
  • Expenses related to workspace and physical needs.

 

Final wrap-up:

 

Pros and Cons of Hiring an In-House Salesforce Expert

Pros
Cons
An employee will work only on your projects and will be available when you need himOn-going payroll expenses and related staffing costs
You reduce time on online conferences, calls, chatting, and emailing because you can discuss all the issues face-to-face for less timeSpent time on team management
Complete involvement and understanding of the company vision, goals, and needsPersistent skill development of your employee
Advantages and Disadvantages of Engaging with an In-House Salesforce Expert

 

Assuming that both aforementioned types are not a fit, engaging with Salesforce consulting partners is another popular approach.

 

Salesforce Consulting Partners

 

Let’s find out how much Salesforce implementation consulting may cost you based on their location:

 

Salesforce Implementation Service Cost Based on Location

Salesforce Implementation Service Cost Based on Location

 

US-based (Onshore) Salesforce Consultants

 

Rates $60 – $300/hour

Salesforce outsourcing services help to save money on hiring. You can also leverage all the benefits of working with experts in the same time zone, speaking your language, and sharing your culture specifics.

 

Final wrap-up:

 

Pros and Cons of Hiring an US-based (Onshore) Salesforce Consultants

Pros
Cons
Maximizing overlap of time zones and full cultural alignmentTight schedule of Salesforce consultants due to engagement in several projects at one time
Flexible hourly payment system based on performed workLess integration between different teams in your company
Fewer risks of hiring an under-qualified consultantEver-increasing rates of US-based Salesforce consultants
Advantages and Disadvantages of Engaging with US-based (Onshore) Salesforce Consultants

 

Europe-based Salesforce Consultants

 

Rates $15 – $150/hour depending on the European country

Europe-based consultants have affordable skill sets as compared to US-based colleagues, and it can be worth searching for talent in those markets.

Second, companies operating in Europe offer competitive Salesforce consulting pricing without loss of quality.

Third, business models used there are similar to the ones deployed in the US, so you won’t experience culture shock.

The only things that can overshadow the advantages of this option are different time zones and compliance with some regulations.

 

Final wrap-up:

 

Pros and Cons of Hiring Europe-based Salesforce Consultants

Pros
Cons
Favorable pricing policy without loss of qualityDifferent time zone
Similar business modelsDifficulties with some regulations’ compliance
While communication barriers still exist, English is spoken throughout the world and with the appropriate firm, language barriers can be removedLanguage barriers can become an issue with some firms that do not place a priority on English fluency
Advantages and Disadvantages of Engaging with Europe-based Salesforce Consultants

 

Other Offshore Salesforce Consultants

 

Rates $15 – $80/hour

Offshore Salesforce consulting agencies from China, India, and Latin America offer lower prices compared to the US and Europe-based companies.

However, it comes hand-in-hand with unavoidable culture disparity and difficulties with communication due to the language barrier.

Also, like in the case with Europe-based Salesforce consultants, you should be ready for issues related to differences in time zones that will reflect in a longer discussion of questions.

 

Final wrap-up:

 

Pros and Cons of Hiring Offshore Salesforce Consultants

Pros
Cons
Low pricesDifficulties with some regulations’ compliance
Wide selection of CRM consultantsCulture discrepancy and language barrier
Advantages and Disadvantages of Engaging with Offshore Salesforce Consultants

 

Mixed Models of Salesforce Onshore and Offshore Consultants

 

Rates – custom

This is a hybrid model where you have local business analysts and project managers to maximize communication pathways but with the economic benefits and access to development resources of an offshore model.

This concept helps to leverage all the advantages of both onshore and offshore models and at the same time eliminate their disadvantages.

We at Ascendix offer this as one of our approaches so you can select the right onshore/offshore mix and discover your personal benefits from this solution.

Need Help with Salesforce Implementation?

We will help you to implement Salesforce in your organization, train your team, and make them use it. Request a free consultation now!

CRM Implementation Phases You Should Be Ready For

 

Phase #1: CRM Strategy Creation

 

CRM strategy is your action plan of implementing a CRM system that takes into consideration people’s needs, required processes, and technology capabilities to achieve business goals. This phase may also involve other sub-phases like:

  • Requirements analysis and documenting,
  • Assessment and selection of consulting partners to guide you through the implementation
  • Task prioritization,
  • Building the CRM vision
  • Identifying key people, processes, and technology requirements.

