how to implement salesforce at your startup

Implementing Salesforce at Your Startup? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you are considering implementing Salesforce (or any CRM for that matter) at your startup, there are key things you need to know, or at least be thinking about, to ensure it provides value. I would argue Salesforce is the best overall CRM on the market, but in order to harness that power it has to be configured and customized properly.

In many cases, your implementation should be done by a professional (more on Salesforce implementations here). A professional partner will want to know how your sales process works, where it needs help and what the shiny new CRM is expected to improve. The issue for startups is that the answers to these questions are not always known. Even if they are known, they may change during the time it takes to implement Salesforce. Even a four-week Salesforce implementation can be a lifetime for a startup. So what to do?

Prepare Before Engaging a Salesforce Implementation Partner

For your startup, some of the questions below might not be known, but even “best guesses” are helpful. The very process of the founder and executive team thinking about these things can have a positive effect. Try white-boarding them as a team, then having someone put them in a shared Google doc where they can be refined over a few days.

Overall, document as much information as you can – don’t worry, these aren’t final answers or set in stone. Your instance of Salesforce should evolve with your sales process and team.

  • What roles will exist in the organization that will be using Salesforce (some examples below)?
    • Lead Generation
    • Sales team member
    • Sales team leader
    • Customer Support (possibly only accessing information via the customer support platform)
    • Customer Success
    • Executives
    • Finance and Accounting
  • Thinking about the team members above, roughly how many total Salesforce licences might be needed in the next 6 months?
  • What platforms will Salesforce ideally be integrated with (some examples below)?
    • Customer service, like Desk or Zendesk
    • Click to Chat, like Olark
    • Marketing Automation, like Pardot or Hubspot
    • Your product itself (for example, syncing customer’s last login date, registered users etc)
  • How is your core product packaged from a sales perspective. Is it sold by the seat, single company licenses, single implementations etc? If it is sold over a time period, is it monthly and/or annual?
  • Are sales generally one-offs or are renewals and/or upsells an anticipated part of the sales process? More on SaaS renewals for startups here.
  • What is the anticipated dollar value of an average sale and how long is it expected it might take to complete an average sale?
  • Roughly how many products will be for sale and will there also be complementary services sold (implementation fees, professional services, enterprise level contracts and support packages)?
  • Will products initially be sold in a single currency or will there be multiple currencies?
  • What is the  “best guess” on what the sales and onboarding process will look like (example below)?
    • Lead is pursued by Sales via cold calling and email
    • Initial two calls are used to qualify the lead
    • An online demo is scheduled and occurs
    • Proposal is sent to customer and negotiated
    • Contract is signed
    • Product is provisioned
    • Invoices is paid
    • Product is pushed live (deal is complete)
    • Customer Success trains new user

A lot to think about isn’t it? A good implementation partner will help you refine the answers to these questions, but if you are already thinking about them, they’ll be able to more quickly begin building a scope of work and proposal for you. And getting things done faster is always a win for a startup.

Need help with your Salesforce implementation? Wondering if Salesforce is the right CRM for your startup? Wondering if your startup even needs a CRM? Get in touch with us – we have a long history of working at startups, mentoring startups and implementing CRM’s for startups. And we love to talk to and get to know new startups. So get in touch.

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