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Five Tips to Minimizing Salesforce® Configuration Costs

Tip #1- CRM is an Evolution, not a Revolution

Implementation will Take Longer than You Expect

  • If you are implementing Salesforce for the first time, it can take longer than you anticipate to fully configure and implement within your organization - and even longer before the users are fully trained and up-to-speed. Full implementation can take three to six months, including the planning and business analysis phases. During this time, you may be paying for licenses you are not using.

Purchase a Limited Number of Licenses During Implementation

  • Basic Configuration and Implementation can often be undertaken with only a few licenses in place. For example, you have 72 potential users ....(8 Sales Managers, 50 Salespeople, 10 Customer Service Agents and 3 Marketers). You can likely configure the system with only one user license for each ‘type’ of user. Choosing a pilot or test group of users will also help you to further flesh out the system requirements while not paying for licenses you are not ready to use.

Think Globally Where Possible

  • Many companies sell globally. You may have agents or distributors in other countries. Although you may not consider these groups to be part of your initial CRM users, you may realize you want to add them later. Therefore, taking this into account when designing the system and considering a global record approach will save on redesign and possible costly changes later.

Tip #2- Create Assignments for Potential Users

Ask Employees to Create Checklists

  • Your employees will be the users of your CRM system. In addition, they know the details of the business.

  • By asking them to create lists of what they would like to see in the system as well as checklists of how they perform their various tasks, you are gathering requirements to help configure the system. It also enrolls your employees in the design and use of the forthcoming system.

Identify Object Captains

  • Object Captains are individuals assigned responsibility for a specific object. For example, a sales leader may be the Object Captain for the Account record; a marketing leader would own the Lead Record.

  • While making changes to objects is a collaborative exercise, assigning ultimate ownership to an object, identifies someone to ensure fields and features are utilized or removed and that objects are properly maintained – including value list choices inside the object.

Use the ‘Five and Five’ Rule

  • Ask each Object Captain to come up with five critical questions they would like answered. For example, the Captain of the Lead object might ask for the following critical data points: Lead source, annual widget volume purchase, current competitive supplier, etc.

  • The questions can be different depending on the prospect segment so for example, if you are seeking new business from an active customer, the questions would likely be different than when talking to an inactive customer.

Each Question Should Have Only FIVE Answer Choices

  • Answers to the questions should focus around the five most desired or useful answers.

  • For example, if asking ‘annual widget volume’ present values to check that identify volume levels of most relevance such as ‘over 1,000 widgets, 500-999 widgets, etc., as opposed to allowing free text entry. These ranges will help with indexing and reporting later.

Tip #3- Avoid Custom Development

Understand the Available Standard Functionality

  • With each release, the standard functionality inside Salesforce continues to evolve, depending on the version being utilized.

  • We often see companies fail to use many available system objects such as Quotes, Entitlements, Projects, Assets, Content and Contracts (to name a few) that are standard features and could provide tremendous benefit.

Identify Possible Apps

  • The Salesforce App Exchange contains pre-built programs that can be added onto your system very easily. Before the App Exchange made this possible, extensive customization and development was required.

  • Scheduling, project management, human resources, call-center integration and many other tools can now be found in easy to install and configure Apps that require no custom coding or development work.

Tip #4- Less is More

Our Experience is that Most Companies Use Fewer than 33% of Fields

  • Many CRM systems are filled with hundreds of fields that are never used or updated.

  • Our research has shown that only one third of available data fields in CRM systems are updated on more than 5% of the total records; one third of fields are used less than 5% of the time and another third are never used.

  • There are many reasons fields do not end up being used- but the major reason is that someone suggested it to collect very obscure or non-relevant data.

Every Field Needs an Owner

  • Related to the -object captain approach- this guideline dictates that if a field is created to capture information in the CRM system, someone needs to be responsible to capture the data for the field.

  • Adding numerous fields for others you hope will fill in something is a wasted effort. Frequently, one manager may decide that another department 'should' update certain fields. A marketer may want information capture for all kinds of attributes which burdens a salesperson with data entry they will often refuse to comply with.

Tip #5- Data Management & User Training are Critical

Master Data Management Strategy

  • CRM systems need a Master Data Management Strategy that delivers 100% data integrity. Without data integrity, users will abandon the use of the system in droves because they cannot trust the data.

  • A Master Data Management Strategy ensures record hygiene, address correction updates and most importantly- a process to merge or remove duplicate records that accumulate.

Comprehensive User Training

  • The landscape is littered with CRM systems that have been configured and pushed out to organizations with little or no training in how to use the system. Often, a system is rolled out at a national meeting, but with little one-on-one user training or follow-up to reinforce use.

  • Ensure you have an ongoing plan for training use of the system, new features and newly hired users.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. Examples cited in this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world situations as they are based only on limited and dated open source information. Salesforce®, Salesforce1 Mobile App™, AppExchange®, Sales Cloud®, Marketing Cloud®, Service Cloud®, are trademarks of, inc.

© 2018 Edgemont CRM, LLC. All Rights Reserved – April 2018

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