 

Phase #2: The CRM Project Foundations Establishing 

 

During this stage you:

  • Define project stakeholders
  • Set governance structures
  • Identify change management needs
  • Define project management requirements
  • Establish core success metrics
  • Create a risk management plan

 

Phase #3: Requirements Specifications & Consulting Partner Selection

 

On this step, you’ll need to:

  • Devise the process
  • Review data and analyze gaps
  • Specify initial technology needs and research alternative solutions
  • Write a request for proposal (RFP)
  • Revise technology needs

 

Phase #4: CRM Implementation

 

This project stage includes:

  • Refining CRM implementation project plan
  • Selection of necessary Salesforce Cloud and edition
  • Analyzing technology customization needs
  • Creating prototype design, testing, modifying, and deployment

 

Phase #5: End-User Training & CRM Performance Evaluation

 

In this phase you need to:

  • Reassess project documentation
  • Create training programs for your system admins and end-users, build an onboarding plan for new hires
  • Review and communicate how well you are doing on key success factors
  • Analyze whether initial business goals and specific CRM objectives have been achieved
  • Organize best practices and tips & tricks CRM workshops to share with the rest of the teams
  • Arrange follow-up training sessions to discuss initiatives in further CRM optimization
  • Review your CRM project roadmap to align further modification of the system with the project and business goals

Effective Salesforce Implementation Strategy: Self-Managed vs Managed

 

The most frequently asked question among the businesses looking to implement or switch to Salesforce: “Can I implement Salesforce myself?”. Despite quite a steep learning curve and robustness of the platform, you can perform it on your own. In fact, Salesforce offers 3 CRM implementation models:

  • When the consulting partner performs all of the implementations (Managed)
  • When Salesforce implementation partner and you perform the implementation (Mixed)
  • When you perform all of the implementations with a slight partner’s guidance (Self-Managed)

Each of these models has its advantages and disadvantages. Still, it is necessary to seek a Salesforce consultant’s help in the very early stage to refine your CRM implementation project roadmap and eliminate risks.

A professional Salesforce consultant will advise on how to implement your software: support the existing business processes with Salesforce, tailor them to Salesforce or redesign the business processes and then map them to Salesforce.

 

Managed Salesforce Implementation Model

 

In this type of engagement, you delegate most of the implementation project work to the consulting partner. Here are the most common pros & cons of this approach:

 

Pros and Cons of The Managed Salesforce Implementation

Pros
Cons
Partners complete technical work with extensive product and industry knowledgeHigher implementation cost
Vast experience with various implementation processes
Focus on connecting business process and the desired outcome
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Managed Salesforce Implementation

 

Mixed (Joint) CRM Implementation Model 

 

This model allows splitting the responsibilities between you and your consulting partner. Such type of engagement has its benefits and downsides as well:

 

Pros and Cons of The Semi-Managed Salesforce Implementation

Pros
Cons
Lower implementation costComplex project management engaging both external and internal resources
Expert design of Salesforce architectureLonger timelines of solution implementation
Hands-on experience for your staff configuring and customizing the solution
Additional training for your team to support the solution after implementation
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Joint Salesforce Implementation Model

 

Self-Managed Salesforce Implementation Model 

 

This model implies that you can implement the CRM under the partner’s guidance where the partner takes on the role of an advisor and you own all the deliverables. Like the previous two approaches, this type of engagement has its advantages and disadvantages:

 

Pros and Cons of The Self-Managed Salesforce Implementation

Pros
Cons
Low implementation costLonger project completion timeline
You become self-sufficient
Your team learns how to speed on the platform and how your business processes can best be supported
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Self-Managed Salesforce Implementation Model

Best Salesforce Implementation Team Structure

 

The Salesforce team is another important part that is involved in Salesforce implementation. You can create this team out of your employees and distribute the key roles among them or engage with a consulting partner to streamline this process. There are overall three aspects Salesforce implementation can assist you with:

  1. Salesforce consulting partners work with you to review your ongoing sales and business processes.
  2. CRM consultants handle in-depth training of your team on how to create and configure fields, objects, reports, and other variables within the org.
  3. They ensure successful CRM adoption and help your sales team to reach a more efficient sales process level.

