Firstly, I would like to start with the question “Why do companies invest in Salesforce?”. This may seem like a simple question but it lies at the heart of how companies can derive value from their investment.
Salesforce provides the ability to capture, organize and leverage information to make better decisions across all departments within a company.
Yet, deploying a CRM solution that delivers real business value can be challenging.
For many enterprises, Salesforce is a core tool, not a peripheral one. It's central to sales, service and marketing functions. In most cases, it is being deployed as the primary platform to drive key business processes.
Digital transformation is also now a priority for many companies. As a result, there has never been a bigger focus on digitising and automating processes and workflows in order to increase revenues and/or reduce costs.
Salesforce is a great platform for companies to achieve success and continues to evolve to ensure that it meets the needs of its customers. Despite this, enterprises still struggle to extract value from existing or planned investments.
Companies invest in Salesforce because of all the possibilities. Sometimes, however, senior execs have a preconception of what the promised land looks like. Everything will go smoothly - teams are aligned, processes optimised and automated, external systems integrated without a hitch, et cetera, et cetera. Yet, this is an unrealistic viewpoint and often, sophistication equates to complexity.
“Aligning your business to a digital-first strategy can have enormous benefit, you also need to be aware that the rate of transformation failure is high. Research consistently shows the number one reason for failure is “lack of active and engaged executive sponsors” and the second reason for failure is “lack of structure around the program of change”.” - Salesforce
The possibilities with the platform still exist but companies struggle to measure and track the value of their Salesforce investment from the start - check out this excellent Salesforce post on best practices to capture value from your investment.
For those executive sponsors who are active and engaged, do they know what metrics they want to measure and improve from the outset? Do the metrics align with and drive business outcomes at the top?
The key is to understand what you are trying to achieve, how you are trying to achieve it and how your current or future implementation of Salesforce can help you get there.
For instance, an insurance company wants to improve the profitability of its Insurance Portfolio. What metrics should it start to measure? One metric, for example, could be to increase the average time to settle a claim. How does improving this metric impact the cost per claim? What overall effect does this have on the profitability of the portfolio? You get the picture.
On the other hand, for clients, whose Salesforce Orgs are operating at a high level and focused on digital transformation initiatives, it is difficult to stay on top of all the new technological innovations. Furthermore, integrating existing systems and/or new platforms can be complex and challenging. Making sure the architecture design is stable and scalable becomes key to success.
The Sloth and the Dolphin Model - Where does your Org sit?
When clients contact us, their Salesforce Org’s generally fall into two groups - what I like to call “The Sloth and the Dolphin model”.
The ‘Sloth’ and the ‘Dolphin’ are both intelligent creatures in their own ways. Yet, when we think about it in terms of Salesforce Orgs, there are significant differences.
‘The Sloth’ Model
The Sloth is perfectly designed for its environment. It has incredible spatial memory and focuses on the specific skills they need for survival. However, it is recognised throughout the world for being…well… ‘SLOW’.
Like your Salesforce Org - it has been designed for a specific reason and is fit for purpose. Yet, many of our clients come to us because their Salesforce Org is being underutilized.
Often, the delivery of Orgs happens in a way that does not allow its true value to be realized. There may be many reasons for this.
Businesses struggle with pre-and post-implementation processes all the time. From the outset, successful implementations need proper planning and preparation. You can achieve this through a Discovery phase, where a partner gathers requirements and gets a full understanding of your business needs and current challenges.
It is also imperative that there is buy-in from senior management and stakeholders, backed by a realistic budget. When the implementation begins, each person on the project should be aware of their role. They need to understand how they will support the project and ensure the success of the implementation.
The Org, itself, may lack automation; processes and workflows are not mapped out; there are underlying issues with user adoption - in any respect, it’s slowing down progress. Letting the implementation or currently deployed solution ride as-is only increases frustration with end-users and management alike.
Like a ‘Sloth’, your Salesforce Org is stuck in stealth mode.
Nonetheless, with the right intervention, your Org can be super-charged, ready to accelerate onto the Salesforce superhighway’
‘The Dolphin’ Model
On the other side, we have the ‘Dolphin’. Renowned for their intelligence, speed and agility, Dolphins also have incredible social and communication skills.
Like Dolphins, we have clients whose Salesforce Org’s are now streamlined and functioning at an optimal level. Their teams are on board, information is flowing and they’re able to react to changes in real-time.
Yet, these clients want to stay at the cutting-edge of innovation, continue to grow their offering and extend their Org with additional Salesforce products. They want to stay at the forefront of all the technologies and tools Salesforce has to offer.
This is where a ‘Center of Excellence (CoE)” can be a game-changer. A CoE monitors the effectiveness of the solution and discusses the future roadmap and/or the backlog of enhancement requests from the business. They decide what requests are accepted or what strategic decisions concerning the solution should be made and will then prioritise them.
In general, the CoE will investigate how they can further improve their use and value of Salesforce. You can read more about how a Center of Excellence operates here.
Agents of Change
Your current Salesforce Org may seem like a ‘Sloth’ or a ‘Dolphin’, or somewhere in-between, but that doesn't mean it can't be transformed or even taken to the next level. At Merkle, we see ourselves as ‘agents of change’.
It’s important to use a partner who doesn’t ‘tick-the-box’ - they should challenge clients’ assumptions and look at different ways to approach the solution to optimise value. In addition to guiding you through the Salesforce implementation process, they should have a clear vision for how the platform may improve your business.
Through discovery sessions, they should complete technical reviews of your Salesforce Org. They should identify, improve and optimise components, processes, workflows and integrations. It’s also critical to understand what metrics you are looking to enhance and align them with the business outcomes of the company.
Through visual aids and prototypes, stakeholders can explore, experience and test the usability of the solution before deployment.
It’s important to investigate where automation can speed up the flow of information. MuleSoft consultants, like Merkle’s, can help scale and integrate Salesforce with other external systems and platforms. This can provide you with a full 360 view of your customers.
Yet, deploying new technology takes time and cannot be done overnight or ‘out-of-the-box’. Onboarding teams and deploying your solution can be a laborious process. This is where a partner can help with the transition, with a focus on ‘Change Management'.
Change management is crucial to deriving value from your investment. Having the ability to measure, track and analyse changes allows you to gather more data to improve processes and optimise your deployment even more.
An integral part of change management is the ability to train and onboard employees so they adopt the solution. Again, this is where a partner can shine. Through User Acceptance Testing and proven User Adoption Strategies, they can help ensure the successful rollout of your solution.
For those companies looking to advance their Salesforce Org and take it a step further, having a Center of Excellence in place, with the right team, structures and processes around your Salesforce program can make a huge difference. When it comes to seeing a higher return on your Salesforce investment, a CoE is a powerful way for the organisation to align around Salesforce and their business goals.
Whether your Org is a ‘Sloth’ or a ‘Dolphin’, if you are ready to take your Salesforce investment to the next level, let’s have a chat today.