Salesforce CRM: Resources for Initial Set up and Modifications

December 1, 2011

salesforce-logo_200X120BFor those of you who have had the opportunity to work with Salesforce, you may have encountered challenges from time-to-time in CRM set up, implementation or extraction of data. A Salesforce Consultant may be the answer to streamlining an otherwise daunting process. In Part 2 of our Salesforce overview, Salesforce certified administrator, developer and sales cloud consultant, Angela Mahoney gives us insight on how a consultant might be part of the solution when you hit a snag.

What is your experience? 

I started on the platform and was an end user in 2002. I started on the platform as an administer for Health Care Co in PR, deploying in a mobile sales environment. Continuously stay up in SF. My forte is the sales side, general processes across, mobile, data migration, etc. 

Range of cost to consult with someone on initial architecture? 

I have been in the position of hiring consultants to work on Salesforce.com projects, and while costs vary, they all have one thing in common – I always thought it was too much because I hated to spend my precious budget on consultants when I’d prefer to spend it on training my own team (who was usually so busy that we HAD to hire additional help). But consultants can be great – if you have a sales team that spends a half hour a week pulling together reports, that’s 30 minutes times X sales reps at $100/hour… that adds up to generally more than you’d pay a consultant or developer to create a solution. As you go to discuss a solution that you may want to implement, spend the money to talk with someone who has been there, done that. I guarantee you that it will be more costly to undo your work or worse, frustrate an employee so much with brutally long hours of data manipulation as a work around that they quit… think long term about the time you can save via automation before you get the price estimate so you have a frame of reference.

Support after the sale from Salesforce seems a bit daunting – any suggestions on how to get help when you need it?

Sweet bliss – you have signed on the dotted line and a sparkly new Salesforce.com org is all yours.  It’s probably at this point that the panic starts – whether you are a small organization with limited resources, or a large organization with a fleet of IT folks, chances are you all have one thing in common – you are all facing a learning curve on the force.com platform, and if you didn’t purchase the costly premier support plan, you may feel a little overwhelmed. If you are trying to hire people to grow or augment a Salesforce.com team, you probably feel frustrated – it’s hard to find people as the platform continues to grow and trained, capable resources seem elusively hidden. What to do? Fortunately, there is a vast array of help out there, from trainings to blogs to partnering to user groups. Let’s take a look at each of those:

Salesforce offers a multitude of in-person and online trainings to get you up to speed, and there is their annual Dreamforce conference, which presents a huge amount of bang for your buck (several energetic days packed with a plethora of trainings and panel discussions – one of the best uses of time for people working with the platform. Check the Salesforce.com website for this information.

The salesforce community has sprouted up with a bevvy of knowledgeable people who are so very willing to share their experiences, solutions and opinions. And they write blogs! It seems that many have good senses of humor to boot, so find a couple that you enjoy and check them every now and then. I do recommend that everyone at least start with the ButtonClick Admin.

Don’t have time to ramp up your learning or hire a team? That’s ok – there are consulting partners galore, from those geared towards large enterprises to lone consultants out there to solve your problems and play in new systems (and the truly passionate do see this as playing. Check out the partner page on the AppExchange here: Word of mouth (asking in your local user group) is a great way to come up with a list of who’s good in your area.

Salesforce has a vibrant Success Community online, that you can tap into with your username and password . In this site, you’ll find helpful Salesforce.com users that share their expertise, all sorts of groups that you can join for more in depth discussions, help and training, etc. It’s fantastic.

Most major cities also host user groups, volunteer-driven local communities where users meet up to hear partners speak, share problems and solutions, and maybe enjoy a beer every now and then. It’s a great place to bring questions and also share job openings. Find your local group here.

Many cities also have Developer Groups. How are they different? User groups are geared towards BSA and Admins, those who make things happen with clicks (not code). And that is great. However, the Developers that are fluent in APEX, VisualForce and a host of other languages to integrate or display or truly make your Salesforce.com machine hum, are dealing with other challenges like working around governor limits or refactoring on a changing platform, and want to meet like-minded people. Also a great place to bring challenges or job opportunities – find your local group here.

Anything else that you think is important for us to know about Salesforce that we haven’t covered?

Like so many other technical solutions, the force.com platform continues to evolve.  They are constantly creating additional solutions, or even buying companies to integrate onto the platform to better serve us users. There are still many that think of Salesforce.com as ONLY a CRM for tracking sales data, but it has moved far beyond that – you can track the sales process from lead to proposal to close to invoicing to service calls to having it speak to your HVAC system and log cases without you even being aware, for example. It’s unstoppable as a solution partner, so don’t overlook what it has to offer – the CRM portion is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

For those that need further help with CRM selection, set up or implementation of Salesforce, Angela Mahoney is available for consult in person, by phone or virtual. Having personally spent countless hours with clients in the restructure Salesforce content, I agree that it is mission critical to get your set up correct from the start. The small investment of time and if needed, consulting will likely same you a lot of time and cost down the road.

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