But, regardless of whether you proceed on your own or with a Salesforce partner, you need to learn:

  • Who is responsible for CRM implementation?
  • What are the responsibilities of a Salesforce implementation team?

 

Who is Responsible for Salesforce Implementation?

 

The Executive Sponsor is the #1 person who drives the whole Salesforce implementation process, creates the strategic vision of the business, and builds the CRM implementation team.

 

What Are the Responsibilities of a Salesforce Implementation Team?

 

A typical Salesforce implementation team structure and their responsibilities look like this:

 

Typical Salesforce Implementation Team Structure

Role
Responsibility
Executive Sponsor
This is a person who provides leadership in Salesforce CRM adoption, allocates budget, and leads the implementation to success.
Project Owner
It is a person who manages the project, gets the Salesforce software up and running, has a clear vision on how to map business processes to Salesforce CRM.
Salesforce Administrator
This individual who daily maintains the Salesforce CRM system support after launch, helps the organization with new functionality on the post-implementation phase, and supports training and adoption.
Power UsersThese are people who test and provide feedback during the Salesforce implementation and provide on-the-spot troubleshooting to end users.
End UsersThese individuals are people who are actually going to use Salesforce CRM on a daily basis.
Outside Experts These professionals serve as knowledge guides and assist with implementing more advanced features
Common Salesforce Implementation Team Structure

 

Even if your organization’s resources are too limited, you have to appoint key people who will be involved in the Salesforce implementation process. It doesn’t mean that you need to have a large, dedicated team to set up CRM implementation because one person can represent several major roles.

Also, besides the above-mentioned roles, you need to have a primary point of contact (for example a dedicated Project Manager), that will manage the project internally.

Salesforce Implementation Challenges: Why CRM Rollout May Fail

 

There are numerous reasons why CRM implementation may fail.  Some of the most common pitfalls are a lack of project planning, absence of clear implementation strategy, and neglecting possible risks.

Here is a complete list of issues that can result in failure:

  1. No Clear CRM Implementation Plan and Risk Management Strategy
  2. Lack of Understanding your Users’ and Customers’ Needs
  3. No Definite Business Vision and Customer-oriented Goals
  4. Hidden Cost Associated with CRM Implementation
  5. Poor Salesforce Consultant’s Choice
  6. Poor Data Quality
  7. Lack of Transparency and Clear Communication
  8. Lack of Technology Integration and CRM Testing
  9. Poor or No User Training
  10. Poor CRM Adoption

Our Salesforce professionals explain why some Salesforce implementation projects succeed while others do not:

There are many reasons why Salesforce implementations fail, but here are a few to highlight:
1) Lack of management commitment of resources (allocation of internal resources and money for external consulting)
2) Lack of direct and identifiable connection between the technology and the business problem it is trying to solve
3) Lack of proper training to bring the end-user community
4) Importation of inaccurate, incomplete, or duplicate data

Wes Snow, the CEO/Founder at Ascendix Technologies

I have noticed that if the software is not meeting a need for the user or management doesn’t “force” the users to log in and use the system, then it will just languish. Change is always hard for people to embrace but if you can provide them a better way, a faster way to do something then it will be a success. However, if the user has to do double-entry because of a lack of integration with another system, or they can’t get the information out they need in a simple way, then the project will fail.

Marissa Mills, a Salesforce Consultant at Ascendix Technologies

15 Steps to Create a Perfect SFSC Implementation Project Plan

 

As with any other project, the plan for the Salesforce rollout project should have certain elements like:

  • Timeline
  • Stakeholders
  • Dependencies
  • Milestones.

 

Timeline 

 

The timeline in the standard Salesforce project plan is usually set in months and is updated as soon as each task is completed.

 

Stakeholders

 

The project plan should clearly name each stakeholder who is responsible for each step in Salesforce implementation.

 

Dependencies

 

It implies that the project has some constraints like task execution in a specific order that you should consider while planning.

 

Milestones

 

The plan structure should include granular checkpoints after each CRM implementation phase completion.

 

How can you manage a Salesforce implementation project?

 

There are generally 3 project management methodologies that can be used to manage a Salesforce implementation process:

 

Waterfall

 

This methodology is a good fit for predictable projects where you can plan it in detail and complete it in definite steps. However, the major drawback of this approach is in difficulty to make any changes to the project when it’s in the testing stage.

