Salesforce implementation - Essential preparation

A Salesforce project can often seem daunting, particularly if you haven't been involved in one before.

Depending on the degree of change that Salesforce will bring to your company, the key to getting the CRM up and running is to prepare thoroughly. While each project that we work on is unique, there are common themes that the team at Tenacre has identified that could help you prepare better before the project kicks off.

1. Identify what 'success' looks like for your Salesforce project

Before you start the Salesforce project, it's essential to know why you're doing this. Try to define in words how you would describe a successful project. For some people, it could mean access to sales activity information in real - time via dashboards and reports. For others, it can mean greater consistency in how the sales team follow through on the company sales process.

Describing successful project outcomes should focus on the bigger topics, you shouldn't delve into the details of how you arrive at these outcomes. Conversely, the description of success shouldn't be so 'big picture' (e.g. AED 5M in sales next month) that it becomes meaningless as a realistic measure of whether the project has been successful or not.

Having this definition of success right at the very beginning of a project helps you to keep everybody focused on what's important.

2. Understand that this isn't an 'IT' project

Salesforce projects (the successful ones) are rarely led or managed by the IT department. While the IT team can add a lot of value to a CRM implementation, it's essential that the sales or marketing leaders own this project to ensure that it's designed to their specific requirements. 

It's important that the users of the CRM (sales staff and sales management) are empowered to design and build the system. A Salesforce project needs to be built around the processes that are unique to the sales staff. The majority of the questions that Tenacre project staff will ask you will only be answerable to the sales team. The IT team simply won't have the sales experience to help the Tenacre consultants to build your CRM in a way that enhances your sales process.

It's common for Salesforce projects that are let by the IT team to be completed in a way that's technically brilliant, and yet useless for improving the sales outcomes. 

3. Understand that this is probably more of a Change Management project

Bringing Salesforce into your company can cause a lot of change in a short space of time. Managing these changes is usually an unplanned activity that companies have to deal with as they implement Salesforce.

We've identified some key change management themes that you should incorporate into your internal processes

  • Empower key members of the team to speak up and make decisions. The people that are closer to a particular process probably know more about it than the project manager
  • Create short term wins to build momentum 
  • Plan long term effort - don't let the project lag after you launch it. You need to keep pushing to ensure that the new processes stick

4. Form your team & appoint people to key roles

The use of even basic project management principles will help you to be better prepared. With most project teams we like to see specific roles being assigned to our client's team. These defined roles help everybody understand who makes decisions, who is involved in planning etc.

The minimum roles that should be defined are:

Project Manager (PM)

The person that is responsible for delivering the project as per the business case. The PM will keep the project moving, making sure that the various deadlines and quality levels are met. They will escalate problems when required, and keep everybody informed of progress.

Project Sponsor

The executive that is sponsoring the project. The sponsor ensures that the goals of the project are aligned with the business strategy. They provide oversight and helps the PM overcome obstacles that may require other departments to provide resources to the project.

Super User (SU)

A superuser is a person that will be using the system on a daily basis once it's deployed. Their role in the project is to add their experience and feedback as the system is being designed, built and tested. The SU's bring the expertise in how the sales process 'really works' and is usually one of the key contributors to the design and testing phase of the project.

The SU will usually take on ongoing responsibility for your Salesforce once the project is completed. They will be often responsible for providing basic system administration such as user management or creating reports.

5. Be Agile & be quick

Tenacre use our own project delivery methodology, we've developed this over the years and it works brilliantly for us. One of the key principles that we work to is to get to the testing phase as soon as possible. What this means for us is that after spending some time defining how the system works in the planning phase, get your project team tearing it up in Beta testing as soon as possible.

If we've done a decent job of designing the solution during the early project phase, the beta testing work will allow your users to incrementally improve the system each day. The feedback that we get during the beta phase is quick and informal, and the Tenacre developers are usually reacting to the feedback within the hour.

6. Start gathering your data

Getting existing data into Salesforce is the single biggest bottleneck that we experience on a project by project basis. Your data will broadly fit into one of the following categories


There isn't a standard way for your company data to be stored. Instead, it exists in iPhones or Android devices, spreadsheets and databases. With unstructured data, there needs to be a cleanup project defined to run either before or alongside the Salesforce project. The quicker that this project begins the less time you'll lose once you are ready to import your data.

Partially structured

Your company data will exist in one or two main locations such as spreadsheets and/or Outlook or mobile phones. The data needs to be gathered, cleaned and unified (duplicates removed) before the data can be imported into Salesforce by Tenacre.

With both unstructured and unstructured data, your Tenacre consultant will help you to plan the data gathering and cleaning project. The key to this exercise is to start as early as possible.


