Managing culture change with Salesforce implementation projects

The need for cultural change

Changing company culture can be tricky, it's not easy to get right and can take some time for change to truly take root. Company culture is defined by the beliefs, values and especially the actions of the people that work there. In this article, we'd like to focus on five key behaviours that will contribute to a successful Salesforce implementation.

We have identified these behaviours based on implementing over 100 Salesforce CRM projects in Dubai. We hope that by sharing this information here it will help companies to put in place some steps to address these cultural considerations before they start implementing a CRM system. 

1. All data & insight should to be added to Salesforce 

There is often a belief among salespeople that the data that they collect and use in their day to day job belongs to them; the contacts that they meet, the information that they gather from meetings and the general insight that they gain on prospects. We disagree, and strongly advocate that that this information belongs to the company, and should be stored in the CRM. 

Before the implementation of Salesforce (when data was kept in spreadsheets), it's been relatively easy for salespeople to keep this information to themselves, and then take it with them if they leave the business. This behaviour needs to be changed so that all data is entered into Salesforce. 

In preparation for a Salesforce implementation, it's a good idea to consider what the company culture is with regards to general customer and sales information. A good starting point would be to ask the question,

If your entire sales team walked out in the morning, what information would you have left on your customers and active sales opportunities? 


2. Make decisions based on evidence & data

After the Salesforce implementation has been completed, your sales (and other department) managers will have vast amounts of data at their fingertips. 

The Tenacre consultants can build many standard reports, analytics reports or dashboards to present information. The challenge for your organisation is to interpret & use this information correctly in a way that leads to better decision making. The culture of the business needs to include rational, evidence based decisions. 

For management teams, the information that they can see in Salesforce is a real asset, but only if they understand the information correctly. We have observed our most successful clients continually evolving the reports that they use, often drilling into finer details so that they can identify the root cause of certain outcomes such as sales results. For these reasons Tenacre offers training for executives, and ongoing support (after the CRM has been handed over) that enables new reports and dashboards to be created. With these reports you will be able to ask some fundamental questions such as

Why did we get this outcome (good, bad or indifferent)? What were the actions that led to this outcome? Is there a possibility to change or improve these actions to create better outcomes? 

3. Proactively manage the health of your CRM

Too many CRM or ERP implementations in Dubai don't continue to deliver value after the first 18 months. This is often because companies don't plan or budget for the time and cost to keep the system in good shape after the initial training and handover. This is a critical consideration, and something that needs to be ingrained in the company culture. We are not referring to 'technical support', we are referring to the usefulness of Salesforce and the CRM data within your organisation. 

So how do you track, maintain & improve the health of Salesforce over the long-term?

Our advice is to make the CRM data & processes so important to the business that any drop off in usage or data quality would be highlighted by managers and corrective action taken. 

  • Insist that all sales or marketing review meetings use Salesforce reports and dashboards as the basis for all discussions. Everybody that attends these meetings should bring laptops or tablets so that discussions are based on factual data from the CRM. Ban notebooks and handwritten notes in this meeting.

  • Tenacre will install a 'User Adoption Dashboard' that tracks all users activity on the CRM, including how often the log in, trends on how often records are added and participation on Chatter. Use this dashboard to monitor a 'dip' in use, either by specific users or the entire organisation

  • Share Salesforce data with other departments. For example, sales forecasting reports will be valuable to your production team so that they can prepare for spikes or dips in demand, and then ensure that they plan staff and materials availability accordingly. It's also a good idea to make sales forecast data available to your finance team (Accounts receivable in particular). This allows them to plan cashflow and control sales to customers with poor credit history. It's common that this data sharing can lead to systems integration over time.

  • Work with Tenacre on an annual support agreement. Our long-term clients benefit from meetings with Tenacre consultants on a monthly basis to review the system performance and to highlight any risks or performance issues. Having an external partner like Tenacre proactively looking for issues and taking steps to improve your CRM is an excellent way to achieve long-term value.

  • Make Salesforce an integral part of your HR processes, we cover this in detail below

4. Create HR policies specific to Salesforce

People build culture, and HR is where companies formalise how employees are trained and evaluated. Creating HR policies that specifically relate to CRM usage communicates clearly to new employees that your company has certain expectations and procedures with regards to how they will use Salesforce. 

On-boarding and  off-boarding procedures can be as simple as a checklist of tasks that are to be completed each time a person joins or leaves the business. We have created a sample checklist here to help you get started with this. Some of these tasks will require a system administrator to complete them, and the training will need to be undertaken by either Tenacre or an experienced user of the system. 

We recommend that your employee evaluations should include their performance on Salesforce. This evaluation can be done easily via the 'User Adoption Dashboard' that Tenacre will setup in your system. Tracking performance and highlighting area's of improvement are excellent ways to keep your Salesforce system operating to a high level. 

5. Have a written roadmap for salesforce enhancements 

When you begin the Salesforce implementation, we advise our clients to build the CRM in phases. This approach has many benefits, not least the ability to spread costs out over a longer period of time. From a cultural perspective, a roadmap for future development concentrates the mind of managers to consider how Salesforce can help them achieve their targets. It creates a scenario where managers are thinking about how to improve the business, and how these new processes can be mapped into Salesforce. This is a health cultural change, and it encourages managers to actively invest time thinking about the long-term success of Salesforce. 

A roadmap can be based on achieving certain targets with the existing version of Salesforce before you move on to the next development. We have worked with companies that have successfully implemented Pardot marketing automation, but only when they have been using the Sales Cloud platform for 6 months. In this example, the decision to bring onboard the marketing automation system requires the sales managers and marketing managers to justify how this new platform can create value.