 

Agile

 

This technique helps to manage the implementation project in small sequences, also known as sprints. As it’s stated in the name, Agile methodology adds agility to responding to unpredictable situations and overseeing complex projects.

 

Salesforce Adaptive

 

This methodology offers the combination of the previous two approaches for different use cases. It ensures complete involvement in the project of all interested parties and management of the project in the most effective way.

 

Salesforce Implementation Project Plan

To initiate Salesforce implementation, you need to perform a set of preliminary activities like:

  • Develop a CRM strategy
  • Define project scope
  • Devise a project management plan
  • Create a communication and implementation plan.

Once all the above-mentioned actions are made, you should proceed with designing a CRM implementation plan. Here are the most significant project steps:

  1. Set Salesforce Implementation Goals and Measurable Metrics for Success
  2. Talk to a Salesforce Implementation Consulting Partner
  3. Select your Salesforce Cloud and Analyze Its Capabilities
  4. Define Implementation Risks
  5. Set a Timeline and Budget for the SFDC Project
  6. Build an Implementation Team
  7. Explore and Clean Your Data and Build a CRM Data Model
  8. Design a Preliminary Prototype and CRM Solution
  9. Migrate your Data
  10. Integrate Salesforce with Other Systems
  11. Identify Areas that Need Customization
  12. Test Your CRM System
  13. Create a Go-Live Scenario
  14. Train and Support Your Employees
  15. Ensure User Adoption and Introduce Additional Functionality.

 

Step#1: Set Salesforce Implementation Goals and Measurable Metrics for Success

 

Start your Salesforce implementation by:

  • Identifying business goals
  • Analyzing customer needs
  • Scanning competitors’ and customers’ activities.

To scope detailed requirements, you should organize requirements workshops. In these workshops, you need to review and prioritize:

  • Functional requirements
  • Data requirements
  • UI requirements
  • Technical requirements.

Document all of them to further discuss with a Salesforce implementation partner. After that, you have to establish CRM objectives, goals, and KPIs.

 

Step#2: Talk to a Salesforce Implementation Consulting Partner

 

Right after identifying all your organization’s pain points and goals, talk to a Salesforce implementation consultant like Ascendix.

They will suggest a better approach taking into consideration all nuances of your industry and organization and help you with:

  • Business case & system gap analysis
  • Salesforce products selection
  • Solving your custom needs with existing AppExchange apps or custom development
  • Optimization of Salesforce pricing (it is a topic of another post, but know that Salesforce offers multiple pricing plans, and not all options are listed on their website. Quite a few options are available only through request and might be offered only by selected Salesforce Consultants)
  • Deciding whether to implement all selected Salesforce Clouds and products at once or one-by-one.

If you have little to no experience or resources for Salesforce implementation, detailed guidance from a Salesforce implementation consultant will save you time on researching and experiencing trials and errors.

 

Step #3: Select your Salesforce Cloud and Analyze its Capabilities

 

Once you’ve consulted a Salesforce expert, you should:

  • Review available Salesforce Clouds, their editions, and functionality
  • Analyze their compliance with your business requirements, desired timeframe, and budget
  • Check their further customization capabilities.

 

Step #4: Define Implementation Risks

 

Identify the most feasible risks of your Salesforce implementation project and how you can mitigate them. Also, at this stage, you need to create a change management plan and re-engineer processes if it’s necessary.

 

Step #5: Set a Timeline and Budget for the SFDC Project

 

Every project is unique like the people who work for it. Consequently, the effort estimation is heavily influenced by a number of factors, including company size, amount of data to import, and required customization. That’s why you need to create business and implementation plans, agree on time and budget to complete the project.

 

Step #6: Build an Implementation Team

 

Select decision-makers within your organization that will represent all aspects of your business, define executive sponsorship, and project leadership. Your implementation team should involve:

  • Sales agents
  • Customer service reps
  • IT experts
  • Marketers
  • General users
  • Business administrators.

 

Step #7: Design Preliminary Prototype of the CRM Solution

 

Organize design workshops to create functional, technical, and UI designs, and document all the details. Review and get feedback on design documentation and agree on acceptance criteria. Build a sandbox that will be a true replica of your production org for future testing purposes.

