Did I really just say that Salesforce sucks? It actually doesn’t – but you’d be surprised how often I hear this.

And every time that I do, I die a little bit inside. Salesforce is probably one of the greatest digital tools on the planet at the moment. It has revolutionized the way sales, service, and marketing work together to improve the customer experience in just about every way. Yet despite that, “Salesforce sucks” continues to be uttered again and again.

working woman at laptop looking stressed

Why is such an incredible tool derided so often? That’s easy. Salesforce is SO awesome that it can easily be configured to suck. You might be thinking “wait, what?” Let me explain. Salesforce is hands-down the most configurable, extensible, and product-rich Customer Relationship Management platform on the market. Virtually every part of your Salesforce instance can be configured to your liking. And that’s an awesome amount of flexibility and power.

However, you need to go through the necessary steps to unlock that power. Out-of-the-box Salesforce leaves quite a bit to be desired. And this is where the “Salesforce sucks” comments often come from. It’s like buying a box of Lego, dumping it onto the carpet, and then proclaiming “Lego Sucks!” Well yeah, out of the box, without any configuration, Lego sucks. When you put all the right pieces in all the right places, THEN you have something.

This is what I see so often from organizations that have Salesforce. They don’t take the time to iteratively improve their Salesforce instance. They’ve maybe gone through an initial discovery, worked with a vendor, or internal IT resources, determined how to they wanted Salesforce set up, launched it, and then… nothing. This isn’t the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie. There’s no Ron Popeil telling you that you can “Set it and Forget It!” (I hope you’ve all just replayed that infomercial in your heads.)

To unlock the power of your CRM you need to take an iterative approach to continuous improvement. You need to revisit the way you’ve set up your page layouts, your data architecture, your reports, your dashboards, process automation, permissions, and so on to ensure you have continual alignment with your users. This is to not only to realize the return on your Salesforce investment but to also continually earn equity with your users and spread knowledge about Salesforce.

Last year I went on a golf trip with a dear friend of mine who is a senior-level sales leader at a global brand. He’s a big wig. Over beers, he uttered the dreaded phrase “Salesforce sucks.” He went on to tell me how every year as he’s preparing for the big annual sales meeting – the meeting where the entire year is planned out and decided on – he exports data out of Salesforce, brings it into excel, and then spends days creating pivot tables and reports to “get the numbers” he needs.

My jaw hit the floor. Of course, I tried to extol the virtues of my beloved Salesforce platform to him, telling him how these numbers should all be in a dashboard with real-time data available to him at the click of a button, but it did little good. He was already soured on the platform. And all because no one spent the time to ask him what he really needs out of Salesforce.

And it doesn’t end there. Even in my own house there is no reprieve from the Salesforce haters. During this pandemic, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing an office space with my lovely wife. She’s a senior-level executive at a global engineering firm that uses Salesforce. Given we have a reasonably small home office, I’m often unintentionally listening to her conversations. “Salesforce sucks” has all too often been a topic of conversation as she struggles to deal with a poorly configured environment that doesn’t do what she thinks it should do, resulting in more instead of less work for her and others on her team.

These are all missed opportunities to supercharge Salesforce, increase user adoption, and improve operational efficiencies, yet they are squandered. Ron Popeil has convinced organizations that they can “Set It and Forget It!”

The good news is it’s never the wrong time to start improving. You can fix your Salesforce implementation, increase your return on your Salesforce investment, and improve your users’ experience. You can even turn those detractors into evangelists by including them in the process.

Work closely with the loudest negative voices. Listen to their pain points and make a plan to solve that pain. Remember that it’s okay to iterate. Just because something was a good idea once, doesn’t mean it’s still a good idea. (Remember Zima?) Be willing to challenge the assumptions you made previously about what your users need and be pragmatic about how you plan to address new challenges. And be sure to socialize your plan to reinvigorate Salesforce within your organization. Be loud and proud about your desire to improve life for your users.

And with any luck, I’ll never hear “Salesforce sucks” again. Because it doesn’t. It’s a game-changer.

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Article by Michael Grant, Chief Customer Officer at TMD