Salesforce experts share tips for ensuring a smooth implementation

Salesforce Marketing Cloud experts give suggestions on what you need to do to have an easy and successful implementation.

Chat with MarTechBot

Marketing technology is a big investment for businesses. If an implementation goes off the rails, the costs go up even higher. To ensure a smooth implementation, organizations have to communicate the value of the new technology and present a clear roadmap to everybody involved. This process continues throughout the implementation and pays off after the kickoff.

Implementations can be scrapped at any time

Let’s say your business signed a contract for a new marketing platform. You’ve even had a kickoff meeting with leaders and key users in the organization. This doesn’t mean a smooth implementation is guaranteed.

In the current business climate, key people change jobs and new people come on board through mergers and acquisitions. If the groundwork for a smooth transition isn’t in place ahead of time, last-minute changes could mean disaster for the implementation.

Kirsten Schlau, director and Salesforce Marketing Cloud practice lead at martech consultancy Sercante, saw one such implementation go up in smoke when a client she advised acquired a new company. The incumbent IT team had signed a two-year contract for Marketing Cloud. After the acquisition, the IT team from the acquired company replaced the IT team that signed the contract, and these new IT people preferred another marketing platform. Lost in the conversation was the business value being wasted by not using Marketing Cloud, which the organization had already paid for.

“That’s impacting ROI for the organization as a whole, and probably the CEO had no clue,” Schlau said.

For a successful implementation, key leaders have to be on board with the new technology. And the messages about benefits have to trickle down to their teams.

Communicating value to all users

“We saw in the latest edition of our own State of Marketing report, adoption is one of those key areas that businesses are really homing in on,” said Jay Wilder, VP product marketing, Marketing Cloud at Salesforce. “What happens after the sale? How do we make sure we drive the value we talk about within the buyer’s journey and bring it to actuality?”

Businesses should draft a business value model to show the revenue and increased productivity the new technology will generate over time. Significant stages of the implementation are mapped on a timeline, so team members know where they are currently and where they’re heading in the future.

Most importantly, this “benefit narrative” is an ongoing communication that can get started long before the kickoff and helps keep teams aligned as the implementation gets underway.

Combining short-term wins with long-term vision

“I think there’s a lot of urgency right now for business leaders that are making technology decisions to be able to show value, not in years’ times, but in the next three months, six months and nine months,” Wilder said. 

He added: “What does that roadmap of delivery look like with the new technology investment and what are the different use cases for the business that, tangibly, it is going to support? How do we bring the business along with this, so that we all understand what those steps in the transformation look like, in a short time frame?”

Understanding the long-range impact of technology is part of the conversation in organizations, especially with Data Cloud and Einstein AI, where new capabilities continue to roll out.

Dig deeper: Salesforce updates Einstein 1 Platform with unified business data

“There is an aspect of this that is long-term — how will this work over many years?” Wilder explained. “But then we have to bring it back down to earth.”

To prepare for a smooth implementation, organizations should prioritize use cases and group them according to a fixed time frame. This way, team members will know what to expect in 90 days, or six months, after the kickoff.

“The organization will begin to understand that behind this decision to bring in a new technology, this is what it’s going to do for our business and here’s the timeline,” said Wilder.

For example, if the organization is in the healthcare industry, a new marketing platform might be used to reduce the number of dropped appointments, saving lost revenue with every appointment it saves. This is a tangible benefit to the business that all team members can understand.

Aligning stakeholders and identifying knowledge gaps

Increasingly, businesses are using multiple platforms related to marketing. Some technologies, especially data storage and management, extend across many departments in an organization. This means that leadership, as well as individual users, have to be aligned at all stages of the journey, from pre-sale to implementation.

For the kickoff, key leaders on the marketing, IT and data teams should be present at the meeting.

The implementation should also include any implementation partners or consultants, Wilder said.

“Things are changing all the time,” said Schlau. “The best-in-class organizations truly understand from a business perspective why they are doing this and why it’s important. And these messages trickle down as part of the buyer journey with individual users…getting buy-in.”

“The ideal situation is to have that practitioner lead involved in the pre-implementation process,” said Wilder. “This person and their team are going to be the ones actually working in the new platform. It’s really important to take the time to help those folks who are working within the technology itself so they understand the value and how it works.”

There’s a chance that some individuals don’t know how to use the technology for specific use cases. This can cause a bumpy road when the implementation is underway. So, before and during the implementation, leaders should also be in communication with their teams to discover any knowledge gaps, or specific skills that need training.

“Maybe the entire full practical team isn’t involved in [the kickoff] but we try to at least bring in who the owner of the technology is on a day-to-day basis,” said Wilder. “Once you start moving into implementation, you almost need to replay it for the wider audience. Catch everybody up to speed on why we’re doing this, here’s what we have in terms of change management and support, and a plan to help everybody adopt this technology.”


About the author

Chris Wood
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country's first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on "innovation theater" at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.