 

Step #8: Explore and Clean Your Data and Build a CRM Data Model

 

Bad data might tarnish your reputation, influence your results, or even lead to serious issues with the law if you fail to comply with local regulations (GDPR for European Union customers, CCPA for Californians, and others).

Be prepared to work with your data before importing it to Salesforce. Audit your data sources to determine the quantity and quality, complexity, and diversity of your records. Then analyze and review data for gaps, errors, and duplicates across all objects (accounts, contacts, leads, etc.), and perform data cleansing, consolidation, and deduplication.

We also recommend to:

  • Use email verification tools to validate emails
  • Consider hiring a data engineer to automate data cleansing and deduplication if you have lots of data
  • Use data enrichment tools to get the essential information
  • Make sure you can differentiate clients, partners, leads, etc.

 

Step #9: Migrate your Data

 

During this step, you’ll decide how to migrate your data to Salesforce and validate its success. Organize a data migration workshop where you’ll plan data transfer and field mapping to a new system in detail.

Also, think about the corporate policies on how you’ll ensure data protection and health, along with data cleansing automation, in a new CRM platform.

Make sure that you’ve made data backup prior to migration.

 

Step #10: Integrate Salesforce with Other Systems

 

Salesforce integrates with multiple products. There are over 3,000 apps built specifically for Salesforce users, and it might take quite some time to identify the right tools. Evaluate all tools and systems that will be linked to Salesforce and check how well they can work together.

Check if you can integrate solutions smoothly by API or you’ll need third-party connectors or custom coding.

Professional Salesforce consultants can usually recommend the best apps to solve your challenges instead of forcing you to invest in unnecessary customization.

 

Step #11: Identify Areas that Need Configurations and Customization

 

Understand out-of-the-box Salesforce functionality and how it can be best improved: via feature configuration or custom coding.

Think of the certain items that you can optimize to improve your CRM performance like:

  • Form design
  • Fields
  • Objects
  • List views or filters
  • Reports
  • Dashboards
  • Data search
  • User security.

As well as business processes and functions that you can modify, like:

  • Workflow automation
  • Mass records updates
  • Validation rules
  • Sharing rules
  • Security permissions
  • Data tracking etc.
  • Approval process.

On this Salesforce implementation step, you may also onboard a marketing team to set up campaigns and events.

If you decided to buy Marketing Cloud, Pardot for marketing automation, or one of the marketing automation tools from AppExchange, then it is an additional project which involves Pardot/Marketing Cloud consultants and your Marketing team.

 

Step #12: Test Your CRM System

 

Prepare test scripts to perform final user acceptance testing and ensure that everything is working correctly. Check if:

  • All the data migrated correctly
  • All assigned data fields are recognized and fillable
  • Mail addresses are associated with the correct contacts
  • Two-way email sync works as expected, etc.

This Salesforce implementation approach will guarantee that you, your team, and your partners gain a complete alignment with your CRM.

 

Step #13: Create a Go-Live Scenario

 

Give yourself time to build and test different scenarios before the final Salesforce rollout. Generally, small projects can be launched all at once.

However, for larger, more complex projects, it’s recommended to launch Salesforce implementation in several phases. It will give your employees time to adjust to a new system and master a portion of new functionality.

 

Step #14: Train and Support Your Employees

 

Training is an essential part of a Salesforce implementation project because it guarantees that the adoption rate of the program will be much higher. This, in turn, ensures that your team continues to use the software properly. To train your users properly, you should:

  • Organize group training, team sessions, and ongoing training to ensure everyone knows how to use the tool.
  • Provide online demos or videos with walkthroughs on how to use the platform after the training is completed.
  • Encourage joining Salesforce Trailhead, the free educational platform from Salesforce with hundreds of free courses /”trails”.
  • Set up knowledge-sharing sessions and workshops to reinforce training for admins who will be on the front line of your CRM deployment and adoption.

 

Step #15: Ensure User Adoption and Introduce Additional Functionality

 

CRM adoption means that your stakeholders use your CRM software confidently, log in it regularly, and feel that their workflows have become much easier.

But Salesforce implementation doesn’t end when everybody is comfortable with the software. Your business is constantly changing, and your CRM must adapt to it as well.

