October 7, 2020 | Chris Job | Senior Analyst, Global SaaS Support Services 

An extraordinary Salesforce Sales Cloud experience can make your sales team more successful, provide vital business transparency, and increase the return-on-investment of the corporate customer-relationship-management (CRM) system. The bottom line: streamlining the sales process provides the business with valuable intelligence, a faster sales process, and more closed-won deals. 

Why Is Sales Cloud So Critical? 

Sales Cloud is the foundation for the Salesforce ecosystem. It allows your business to scale into areas such as automated-marketing (Marketing Cloud), customer service (Service Cloud) and community engagement (Community Cloud) – all from one integrated solution.  

In a robust-CRM environment, users quickly engage with historical data, facilitate customer communication, maintain a sales pipeline, and even send quotes and contracts. This all sounds great, but if your sales team has users that ignore CRM processes or work outside the “system” to complete sales tasks, your organization likely has a poor-performing and badly configured CRM.  

The risk of a bad CRM sends ripple effects throughout the organization, from sales, marketing, finance, and fulfillment – and most importantly, the C-suite. As the Salesforce developer or architect responsible for your Salesforce Sales Cloud environment, you must make sure to avoid the following pitfalls and adopt these best practices. 

The Pitfalls of Implementing and Maintaining Sales Cloud 

1. Incomplete Historical Data 

If users cannot access all relevant customer and prospect data for their role, then workflows break down, and users may abandon or circumvent the solution. Potential fallout includes dropped customer issues, missed renewals, lost prospects, billing mistakes, and erroneous pipeline forecasting.  

As the Salesforce architect or executive owner, you must mandate that, when you first implement or update the functionality of Sales Cloud, your team or vendor uploads a complete set of historical customer and prospect data from other systems or other parts of the organization (e.g. service, finance, and fulfillment). Sales Cloud includes sales forecasting tools, advanced analytics, dashboards, and reporting that provide business clarity and, when configured correctly, process efficiencies. To get those features to work, the CRM needs great data.  

2. Failure to Assign User-level Change Champions 

Failure to involve, train, and support power users that morph into advocates can doom CRM initiatives from the beginning. The user-level change champion, or the functional lead user, provides feedback from the frontline, plays a vital role during user acceptance testing, and gives much-needed support for impacted personnel during implementation. 

To successfully implement Sales Cloud for the first time or if installing extensive workflow changes to the current environment, you should identify change champions at every organizational level. Major CRM initiatives always require executive and middle-management sponsorship, but companies often overlook the importance of user-level change champions. Companies should invest in additional training for user-level change champions which can lessen the burden on internal Salesforce resources or external vendors.  

3. Lack of Commitment and “Openness” to Continuous Improvement 

Companies often fail to develop new workflows post-implementation, viewing the project as “completed” once the project is live. That mindset often hurts companies in the long term. Also, it may take several months for other challenges to surface after the introduction of a new solution or workflow. Stay focused on process improvements! 

A highly-functional Sales Cloud environment requires an ongoing commitment and investment for continuous improvement. The Salesforce ecosystem continues to release new functionality loaded with complexity and opportunity. Companies also often fail at having an “openness” to creating new and improved ways to perform tasks and make the most of the release updates.  

Post-implementation provides enormous opportunities for companies to retain development services to move their version of Sales Cloud from “1.0 to 2.0.” Companies that think all they need for ongoing Salesforce success is a barebone admin support function will quickly fall behind the technology curve and end up with a less-than-ideal and out-of-date solution. 

Best Practices for Sales Cloud 

1. Focus on Expectation Setting and Adoption Management 

Implementing a CRM for the first time, upgrading to the Lightning Experience, or installing new functionality takes thorough planning, expertise, engagement, and resources. These projects are challenging, but they do not need to be painful. Companies often set themselves up for a rough road when they mishandle expectation setting and adoption management before a project even starts. 

Sales Cloud, when configured correctly, vastly improves the quality of life for all that participate in the selling process, whether front-, middle-, or back-office users. Stay on that message throughout the expectation-setting process as the clear end goal. Sell the dream, then make it happen. With ample rounds of discovery, proof-of-concept testing, and engagement with power users, the opportunity for expectation setting will happen automatically going forward. As noted in this post, adoption management hinges on the development of enthusiastic user-level change champions

2. Develop Data Management and Process Rules 

The quality of the CRM hinges on the data it houses. We all know the adage that says, “Garbage in, garbage out.” Whether you install a simplistic Sales Cloud configuration, or your company plans to merge many locations into a new environment, make sure your imported data is as perfect as possible. If the data does not allow sales users to efficiently manage accounts and close deals, all the “bells and whistles” of Sales Cloud are useless. 

Process rules (validation, alerts, and help fields) are integral to an efficient Sales Cloud workflow. When sales users create accounts, add contacts, or adjust opportunities, the system uses well-defined rules to help fix errors, provide explanations, and alert management of opportunity status changes. Complete historical data + vetted process rules = a great CRM. Smartly developed rules improve user experience and increase user adoption. 

3. Tap into Sales Cloud Expertise with a Managed Service Provider like Spinnaker Support 

With so many pitfalls for a feature-rich Salesforce product like Sales Cloud, it makes sense to turn to outside help to ensure ongoing CRM success. Spinnaker Support’s managed services helps organizations maximize their investment in the Sales Cloud environment through a partnership based on expertise, execution, and service.  

How to Gain a Competitive Advantage Using Sales Cloud 

The team of Salesforce experts at Spinnaker Support helps you and your organization create the best possible CRM experience. Explore how our Managed Services packages can empower your company.  Spinnaker Support works with medium- to large-sized companies to maximize your investment in the Salesforce ecosystem. Reach out and contact us today for an introductory conversation. 

Chris Job has spent over five years implementing complex Salesforce Sales Cloud, CPQ, and Billing solutions in high-tech, healthcare, finance, and professional services industries that operate on monthly or non-recurring revenue models. He has designed, maintained, and optimized Sales Cloud, CPQ & Billing systems for medium-to-enterprise-sized companies with over 1,000 CPQ end users.