3 Foolproof Ways to Avoid Having to Hire a Salesforce Consulting Partner
This probably isn't the type of thing you thought you'd ever read in a Salesforce Partner's Blog, but hear me out!
Having Salesforce as the core customer database in your system can be an unbelievably powerful tool to build meaningful relationships with your customers that your competition just doesn't have.
Here at Liquid, we often liken Salesforce to a flashy new car. Its stunning design turns heads, its powerful engine takes off quickly from the lights, and it has a top speed matched only by Formula 1 cars. It's also extremely fuel efficient considering its power output! However, and this is the critical part, if I fill the tank up with salt water, I'm not going to get any benefit at all from the car, just an even bigger bill trying to fix it! This is no fault of the car itself, and I'd be silly to try and push the blame onto the manufacturer. The same goes for your Salesforce system. You can have the biggest and most intricate custom solution implemented directly into the World's #1 CRM, but if it's not maintained properly it can cause more headaches than it's worth, and you may find yourself paying some quite serious money to Salesforce Partners to help you to fix it.
Over the years as a Salesforce Consultant, there's a few costly mistakes that I see quite frequently. The worst part for the client is that these things are often preventable. That's why I'm putting this article together - hopefully we get a call from your business letting us know you are running smoothly as a result of this advice, rather than a call asking us for help!
1. Crap Data In, Crap Data Out. Don't Crap In Your Data!
Just like filling up your new car with salt water, do you really want to be pulling the same troublesome data into Salesforce with the hope that it will magically become better? There's work involved in migrating from other systems, quite often including a manual cleanse of your data. It may take a while, but trust me when I say that it's far less time upfront than it will be in hindsight (and a LOT cheaper!).
If you're about to move your old data into Salesforce then you have an opportunity to stop, analyse, clean it, and recognise common mistakes of the past. Salesforce has some brilliant features that can be used to prevent your data from becoming messy. You can set up Validation Rules to ensure that complete and accurate data is populated in your records. You can use Process Builder to restructure your Phone numbers so they all follow the same format, or to enforce a record naming convention on your Opportunities. As I said before, it's important to recognise existing bad data habits and try to break them as early as possible to ensure your data is kept clean from day one.
2. Training, Training, Training
Using the car analogy once more - after buying your fancy car, would you put your 2 year old child behind the wheel? I think not! They haven't had a single driving lesson in their life! Exactly the same thing goes for Salesforce. Now, I know that we're living in a wonderful era of beautifully designed software and fairly common knowledge around how to use this software, but that doesn't mean that training is any less important, especially if you have a custom solution developed for you. Pushing your users onto the system without first having training will hinder the adoption of the system, upset your users, and potentially cause issues with your business data. It's best to get your users some training, preferably hands-on (often in a Sandbox environment where they can play around themselves with no repercussions) before introducing them to the live environment.
3. Beware/Embrace The Avalanche Effect
I will never be able to say this enough - it is absolutely critical that your business's CEO, your directors, your senior management team are invested in your Salesforce implementation, adoption, and long term success. If management is not involved from the beginning, and they aren't trained properly, they may soon begin to loathe the system. This loathing will cause grief for their subordinates, which will be channeled into a resentment for Salesforce, which has an avalanche effect from the top of your business all the way down. There's no success coming out of a system that the business resents.
This is why it is so important to get management onboard, invested, excited, and fully supporting Salesforce from day one. You'll find that instead of resentment avalanching down your business, there will likely be a positive mindset and practical knowledge shared from the top down.
The reality is simple - you will be engaging with Salesforce Partners and other Salesforce Professionals throughout your journey with the platform. There will be Partners who are looking to sell you a support package to add a new User, and not engage your staff at all. On the other side, there are Partners who will build long term relationships with your business, get to know your operations, make friends with your staff, and teach you the skills you need to ensure success on the Platform. I'd like to think Liquid are one of the latter - we take pride not only in the work we do, but in the work your staff are able to do after we've worked with them.