It’s the break up you did not see coming. Companies that have Salesforce.com sometimes leave it. I encountered another one this month and while I was surprised the telltale signs were there. At the end of the day, my company will likely not deter a client from leaving Salesforce.com–that is, if they engage me in the conversation at all. However, as a Salesforce.com partner we must be honest about losing customers (justifiably or not) and that sometimes they simply leave the platform (ie Salesforce.com), not you.
So here are a few things companies considering new installations and the many more questioning if they should stay with Salesforce.com should understand before making a decision:
- Forget about the people who are sold on Salesforce.com (the advocates). Instead look to the most important person: the lowest on the totem pole. This person’s entire way of working will be turned upside down. Whatever systems they use today will be replaced with something foreign. Something that–no matter how much they hate today’s system–requires change in how they do their job. We’re not just talking about where they look in a system or how they create new records. The core of everything they do changes. The longer this person or people have been in that role, the more difficult the change will be. (This is something my SMB clients rarely have the budgets to address with sufficient training and retraining instead taking what they can afford and hoping for the best.) This user who is most dramatically impacted is not alone what matters. The impact must be multiplied by the role and the importance that role carries if the person left the job. Said another way: The bitching factor. If this person struggles with change and plays a significant role in say, billing or HR or some other support mechanism other than sales then seriously consider how management will handle that situation. If one in 10 sales reps resist, who cares. Adapt or die. But if the one person who manages payroll resists then take heed. I’m always astounded how quick managers and owners are to acquiesce to this person. I get it….okay, maybe I don’t get it. People are replaceable. Sorry folks, This is the real world. If you are implementing Salesforce.com or any system around how a particular person or department likes to do things as opposed to what is bets for your company then know you have been warned. This will not end well. Money will be wasted and employees will know who’s really in control. And it’s not you, Mr/ Ms. CEO.
- The person who built the system leaves. Manager asks, “Why did my employee not commit to me for life?” Dude, it happens. Time and time again I am asked to support an existing configuration that the new guy (or gal) has inherited. Management let the system be configured by an internal resource and rarely (ok, never) has the builder left behind a blue print or manual for why things are built they way they are, making maintenance quite difficult–and costly.
- It takes a whole lot more money to maintain Salesforce.com than anyone realized. Salesforce.com sales reps will sell you the pie in the sky. They’ll tell you all the things it does and how great it is. in reality to set up such features and functions is NOT something just anyone can do and–oh! this is my favorite–that feature costs extra! This is the ugly reality few realize until it’s too late.
- Salesforce.com evolves and changes–all the *** time! (Yes I wanted to insert the f word there so please read so as you read that sentence to yourself.) Three times a year you receive release updates. Some are subtle, some for monstrously significant and few can keep up. Do you have the resources–internal or otherwise–to stay abreast of it all?
- Data…ah yes data. NO ONE TALKS ABOUT DATA. Your data is dirty. It will probably stay dirty and if anyone can enter anything or your security model sucks then you will drown in a sea of bad data and wonder why you’re not growing sales (or whatever it is you bought Salesforce.com for). If you do not account for data quality and stewardship do not buy Salesforce.com. FYI- Being a decent System Admin takes a lot a time. That person may not have the skill or wherewithal to also manage data.
- Commitment to business protocols- Oh dear, we have to commitment how sales will be measured? We have to commit to who is responsible for managing a project? Yes. Yes. Yes. At every turn your company should be asked very difficult questions about how to recognize clients vs lost clients vs prospects. What constitutes a Lead? What constitutes a duplicate Contact? Your system will be useless unless you commit and build the system to support whatever protocol is established. This is often best done via Validation Rules but few users realize the that business processes require commitment let alone how to configure they system to support those protocols.
Sounds daunting? It is. Salesforce.com and support from a qualified partner is not cheap. You need to understand what is required of you before entering (or renewing) your license.