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Maximize your Salesforce’s ROI - the definitive guide
Kimmo Salmela · May 31, 2022 · 10 mins
Salesforce and other CRMs are getting increasingly popular with companies large and small – and the trend is expected to remain strong. The European cloud CRM market, for instance, was valued at USD 11.51 billion in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 16.61 billion by 2027, says Mordor Intelligence.
No doubt such popularity stems from the concrete financial gains that companies get from their CRM investment. But what are the real benefits – and how to ensure they are reaped to the fullest for maximized ROI?
These questions have proven popular recently with several leading Salesforce experts. To find answers, we took a look at what eight of them say about them – and pulled together the tips that they would bring up most often into a list, presented below. Mostly these experts come from consultancies specializing in Salesforce deployments.
Where does the ROI come from?
But before we dig in deeper, let us quickly define how to approach the ROI calculations in general. Dmitri Novomeiski, Practice Head and Area Vice President at LTI, lists 3 key areas businesses are looking at when measuring opportunities of maximizing investment value and the impact. These are:
- revenue optimization (revenue growth, profit margin improvement, operational cost decrease)
- customer experience (improvement in customer happiness, increase in customer share of wallet and decrease in customer churn/loss)
- compliance and risk management (decrease in number of high-risk incidents and overall risk tolerance scores and so forth).
Just in case, Józef Kaszowski, CEO & Salesforce Architect at Karpato, provides here a slightly more elaborate approach to calculating the ROI overall.
That said, Salesforce itself cites the following clear figures, again based on a slightly different logic. Companies that use Salesforce see:
- 25% increase in revenue
- 35% increase in customer satisfaction
- 25% increase in ROI for marketing
- 34% productivity increase for customer service agents.
Align targets with your company strategy
When calculating the ROI, we think there is one crucial fact to bear in mind:
“When deploying Salesforce, think first about your high-level business targets. Is there one now overriding the others? Make that your guiding light and look first at how Salesforce can help you in achieving it. This way you can ensure that your deployment is aligned with your overall business strategy. This is paramount, as you will soon see.”
Of course, we cannot define any exact steps companies need to take to make the most of their CRM. Each company works in a way of its own and the CRM must conform to its processes and data model. Yep, that also means that it is important to ensure that your CRM provides the flexibility you need to tune it to your needs.
But now on to our main topic. From our sources, we could collect a nice little list of the most important points – those that were most often mentioned, if often in different words.
1. Plan for today, plan for the future
Here in Finland, we have a saying “well planned is half done”. And true, time spent planning properly is often saved in execution. What is more, it enables smoother sailing into the oft stormy waters of the future, where a firm understanding of your destination is a must to keep you on the right course. So be careful to plan your product roadmap, system enhancements and also your adoption strategy.
In the short term, good planning simply helps you reach the break-even quicker with your CRM investment. Says Dmitri Novomeiski of LTI,
“Digitizing some of the manual-intensive work with Salesforce can start generating additional value for your business and enable a Center of Innovation in the organization.”
To achieve this, he points out three steps:
- Allocating part of your IT spend to innovation and experimentation on the platform
- Actively crowdsourcing and rewarding ideas – from employees, partners and customers.
- Exploring new tech as it emerges.
Essentially, the importance of good planning applies to everything we say below.
2. Adoption, adoption, adoption!
“Did you know that 32% of CRM customers struggle to achieve a 75% adoption rate?”
So what really counts is securing buy-in for your solution. Training – especially when onboarding your users – plays a crucial role here. But do not either forget to provide continuous, expert technical support to ensure that trivial glitches will not undermine your ROI efforts.
3. Think user experience. Think end-to-end.
Says Girish Avantsa, COO of technology transformation specialists PopcornApps:
“Given the breadth and depth of Salesforce, it is important to tailor the end user experience just right to enable rapid adoption.”
Whether it is about easy-to-understand interfaces, processes or reports, Avantsa continues, “Make sure to maintain consistency across the user experience to build credibility and make the experience as effortless and flawless as possible.”
The means to get this right is employing automation where possible. It pays to verify every part of your plan before deployment, end-to-end. Mind you, this may entail integrating with external systems, too, which is where Salesforce’s MuleSoft integration solutions can come in handy in reducing manual work.
And at the end of the day, it is all about the experience your customers get. Enabling self-service for your staff and possible partners in pricing, contracting, quoting and ordering your products, for example, can enhance the customer experience a great deal. So can offering real-time personalization of content. All this is well within the scope of Salesforce.
4. Ensure Data Quality
Customer data quality specialists at Validity point out In their blog that
“The saying “garbage in, garbage out” has never been truer than for data. Without accurate data being entered, you cannot expect quality information to flow from those data sources.”
They suggest setting a company standard for data consistency, integrity and security, to ensure quality data sources are being entered into Salesforce.
