Why Do Some Salesforce Implementations Fail?

We’re big fans of Salesforce. We love how powerful and nimble it is. Its flexible capabilities have allowed us to build our own product, SuMo, right into it, permitting us to help our customers generate more revenue from their existing sales resources. (#shamelessplug)

We love how it can completely transform the way businesses are run – by automating tedious tasks,  providing a complete view of the customers and accelerating productivity for the workforce.

Yes, when done right, Salesforce has all the tools we need to help our business grow.

Still, tales of inexistent ROI, poor user adoption and frustrating limitations are ripe amongst many of its users.

Even with so much investment destined to securing a good implementation, why do some companies succeed whilst others fall flat on their faces?


But First, Some Good News…

A recent report published by Ebsta (Ebsta Salesforce Usage Report 2019) states that usage of this CRM platform is on the up; with 72% of users accessing Salesforce daily and spending at least 3 hours a day undertaking some sort of activity in the system.

Surprisingly, they also cite user adoption challenges to have been reduced by a whopping 80% in the last year, due in part to the introduction of the new Lightning UI.

On the priority list for implementation managers, we still find the usual suspects: a desire to improve productivity and increase data quality, and a need to automate certain processes.

So, it would appear that the latest investment in user interface, AI and automation is starting to have a positive impact on Salesforce user adoption.

However, we’re still feeling the pinch of poor data quality and the difficulty and expense when attempting to build the platform around our own specific sales process.


Why salesforce implementations fail


Why Do Some Salesforce Implementations Fail?

No two implementations are the same. There are many aspects to take into account when rolling out a tool of such titanic proportions.  Cultural fit, varying processes or even the size of the business all play a part in the probability of success or failure.

In today’s post, we look at 6 common reasons why Salesforce implementations fail.


1. Employees Don’t See the Value:

One of the main reasons Salesforce implementations fail is also one of the least acknowledged – the end-user sees no personal value in the tool.

If we’re asking our sales reps to use Salesforce every day, we have to make sure we’re building the system around their needs. And that we’re making this intent very obvious to our employees.

There’s a popular misconception that CRM systems are in their nature a management tool. A very sophisticated way to put tabs on what employees are doing, how much and for how long.

But one of the main favourable attributes of Salesforce is the dearth of functionality built to increase productivity, enhance the sales journey and help salespeople meet their targets.

These outcomes should be at the heart of the implementation. So, before rolling out the system, ask yourself:

‘How can I make my reps’ lives easier?’

And if you don’t know, ask them.


2. Poor Communication:

Which leads us nicely to number two on our list of epic fails. Poor communication.

And this rings true on both sides of the fence.

On the one hand,  we find implementation managers working in isolation, creating a tool that answers what he/she thinks are the needs of the organisation. On the other, we find a team that has no say over what will become their bread & butter, and that is given very little background on it, too.

Poor communication is a debilitating flaw in the long run. But luckily, it’s not a difficult fix.

Ensure that in every stage of the process – be it planning, rollout or everyday use – you keep an open channel of discussion with your end-user.

Ask for feedback, watch how they use the system and learn from any negative reactions.


3. Limited Investment on Tools:

Hey, I’m with you. Salesforce is an expensive bit of kit. So, when the time comes to go ask the boss for more budget for a new piece of functionality that will make it work really, really well (promise!) we’re often greeted with a grumpy face and a slammed door.

But, we have to accept that Salesforce is only the foundation for sales growth. To really start seeing results, you have to put some money towards those bells and whistle that can make it really sing.

Luckily, we’re spoiled for choice.

We have a blog listing some cool apps on the AppExchange that really make Salesforce work. But you can find endless options on the marketplace itself.


best appexchange apps on salesforce


4. Lack of Stakeholder Support:

How can we expect our sales force to adopt a system our Stakeholders hardly believe in?

Before attempting to gain user adoption, your number one priority should be getting top-down backing.

For the system to be successful, it needs the support and belief of the entire organisation. Having strong backing from the senior department will facilitate the speed of change, as decision-makers will be more open to spending budget on a tool they actually believe will have an impact on revenue.

We need people to pull together rather than push away. At all levels of the business.


5. No Clear Champion:

Even though we’re asking to be backed by the entire organisation, we need to have one clear champion (or team of champions) that will put their arms around this and make the implementation and later maintenance their only job.

It needs to be somebody’s role to take ownership of its success and responsibility for its failure.

If you don’t have the budget to hire a dedicated Salesforce admin, at least nominate somebody in the organisation for the role.


A Good Salesforce Champion Should Be:

  1. Result-driven and business-minded
  2. Have a strong analytical eye
  3. Be technically able
  4. Able to communicate well with a diverse range of business users
  5. Has a “can-do” attitude and positive outlook
  6. Always willing and able to help those in need
  7. Provide constructive feedback to both users and technical teams


6. Insufficient Training:

Ever heard the saying ‘all the gear, no idea’…?

Don’t fall into the trap of building an extremely impressive CRM system that only a few understand. This tool is vast and complex and will only prove useful to the team if they know how to get the best from the platform. Offer training that is simple, clear, timely and interesting to every user.


Why Some Salesforce Implementations Fail


Before making any decision or installing any features, think hard about your process, needs and team’s culture. Work out what you want your end goal to be and then work your way back from there.

And remember, simplicity and ease of use will always work to your advantage.


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