By: Deb Well
PAICR Board of Directors member
PAICR Member since 2006
Salesforce seems to have been slowly taking over asset management (and the world for that matter) as the CRM of choice. If you aren’t currently using it—chances are you already went through a project where you considered using it—or are going through such due diligence now. Here are some important factors to consider that also apply even if your firm is already using it.
Lightning vs. Classic
Chances are if you are a current user, you are probably still using Classic Salesforce. Even though the latest incarnation of Salesforce—the Lightning experience—debuted back in 2015, many firms are still using Classic. Part of the reason of course is that it is hard to motivate a Sales Team that loves it “as is” to change. But equally as important is that when Salesforce rolled out Lightning, it didn’t have all the same functionality built in yet. Salesforce upgrades its software three times a year and yet, for instance, until the Spring 2017 version you still needed to hop over to Classic to merge duplicate contacts or accounts. If you are just now converting, you should go to Lightning straight out. If you are still on Classic—be sure to keep checking the releases to pick an optimal time to convert.
Build after, not before
How many times have you done a customization to your CRM … spent tons of time and money in development … only to see it go under-utilized once you roll it out? Quite often it is because the actual users are not driving the changes. One of the upsides to Salesforce is that a lot of potential customization is relatively quick and easy to execute and deploy—a benefit of the so-called “code-less customization environment”. Rather than asking users up front what they want to have, consider rolling out with the basics and have your users “test drive” for a few months. Actively using the product—especially in multiple environments (browser and mobile app)—will help highlight actual pain points for your users and hence where customization would make their lives easier. This way you can spend time developing things your users actually want as opposed to things people think they want.
There really is an app for that
A mapping tool? An email marketing tool? A tool to make mass updates to your data? Yes—there is an app for that. In fact, multiple apps! One important thing to understand is that Salesforce is not just a CRM. Much like Apple with iOS, Salesforce has become a platform. There are many developers out there creating solutions and offering them through the App Exchange. Most of the major software players in our industry have worked up integration solutions with Salesforce. So, before you decide to do internal development for any solution, first take a look at what might be offered on the App Exchange that might fit. It could be cheaper (or even free) than building something yourself.
It’s all about adoption
Why do most CRM solutions fail? Because of lack of end-user adoption. The upside of Salesforce is that it’s not only generally pretty easy to use, but the platform understands that adoption is key to successful implementation and so it has built tools to help solve the adoption issue. There are webinars and even an app specifically for Salesforce administration designed to help those on the support side keep on top of user engagement. You can see if your users are logging in—or not. If they have an issue, you can log in under their ID to see what they are seeing. Salesforce encourages spending time checking in and even sitting with users so that admins can see where there might be issues or places where the admin can give the users tips to be more efficient. Salesforce promotes better understanding of usage so that you can create better solutions for your end users. And they have an entire site—Trailhead—devoted to educating Admins, Developers and Business Users, which is free to use even if you aren’t a Salesforce customer.
Is Salesforce perfect? No. There is no CRM tool that is perfect. In fact, in terms of structure, they do some things that will look very different to many seasoned DBAs. But it is currently the largest player in our industry. However, you shouldn’t be using Salesforce because of this fact. (For those of you who have been around long enough to remember the industry dominance of the Siebel CRM, you will understand the caution here). That being said,- given the integration options it offers with many of the industry’s other vendors, the wide array of apps available for enhancements, and its mobile options, it makes sense to review it as a possible option, with the above tips in mind.