It is equally much about data maintenance. As Girish Avantsa of PopcornApps says,
“Although your Salesforce solution is built with innovative features and capabilities, it needs consistent, accurate, and updated data to work magic. If you want to get the best results from your investment, you need to look at data as a strategic asset and work towards maintaining it, so you can get the most benefit.”
5. Customize to taste – and business needs
Out-of-the-box Salesforce products certainly offer a gamut of capabilities. Still, specific business needs or industry requirements often make it necessary to build on top of these products – even though Salesforce provides a great deal of flexibility to configure specific business rules and extend data models.
As Dmitri Novomeiski of CMI points out,
“Business needs take priority, increasing technical debt as a result.”
He also suggests a proper cleanup to remove unnecessary elements that hamper the user experience. These include:
- removing dead code: unused methods, classes, lines of code
- optimizing code in alignment with Salesforce practices
- cleaning up all fields, screens, rules, profiles, roles and so forth
- automating future quality validation and control to ensure ongoing hygiene.
Apps from the Salesforce AppExchange can also come in handy for giving you the extra functionality you need. For example, document automation is much easier to implement with a specialized app, which can also provide you with greater flexibility in meeting your needs.
But whichever route you choose, it is important that each customization decision be well evaluated and the Salesforce guidelines are followed in implementation to ensure compatibility with future product releases.
6. Think multi-cloud
Girish Avantsa of Popcornapps emphasizes the importance of looking into the possibilities of all Salesforce clouds you might find relevant:
“Make sure to embrace the solution in such a way that it provides a 360° view of your customers while integrating seamlessly with internal and external systems. Implementing the solution across multiple clouds is a great way to enable end-to-end integration”
- Use Marketing Cloud to enable marketing journeys across enterprise and consumer segments.
- Use the Sales Cloud to manage complex sales processes through simple product catalogs while increasing visibility and improving the order and quote management process.
- Use the Service Cloud to reach customers instantly on the channel of their choice and provide support with greater speed and precision.
- If relevant, use the Commerce Cloud to enable eCommerce transactions.
- Evaluate use of industry-specific products like Financial Services Cloud, Telecom, Insurance to leverage industry-specific data models, prebuilt entities and business processes.
- Evaluate use of MuleSoft to integrate Salesforce with other systems to create an integrated enterprise and do away with siloed views of business.
As Jill Penfield of GearsCRM points out:
“Today, almost 40% of Salesforce customers are multi-cloud and/or multi-product… It’s important to consider what products will add value for your organization.”
7. Keep everyone’s role crystal clear
The more people that have access to Salesforce, the higher risk of errors or security breaches. So it literally pays to establish efficient control over who has access to what in Salesforce by setting role-based permissions. Ensure that each employee only gets the necessary information they need to do their job.
Role clarity requires special emphasis here, as the data quality specialists at Validity say:
“Role clarity will help employees accomplish their tasks. Make sure each employee understands what actions they are responsible for within Salesforce, such as adding information and editing information.”
8. Set goals – and track them
Is your tool helping or hurting your efforts? To find out, it is important to set goals with each tool. For instance, if you add a new automation feature, just check within 30 days after purchase to see how much time it saves from your employees compared to the previous manual procedure. If there is not a significant change, then perhaps your money is better spent on something else.
But also bear in mind that the tool may have an impact on some other key area and thus be a worthwhile investment still. Jennifer Wood, Marketing & PR Manager at Supermums urges tracking success in the following:
- quality of service for your customers
- customer engagement rates
- business intelligence
- financial sustainability.
9. Act for today, think for tomorrow
Ok, you have gone live with your initial solution, users are growing enthusiastic about it as it runs smoothly. Congratulate yourself for a great start – and begin planning for your enhancement journey, if you have not already. Advice from Jill Penfield of GearsCRM:
“43% of customers aren’t even taking advantage of even HALF of the available functionality within their original investment. This is such a loss! So you should be considering the following: How are you building your roadmap?”
What is your strategy for continuous improvement and success? What additional Salesforce (or complementary) technologies can bring value? What features do you have access to right now that you aren’t utilizing?
Keep up with the latest updates, train employees regularly, and keep data clean to get more out of your CRM software!
Conclusion: should you go it alone?
Small surprise that the Salesforce integrators whose brain we picked here advise you to rely on an external consultancy in your implementation. But then again, these consultancies come in large numbers today for a reason: there is much demand for them. Especially if you have complex products and use cases, you might well benefit from hiring one.
The same applies to specialized functionality provided by Salesforce applications; app providers (like us) often provide services to set up and configure these apps. We often also partner directly with Salesforce integrators, many of whom have our products among their go-to apps.
Kimmo Salmela is a communications manager at Documill. Earlier on, he worked in several industry and solution marketing and communication positions at Nokia. Now Kimmo focuses on online collaboration technologies and their future prospects for businesses.
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