Structured data is typically managed in a database or other system for managing data. While structured data is the cleanest and easiest type of data to use, there is still a project to be completed in identifying the data fields that are to be used and then mapping them into Salesforce. In some instances, the data will need to be 'transformed' prior to importing.

Structured data can be integrated to Salesforce in real time or in bulk uploads on a regular basis. See this article for more information Salesforce Integration with other system.

7. Write down your processes (Keep this simple..)

In most companies, if we asked ten salespeople to define their sales process, we'd get fifteen different answers.

This is because in most companies the process is 'implied' rather than 'explicit'. When it comes to considering your Salesforce project, there are certain processes that need to be defined in detail, such as your sales stages, or lead source tracking.

In 95% of the projects that we work on it's unnecessary to develop workflow schematics in Visio or some other process diagram tool. Instead, if you could start the process of writing the step by step elements of your key process in Excel, this will be enough for your Tenacre consultant to include the key elements into the System Design Document.

8. Don't over complicate or over - automate

It often takes a lot of work to make things simple, but it's worth the effort.

Salesforce offers some incredible workflow automation tools and process builders. The temptation for new users of the system is to try to use as much automation as possible, right from the beginning.

The advice that Tenacre will give you in all aspects of system design is to keep things as simple and minimalist as possible. In fact, one of the first things that we do on a new system is to eliminate the unnecessary data fields and other clutter so that the end user isn't confused by too much unnecessary detail.

Effective use of automation, such as workflow rules and process builders, often come in second or third phases of Salesforce projects. This is because the users get used to how the system works and they can identify the repetitive tasks that can be automated.

9. Prepare for training and system support

If you have a large team that is based in multiple locations, you'll need to make sure that they have the dates and locations for their training agreed well in advance. Tenacre will undertake at least three training sessions with each of our clients, and it's vital that all of the users will attend each session.

If you have some users that don't attend the full training programme (for whatever reason), you will see a poor return on your investment straight away. You will also have to manage two distinct groups of users that have differing levels of competence in using Salesforce. The result of this is that the group with the least Salesforce capability will drag the rest of the company down to their level.

How to overcome this? Publish the training dates for all users four weeks in advance, and make it compulsory to attend. Secondly, consider an additional support package from Tenacre so that any of the users can request on-demand help after the project has been completed and handed over.

10. Leadership - What to do after the project goes live

So you're up and running, the Salesforce project is complete. Now you have a new set of challenges to make sure that the CRM continues to deliver value to your company over the long term. We've observed that companies that have strong leaders responsible for the Salesforce system are far, far more likely to gain the long term value.

What does this behaviour look like?

Takes on feedback

The Salesforce project leader will involve their team and any external staff (finance, operations etc.) in the design and testing phase of the project. Getting feedback and input from the team gives them a sense of ownership of the project.

As the system is live, ensure that a discussion takes place at the weekly or monthly meeting to see if there is anything that the team needs to be added or changed on the CRM. It could be a new product that needs to be added to a price book or could be some additional data field that has now become important to track on the Account object. Whatever it is, make sure that the feedback loop from all users is acted upon quickly, before the system becomes stale and less relevant.

Makes decisions

Getting feedback and acting on it is a great leadership trait. However, not all feedback is worth acting on and decisions must be made whether to incorporate suggested changes. The Salesforce leader will need to consider the impact of these changes on the greater system, not just in the narrower context of how the change may improve the system for a particular user.

Builds consistency

A Salesforce project should reinforce your companies processes. Through dashboards and reports, the Salesforce leader will be able to see if the team are correctly following these processes and identify when there is a dropping off of consistency.

Key activities such as the number of sales meetings per month or the number of new sales opportunities opened per month can be reported in standard dashboards. Using these dashboards during internal meetings sets the standard that these key behaviours are being recorded and measured.

Measures behaviour

The Salesforce leader in your company can keep track of the key activities that the staff should be performing on a daily or weekly basis. Through dashboards and reports, it's easy to see if each member of the team is hitting targets. As the team knows that these specified behaviours are being monitored, you will see a change in how they perform their work.

Makes Salesforce an HR issue

The CRM system in your company should become vital to the operations of the company, this is a strategic platform from which all the sales activity and sales management are recorded and planned. As such, the Salesforce leader in your company should ensure that certain policies are formalised with your HR team.

  • Standardised on-boarding of new employees to receive their Salesforce user account
  • Planned training on the system by Tenacre or your in-house superuser
  • A policy to deactivate users that are exiting the business.
  • The transfer and handover of Salesforce records from the existing user to the new joiner (or to the existing staff)
  • Removal of existing user from 'web to lead' or 'web to case' queues
  • Addition of new users to 'web to lead' or 'web to case' queues