After the first cycle of a Salesforce rollout, you might want to extend the system or alter your customizations.

To maximize efficiency, you need to keep an open mind and take regular feedback from users, assess your CRM system, and adjust functionality as needed.

Our 7 Fit-for-All Salesforce Cloud Implementation Best Practices

For over 20 years of Salesforce consulting, our experts have collected a set of recommendations on how to launch and drive implementation projects. Among them:

Tip #1: Have a Balanced Approach

To succeed with Salesforce implementation, first off, you must have a balanced approach that focuses on the technology design, the people that are going to use it, and the processes that are to be supported by the system.

Wes Snow, the CEO & Founder at Ascendix Technologies

We’ve applied this best practice to all our projects, but one of the most illustrative examples is our Salesforce customization project for Source Energy Partner.

About Source Energy Partners

 

Source Energy Partners is an oil and gas mineral and royalty acquisition company in Dallas, TX.

 

The Project Challenge

 

Source Minerals purchases oil and gas mineral rights and royalties, as well as providing exceptional investment opportunities for their clients.

They asked Ascendix to customize Salesforce so they could track mineral buying activities and use GIS (geographic information system) right in their CRM software.

 

The Solution

 

After a discovery call, it became clear that we can customize our existing solution for commercial real estate brokers on top of Salesforce AscendixRE to speed up delivery and cut costs for Source Energy Partners.

As a result, we were able to develop a custom solution faster and for a fraction of the initial budget.

Check more details about this project and its results in our case study

 

Tip #2: Take Phased Approach

 

Take a phased approach. Trying to accommodate too many requirements in the initial phase can unnecessarily protract the rollout, complicate the user interface and impact user adoption. Moreover, it is normal for perspectives to change as usage of the system expands which often times increases the wisdom of design decisions for future Salesforce implementation phases.

Wes Snow, the CEO & Founder at Ascendix Technologies

Tip #3: Get Feedback on All Levels

I think the biggest deciding factor of Salesforce implementation success is feedback from all levels.  If the admins and brokers are not allowed to give feedback, then we find that day-to-day needs are not met by the Salesforce functionality.  Also, if management doesn’t have a voice, then we aren’t able to provide them the reports they need.

Marissa Mills, a Salesforce Consultant at Ascendix Technologies

Tip #4: Build a Salesforce Implementation Team of True Experts

Involve those that are going to use the system throughout the implementation life cycle.  This includes management, end-users and support staff who need to have their "fingerprints" on the solution to get buy in and ensure the application supports all aspects of the business.

Wes Snow, the CEO/Founder at Ascendix Technologies

A great influence on the success of Salesforce implementation has an executive sponsor on the client side who has impact on their organization, who can possess both technical skills and has enough business and workflow knowledge of how the users will interact with Salesforce.

Chris Petersen, the Senior Salesforce Consultant at Ascendix

Tip #5: Have Realistic Estimation of the Project Timeline and Budget

The length of deployment is driven largely by the scope of the engagement but all things considered. If you've done an adequate job of putting a deployment roadmap in place, a viable Phase 1 Salesforce implementation should target a range from 3 to 6 months for moderately complex implementations. There are exceptions to this rule of thumb (especially for the smaller engagements of fewer than 10 users) and it should be noted that this timeframe is relating to the first of what may be a multi-phase project.

Wes Snow, the CEO/Founder at Ascendix Technologies

It depends on the client and the scope of the project, but I would say for smaller projects with little customizations and a straightforward data import, maybe 3-4 weeks.  For the larger projects, it can take several months to a year to really just get through Salesforce implementation phase 1.

Marissa Mills, a Salesforce Consultant at Ascendix

Tip #6: Encourage Data Hygiene

Data is also a big part of successful Salesforce implementation. No Salesforce will start off day 1 with no data.  It usually needs to be brought in from another system or from spreadsheets. If this data isn’t cleansed or up to date, it is useless.  Sometimes data is an afterthought for our clients, and it needs to be front and center.

Marissa Mills, a Salesforce Consultant at Ascendix

I can't stress enough the importance of taking time to prepare the data to assure the usability of the tool for you and your future team. This investment of time was key if I wanted to build the best database in my market. I truly believe a database that is highly organized with my market intelligence will lead to more deals. A quick tip to expedite the process, create a master spreadsheet to organize all of your data into one source file giving you the ability to not only identify duplicates faster but to establish links between record types such as companies and leases.

