Salesforce Implementation Success – Tip #2

In the last post, I wrote about the importance of having a client designate the right internal project manager for the SFDC implementation project.  Staying with the theme of sharing Salesforce.com implementation and consulting best practices I’ll share some thoughts today on documenting a clients’ extant business processes.

Let’s assume that we have an understanding of the client’s basic requirements, so for example we know that the sales team will be the user base and we know that their current tools consist of an on-premise database (or ACT!, Goldmine, etc), Outlook, and spreadsheets.  What’s the next step that we really need to delve into?  Right.  We need to understand how these tools are currently being used and what the current sales process is – from start to finish.  The best way to do this is to talk with people.  And by people I don’t mean just the management or executive teams.  You need to talk with the individual sales people and ideally anyone who the customer comes into contact with throughout the sales process, and even the folks who the sales people need to interact with through the process.  You’ll certainly want to talk with the sales managers and/or sales execs, and they’ll most likely facilitate your meetings with the sales team, but don’t stop there.

Quite frankly there is often a disconnect between the way things are supposed to flow (according to management) and the way things actually flow (according to sales reps).  If end-user adoption is a major factor in a successful CRM implementation (which it is) then a solution must be designed only after having a full understanding of how things “actually” happen in the sales process.

For the above example, here are a few key steps.  We’re using the example of a sales team here but this could certainly be applied to most business units:

1.  Conduct individual meetings with each member of the sales team. I’d suggest setting these meetings up in an interview format in which you have a pre-defined set of questions to cover.  Set the expectation ahead of time that the meeting will take about X number of minutes and what the general topic will be.  Be clear with each person as to why you are there and the reasoning behind the questions.  You want to get honest answers as to what the true process is, and it’s not that most people are liars but there may be a fear that any information they give you will be held against them.  This is common in organizations.  Recap your understanding of the process to each person you speak with prior to exiting the meeting and have them verify that your description is accurate and complete.

2.  Conduct similar meetings with each sales manager and/or sales exec.  This can obviously vary depending on each organization’s’ structure but the point is to spend time learning about the sales process from the perspective of the management team.  It is important to understand the current metrics and KPI’s that the management team uses, as well as the metrics that they need but aren’t able to accurately ascertain.  This is important in designing a solution that meets your clients’ needs.

3.  Document the extant process as defined by the sales team and sales management. Compare notes from all meetings with the sales team and management when documenting the existing process.  You may find that things are done slightly different from sales person to sales person  but you should at least be able to get a common process flow chart compiled.  If the sales process varies greatly between sales people then there’s a bigger issue!  We typically compile all of the information that we learn about the sales process and draft a detailed flow-chart of each step.

4.  Share your findings with the client’s internal team. Schedule a time to share all of these findings with the client’s rollout team – this varies but will usually include the project manager, executive sponsor(s), and any key management personnel.  Explain any variances that were found in the sales process and go through each step with the team.  This is sure to spark some good debate, but usually helps to shed light on any gaps and problematic areas.  The desired outcome is to attain confirmation that the extant sales process is understood and has been thoroughly documented.

At this point, we would begin work on a demo for the client to help them better understand, see, touch, and feel how a potential solution would look and function.

As always, I look forward to any feedback or information that you’d care to share.

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