This is a guest post by Evan Bartlett, Sales Director of a rapidly growing team at ZocDoc. Evan is also the co-founder and co-host of Building the Sales Machine, a quarterly meet-up for experienced sales leaders that are scaling sales organizations.
Smoothly run sales organizations at SaaS companies often come down to three things: people, process, and technology. Of these three, the people tend to be the most variable part of the equation, and the most difficult part of a large technology rollout, like Salesforce. In today’s post, I wanted to focus on these people and what a critical role they play in getting Salesforce working for sales organizations.
Salesforce can do anything you want it to do (at least that’s what their sales person told you), but the dirty secret is that you need the technical skills and the training to be able to pull it off. You need to think about how everyone on your team will be using the software, and configure it in a way that is beneficial to their varying roles. On top of that, role-specific training is crucial to consistent engagement after the initial rollout.
Who’s Who in Salesforce Implementation
Let’s cut to the chase. Your frontline salespeople are the ones that have to use Salesforce every single day, almost every hour of the day. They are your single most active user, and the question you should be answering is, “What is the value to a frontline salesperson?”
That answer is two fold: organizing their business and optimizing their business. A good Salesforce implementation will help a frontline salesperson organize their business in a way that they trust. Simple things like making it easy to find the good leads they’ve called in the past, or a trustworthy task system to follow-up with those leads all fall into this bucket.
The optimization piece comes from using the data that they’re putting in Salesforce to measure and increase their effectiveness. Some examples of this might include email open and clickthrough rates, optimizations in the different lead types they’re calling, or feedback on the number of times they’re following up with leads. A lot of this optimization value is delivered in partnership with their sales manager.
A huge barrier to frontline reps getting utility out of Salesforce is that many sales organizations believe that Salesforce is easy to use. There is this myth that all salespeople and their sales managers are born knowing how to “speak” CRM. As a result, the organizations think they can cut corners on training the sales team on these technologies. Others have said it before, but Salesforce software is very complicated. It even has a 5,000-page user guide. I personally have been using Salesforce since 2004, and despite my geeky background in computer science, I still find it complicated. Deliver value to your reps by providing in-depth and consistent training.
Many organizations make the same poor assumptions about their sales managers that they do for their individual contributors. Sales managers, or at least the majority that I’ve worked with, are not all masters of Salesforce. It’s unreasonable to expect that they should be without any training.
First, their needs from a system like Salesforce are significantly more complicated. In order to understand their team’s performance and areas for improvement, they need a way to make use of all of the data being put into the system. The reporting module is complicated, and requires a lot of time to pull numbers from the 5+ reports you need to get an idea of how a salesperson is performing. When you have 10+ people on your team, you’re busy running team meetings, trying to spend time shadowing, attending leadership meetings, etc. It all adds up.
Realistically, there needs to be an analyst or technology supporting the frontline sales managers. Lots of companies invest time in constantly updating and re-configuring dashboards and reports, but this is a losing battle. It will put them a step behind. In the end, no one has more impact on your sales team and your revenue than these frontline sales managers. Don’t leave them as the last priority when it comes to supporting them with data. Read this post for more on whether building an internal solution or buying an analytics software is right for your team.
Ultimately, the more technical work behind a full Salesforce rollout falls into two major categories: product management and systems administration. The product management work is the process of thinking about how to set up Salesforce in order to enable each part of your sales team to do their jobs better. Product managers in organizations like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google aim to make it easier for their users to post and search. They research their user to try to understand their use cases, and continually simplify the product to make their users’ lives easier. It’s part communication, part expectations management, part understanding the user, and part planning for the future.
The flip side of this coin is systems administration, which is needed to keep the system running while you’re making changes from the product management side. The types of activities that fall under this skill set are data maintenance, update of roles and permissions, dashboard upkeep, and so on. This may seem less exciting, but in the short term it’s the most critical piece of the equation. Nothing works if the data is not clean, or if sales managers can’t see their team members in their team dashboard.
Treating these two separate roles as one, or not getting the right people in place for each role, could really hurt your Salesforce capabilities.
This is the one category that sales teams seem to focus on the most. CRMs, as Salesforce.com envisions it, are intended for the people at the top of the org chart to help them better understand what sales is doing, has done, and where things will end up.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my opinion, though it tends to be the number one priority and overshadow everything else. While getting your leaders the best numbers possible is important, if you do it at the cost of the individual contributors and frontline managers, your data will be so bad that it won’t help your executives at all. When thinking through the process of how to get numbers for your executives, I recommend a bottom up approach. Start with the source and work your way back up to the top.
Because of poorly managed rollouts, far too often Salesforce becomes a major source of teamwide frustration. The complexity of the software requires a deep understanding of the multiple stakeholders involved, as well as the ideal use case for each. To avoid the headache that so many organizations experience, make sure you are paying careful attention to each user group and providing proper training. The outcome for everyone involved is dependent on the compliance and participation of everyone else.