Rob Sattler, the Principal at CRESA New York

The system is only as good as the data contained in the application. While time-intensive, an appropriate amount of time and attention to detail needs to be spent on gathering a data set that will provide valuable insight from the application during the initial stages of the deployment. To the extent possible, a CRM implementation should refrain from starting off with an empty database.

Wes Snow, the CEO/Founder at Ascendix Technologies

Tip #7: Ensure User Adoption

Some of the key factors for effective Salesforce implementation, in my opinion, are managing expectations of what is to be delivered (not making assumptions about functions of product), frequent communication: weekly meetings, status updates, budget updates and not trying to solve for all things, but delivering solutions to the key areas that will increase productivity, efficiency and ultimately revenue.

Chris Petersen, the Senior Salesforce Consultant at Ascendix

Why a Consultant is Vital for Successful CRM System Implementation?

 

Based on the Salesforce report, its customers noticed a 25% increase in marketing ROI, 25% growth in sales, and 35% increase in customer satisfaction rate after CRM implementation.

But to achieve this result, your Salesforce solution should be fully tuned to your needs and adopted by your organization. To maximize the success of Salesforce implementation, you need to engage with a Salesforce consulting partner.

CRM consultants will:

  • Analyze your current sales and business processes
  • Recommend you the best Salesforce implementation and optimization strategies
  • Advise you on the most suitable Salesforce editions and Clouds
  • Train your team on how to set and configure basic features
  • Consult on the best user adoption plans to ensure that your employees are comfortable with using their Salesforce software.

If you have difficulties with a CRM implementation or just want to make sure that you are on the right track with your migration from Salesforce Classic to Salesforce Lightning, our expert team of Salesforce implementation consultants will be happy to assist you with all Salesforce implementation services like:

  • Salesforce implementation from scratch
  • Re-implementation, optimization, or adoption of Salesforce CRM after years of usage
  • Migration to Salesforce Lightning.

Why you can rely on Ascendix in Salesforce implementation services?

  • We have 20-year expertise in Salesforce CRM consulting, deployment, customization, and custom development and have positive references from more than 200+ clients.
  • Our extensive expertise in various industries guarantees an understanding of your niche CRM requirements.
  • We will offer your project our complete set of technical skills confirmed by internationally recognized certification.
  • Our global delivery capacity will ensure competitive cost structures with blended or offshore staffing models.

Ready to start with us? Get your custom quote on Salesforce implementation cost and timeline.

Or read what our client from Visintainer Group is saying about our services:

I started off looking for software that would fit my vision about six years ago and didn't feel anything worked, so I hired programmers to build my own. It started to get very expensive due to all the changes, having to build it from scratch, and the hours needed. That is how I found Ascendix - they were willing to put the time into Salesforce customizing, finding a solution, and not just telling me I had to work in their box since so many others do.

Brett Visintainer, the Owner of Visintainer Group

Get the List of Salesforce Consulting & Development Services Offered by Ascendix

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Salesforce Implementation FAQ

What is Involved in a Salesforce Implementation?

Salesforce implementation involves the following activities: business and system requirements collection, Salesforce Cloud and edition selection, data migration, system integration, CRM configuration, and customization, user training.

How Do You Manage Implementation in Salesforce?

There are three options on how to manage Salesforce implementation: self-managed (you manage all CRM implementation activities, semi-managed (you split project management with an implementation partner), managed (your Salesforce consulting partner drives the project).

How Much is Salesforce Implementation?

Salesforce implementation can cost from $4, 000 to $100,000 depending on the number of products to implement, licenses, configurations, and customizations needed, and the overall complexity of the project. The Salesforce QuickStart implementation cost for small organizations (up to 10 users) can range from $4,000 to $15, 000.

How Long Does It Take to Implement Salesforce?

It takes from 10 hours to 1 year to implement Salesforce. Organizations with up to 10 users, can set up basic Salesforce products like Sales Cloud and Service Cloud in 2-3 weeks and more advanced like CPQ Cloud in 2 months.

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Tommie C. Lloyd

Thanks, I enjoyed reading this blog. It was informational content. It might be helpful in case you are looking for Salesforce implementation services

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