Small businesses tend to be pretty different than their larger counterparts. Instead of entrenched processes and structures, they embrace continuous growth and change. Instead of hundreds (or thousands) of employees in specialized roles, they’ve got a smaller number of people who wear many hats. And instead of relying on the cushion of accumulated resources, they’ve got to do more with less.

It only makes sense, then, that many small businesses need a different technology strategy than mid-sized and enterprise-level organizations. They’ve got to adopt tools that support easy customization and that are capable of quick scaling. That’s why many smaller companies choose to implement Salesforce.

That said, implementation does not equal optimization. Just because your small business is using Salesforce doesn’t mean you’re getting the most out of it. Thankfully, these tips are designed to help.

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Salesforce Tip #1: Don’t overcomplicate your Salesforce build

The number-one piece of advice from our small business team? Keep it simple. Sure, you could go all in on a fully tricked out org that maps perfectly to your processes as they exist today. Here’s the problem, though: When your processes inevitably change, it’s going to take a lot of time, energy and money to update the platform to reflect those changes. And then when your processes change again — well, you see where this is going.

Instead, focus on implementing Salesforce in a way that powers the most important aspects of your business and brings the most value to your users. Beyond the money you’ll save, you’ll also have a much better shot at avoiding the ultimate CRM death blow: Low adoption.

Salesforce Tip #2: Put forward-looking structures in place — even if they aren’t perfect

If keeping it simple is the most important thing you can do when implementing Salesforce, this is a close second. That’s because Salesforce is much more than a sales tool that allows reps to track deals. Rather, it’s a technology that helps your entire business succeed — and data and reporting are a big reason why.

With Salesforce, your team can store pretty much any kind of data. Sales numbers, sure, but also metrics related to marketing, customer service, operations — whatever. And once that data is in your platform, you can can create dashboards and run reports that will help you make more informed business decisions. Which means it’s a smart idea to spend some time up front thinking about what data you want your company to keep track of. Ask yourself: What numbers do I need to know in order to drive this business forward?

In addition to data and reporting structures, you should also make sure to enable a specific role hierarchy, one that controls what access users have to different kinds of data. While that might seem antithetical to your current philosophy — we’re all equals and we want everybody to have access to everything — consider it a gift to a future version of your company, when you’ll need to build in certain checks and balances. After all, if your business continues to grow, there will likely come a time when you don’t want every employee to be able to see and edit any data they want.

Salesforce Tip #3: After implementation, keep an eye on the other tools in your users’ repertoires

Once your team has had a chance to use Salesforce for a while, you should do a little digging to find out what other tools and technologies they’re still using. Outlook? Excel? The results of your investigation will tell you a couple of different things, including what your users don’t know how to do in Salesforce and what functionalities they wish they had access to in the platform.

In turn, this will tell you what you need to do next. Schedule more user training? Increase the capabilities of your Salesforce org via apps in the AppExchange and tools like dataloader.io? In the end, it’s all about making your employees more capable and efficient.

Salesforce Tip #4: Stay up to date on the Salesforce ecosystem

This one’s related to the previous strategy, in that it’s asking you not to think of Salesforce as something to set up and forget about. In fact, Salesforce regularly releases new features, updates and versions designed to help you and your team get more out of the platform. By staying up to date on these new releases, you’ll be able to do more. And, well, more is better, right?

Beyond that, regular updates will save you the steep cost (not to mention the frustration) of a major overhaul down the road. As our small business team advises, Salesforce is kind of like a car. It requires upkeep if you want it to run smoothly. And if you neglect it for too long, you’ll be faced with an undesirable choice: Scrap it or rebuild?

If you want to hear more about these tips (plus others!) make sure to check out our on-demand webinar, “How Small Businesses Can Get the Most Out Salesforce.” You’ll get actionable Salesforce advice designed to help you boost efficiency, increase your platform capabilities and achieve better business results.

Tags
Strategy, Tech, Small Business

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