Global Salesforce Deployments: 4,000 Lessons Learned


Share on LinkedIn

How do you deploy to 4,000 people? Very carefully.

To wit: Cloud Sherpas has been helping a large company roll out Salesforce to 4,000 employees, and our putting a change management strategy in place for the business has been crucial to the project’s success. In particular, it’s helped the business calculate project returns, reduce project implementation time and cost, and foster high levels of user adoption, which is the most critical success factor for any CRM project.

What’s the best way to put a large-scale change management program in place? Based on Cloud Sherpas’s project experiences, we recommend you start with these 9 best practices:

1. Create User-Focused CRM Strategy

At a high level, keep every aspect of your CRM project user-focused. That means designing all parts of the project with the user positioned as the “center of purpose,” including user testing–prior to deployment–as well as training that details to users how the new software will become a crucial part of how they do their job.

2. Designate An Internal Champion

Want to stoke enthusiasm, involvement, and keep everyone who’s involved in the project in the loop? Then select an internal project champion. This person should be responsible for relaying all project updates, offering solid advice for how people should prepare for the new software, and in general, being an enthusiastic voice for the project.

3. Don’t Just Speak American

During any implementation, pay attention to all stakeholders. For this project, for example, the company was based in the United States, together with about 80% of the CRM project team. Even so, half of the 4,000 employees to be trained hailed from outside North America. These largely European teams worried that the U.S. project team didn’t understand their way of doing business, and furthermore was trying to tell them how to do their job.

From a user-adoption and project success standpoint, any ill will is dangerous. Accordingly, we hired a change management expert–based in the United Kingdom–to serve as our interface with the European teams. This move lead to demonstrable increases in goodwill, and also helped us construct training that was tailored to each region, which had further user-adoption upsides.

4. Understand Benefits Via Business Processes

How will a CRM project benefit users, as well as the business at large? Answering that question requires understanding both the before and after business processes. In the case of the 4,000-employee project, the company had documented numerous salespeople “day in the life” scenarios, but it hadn’t detailed how specific business practices worked.

As a result, there was no organizational understanding of how opportunity management, for example, worked from beginning to end. Without that kind of understanding, the business wouldn’t be able to show salespeople –during training– how the software would address their pain points and make their lives easier. From a higher-level perspective, it would be difficult for the business to calculate the increased efficiency, time-savings, and user-adoption levels.

5. Accelerate Adoption Via CRM Excellence Framework

In fact, many organizations don’t have defined business processes, or even when they do, they’re rarely documented. But what if an organization lacks the time and resources to document these processes during a CRM project?

Then look to Cloud Sherpas’ CRM Excellence Framework, which we developed based on the CRM best practices we’ve gleaned from thousands of projects, across nearly every industry. Using the framework, organizations can see the most important best practices for their industry, then select the ones they find most applicable, which helps increase their project implementation speed and results, no matter the project size.

6. Train Your Heart Out

What’s the best way to ensure that your training regimen has maximum impact? Besides telling people what’s in it for them, always tailor the materials to the needs of each group that will use the system. For this project, we customized the training materials for each geography and business unit, the better to “sell” Salesforce. So while we began with a template, we gave it minor tweaks, customizing terminology, grammar, and customer examples, to ensure the materials were fresh for each group of users, whether that was accounting in Britain or France; tele-sales in Belgium or Canada; or field sales in Australia or the United States.

When training a large organization, also use a mix of large group meetings and breakout sessions. Because while there are some common organizational messages that can be delivered in a group session, you’ll get more bang for your buck–and users wanting to adopt the software–if you detail business-unit-specific scenarios in breakout sessions.

7. Make Training Materials Keep Delivering

We’ve found that when delivering training, four types of training materials are essential:

  • Facilitation guides: For the people who actually stood at the front of the room and delivered training. These guides included hints, anticipating questions, as well as comments that would help lead the audience to think along the right lines and ask the right questions.
  • End-user guides: Customized by region and function, these highlighted for users how their everyday tasks–opportunity management, territory management, account management–could be quickly and easily handled in Salesforce.
  • Short videos: Running between 3 and 5 minutes in length, we used these to emphasize important concepts.
  • Cheat sheets: How can you handle important tasks in Salesforce? These guides provide a quick and easy reference, especially once employees return to the field.

8. Tie Training Development To Project Implementation Milestones

During the course of a project, if there are implementation delays, then allow training schedules to flex. Because for developing and delivering user training, you’ll want to base all materials–and live demonstrations–on a version of the system that’s as near to what will go into production as possible. Employees are much happier if their training matches up with how the system actually functions.

9. Monitor User Adoption

Throughout the project, keep an eye on user adoption levels to help identify any unexpected obstacles. After each stage of training–progressively, typically moving from super-users, to managers, to front-line personnel across regions and functions–survey users. Listen to what they’re saying. Are the examples relevant? Is the data that’s been loaded into the system of high enough quality? Have trainers correctly articulated how the new software will become a key part of their job?

Use this feedback to spot and address any obstacles, potentially by redesigning the software, revising training, increasing data quality, or perhaps putting new processes in place that hold employees accountable for using the new software.

Change Management Essentials

In a nutshell, the above 9 best practices, including a well-designed change management program, will help any organization–large or small–ensure that their employees both adopt and get the most from their new Salesforce software.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here