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Salesforce.com Secrets of Success: Executive Summary

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Learn how CRM can transform your marketing effectiveness, improve sales win rates, and increase customer loyalty.
This chapter is from the book

Why should you bother reading this chapter?

How about competitive excellence? Lower customer churn? Higher win rates? Visibility? This chapter wasn’t written to sell you Salesforce.com (SFDC), but it will convince you that customer relationship management (CRM) can make more of a difference to your profitability than any other type of enterprise software. How much more profit can you get out of your supply chain optimization going forward? Do you really think that your accounting or HR package is going to give you a couple of extra points of margin and several more points of revenue growth?

CRM can. Done right, CRM can transform your marketing effectiveness, improve sales win rates, and increase customer loyalty—all at the same time. Although a CRM system’s impact is more about revenue increases than cost reductions, it can do both.

Problem is, “done right” is rare. This book exists because killer CRM systems are counterintuitive, with projects that look nothing like traditional IT.

What Every CxO Needs to Know about Salesforce.com

SFDC is the right choice for most companies who want an easy-to-use and flexible salesforce automation (SFA) or CRM system. Here are seven things you need to know about it:

  • User adoption is everything: If it doesn’t hold solid data, the SFDC system is an empty shell. More users mean more data in the system, and more data mean a better view of the customer situation. So your first job is to make sure that users adopt the system. Communicate verbally and through behavior that you will be relying on the system to make management decisions—and you expect people at every level to do the same. A key success factor for your SFDC implementation is the way employees perceive how you use the system and value its data. If they sense you don’t care about it or don’t believe in it, neither will they. Provide rewards for early adopters, and use the system yourself.
  • Bad data entries are your nemesis: Duplicates, low-quality data, and lost entries are to be avoided at all costs, as they hurt user adoption, undermine system credibility, and can even undermine your credibility. The key here: don’t skimp on data migration, integration, and automation projects that stop bad data at the source. Set aside a serious budget to get as much customer-relationship data as possible stored in SFDC, or at least make it accessible from there.
  • Visibility is your first benefit: Once users are really on the system, SFDC provides you much more visibility into what’s going on with prospects and customers. It gives you better early warning signals for forecast, pipeline, and customer satisfaction problems. It also gives you clear metrics and real-time dashboards for achievement versus goals. Invest in the integration that gives you a 360-degree view of the business. Provide incentives for predictability.
  • Management by exception is your goal: The best way to manage your time is to use management by exception (MBE). By taking the “normal” for granted, you can focus on the variances where you can make a difference. SFDC provides dashboards, alerts, workflows, and approval processes that facilitate compliance and managing to a plan. Set realistic goals, relevant metrics, timely thresholds, and clear employee incentives that match the desired behavior. Once you have a reliable, accurate base of information to work with, you can streamline and accelerate business processes—and then manage to them. Reward autonomy so that your organization learns that management by emergency (the “squeaky wheel” effect) is not how you’re running the company anymore.
  • Strategy is the crown: Who are your most profitable customers, and why? Which products do they buy from you, and what are the reasons they prefer doing business with you? Where do you need to be investing more, and where can you economize on marketing, selling, and support efforts? These questions can be answered only when you have a database of customer purchase patterns and a history of behaviors. The answers will be just guesses and gut feelings until your CRM system serves as the foundation for strategic analysis.
  • Be careful about what you say: Everyone in your organization will be on the alert because CRM systems come with a bit of political baggage—the “Big Brother” effect. Sales reps aren’t asking to be automated, and nobody wants to be micromanaged. If your staff senses that your real goal is to more tightly monitor them, all the good things that a CRM system can do for your company will be delayed or even nullified. Even though the following words may have the same abstract meaning, what your people will hear from the two lists is drastically different:

    Do talk about:

    Don’t talk about:

    Bigger deals

    Higher productivity

    Happier customers

    Tighter management

    Less wasted effort

    Automation or cost control

    Improved business processes

    Job elimination

    Easier goal achievement


    Tools employees need

    Comprehensive system

    If employees sense that you’re using the SFDC system to unify your company and make it more coherent and coordinated, they will follow your example. But if they sense that you’re going to use the system to lay blame or fuel political battles, they will subtly sabotage the system as they would any enemy.

  • Publicize the good news: It’s been proven many times that the organization will follow your lead in regard to the SFDC system. Post on chatter1 daily. Really. Celebrate the good things that the system is doing for the business every quarter while it’s being built and extended. Tell the board about your successes, tell your peers about the benefits, and tell your subordinates about the customer wins made possible by SFDC. Get the news out about how CRM is reshaping your business and giving your team a strategic advantage.
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