Salesforce is a platform that can transform the way an organization conducts business. It can streamline tracking and reporting processes, enhance communication with donors and constituents, and consolidate necessary information. However, it is important to remember that the software is a tool. You have to learn how to use it to its full potential to get the maximum benefit!
To make the transition to using Salesforce as seamless as possible, it’s always helpful to learn tips from other organizations in their use of Salesforce. Each year, we speak with a group of customers who represent the diversity of region, size, and experience among our customers. We asked them many questions, and honed in on what it took for them to be successful. Here are their top four tips for getting the most out of the Salesforce platform.
1. Planning Ahead and Outlining Goals Facilitates Long-Term Success
The most important tip that customers recommend is planning ahead to get the most out of the platform. There are three components of adequate planning: having a plan, creating schemas, and mapping data. This means that your first step should be creating outlines of your goals and the data you have to best understand it.
Slowing down the pace and not taking on too much too quickly will set your team up for long-term success, according to one customer who said,
“Spend a good amount of time and really thoughtfully consider your data model and your processes and how you want to manage all of that before you […] jump into the system.”
2. Investing in Resources is Key to Getting the Most Out of Salesforce
The second key tip that customers have reported is the importance of investing in resources — whether that’s staff, training, time, or consultants. Customers recommend having enough people who are willing to dive into Salesforce and understand its capabilities. It’s imperative that the staff using Salesforce has the proper expertise to help your organization get the most out of this tool.
Salesforce has many free resources to help with this. Adequate training can make the platform significantly more useful for everyone across your organization. It’s also important to keep in mind that patience is necessary. Inputting data into Salesforce takes time, but in the long run, it will be worth it! “Invest in getting Salesforce configured and implemented in your institution correctly and getting the right skilled people,” said one customer.
3. Hiring and Learning From a Consultant Can Be a Helpful Step in the Right Direction
An additional component of investing in resources is hiring a consultant or external contractor for integration help. Using a consultant to manage Salesforce can be quite beneficial to an organization because they can add capacity and expertise by completing logistical tasks and expanding functionality. Consultants offer external knowledge that can often provide a new perspective to your organization.
However, when hiring a consultant, some work needs to be done up front by both the consultant and your organization. According to one Salesforce customer, “The need for strong project management [is important]. And that’s on both sides. It’s not just your consultants. Internally, you’re going to need that, too.” When using a consultant, it is important to remain engaged in the process and learn from them so you can eventually do everything on your own.
4. Organizational Buy-in Will Help You Maximize Your Usage
The final tip that customers gave is that organizational buy-in is essential. Salesforce ought to be an organizational investment, one customer shared,
“Trainings definitely first have to have that, but management buy-in and focusing on what you actually need is what I would suggest.”
This could mean having a Salesforce champion on board or showing staff how they could benefit from using Salesforce with reports & dashboards. Getting as many staff as possible on board with using the software is the best way to centralize information and get the best use out of Salesforce.
These four crucial tips are interconnected. One needs organizational buy-in to make investments, adequate planning to get organizational buy-in, and proper planning to make investments. Prioritizing these four goals will maximize Salesforce’s benefits and ease the transition into using it.
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About the Author
Futureforce Intern, Salesforce
Julia Cosgrove is a Futureforce intern working in Strategy and Operations. She is on the Measurement and Evaluation Team and is a rising Senior at Columbia University, studying Political Science and Psychology.