This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Dreamforce 2018 conference highlights and key takeaways

Salesforce Circles of Success help SMBs get up to speed

Circles of Success participants connect with other Salesforce users to swap challenges, tips and tricks for rolling out the platform in their businesses.

Salesforce Circles of Success is a small-meeting format aimed at helping SMBs evaluate how to best adopt the Salesforce suite of tools to grow their business and connect to non-Salesforce applications in the enterprise IT stacks. These sessions also enable Salesforce customers to connect with each other to share experiences and tips.

The key takeaway from a Salesforce Circles of Success discussion at Dreamforce was to focus on how Salesforce for small businesses can automate business processes and save employees time. Good metrics should focus on how a Salesforce implementation can enable the company to be more strategic in managing change or enabling its reps to be more effective. This requires knowing how business processes work. A good vision and metrics that add value to the business can then help to inform a roadmap for prioritizing next steps.

For the Salesforce Circles of Success panel, Cole Watanabe, portfolio success manager at Salesforce, walked a group through some best practices for succeeding with an SMB Salesforce launch and took the time to customize some recommended next steps.

Identify implementation goals

One Salesforce Circles of Success participant, Charlotte Magne, business consultant for IT solutions provider Releye in Sweden, sought guidance on the data management aspects of integrating Salesforce into a life science app.

Another participant, Wilhelm Bielert, chief digital officer of agriculture and material handling supplier at Premier Tech in Quebec, wanted to update an aging Microsoft Dynamics CRM infrastructure that was difficult to integrate with other enterprise apps. He wants Premier Tech to be able to innovate more quickly, but this is difficult with the company's assortment of different enterprise apps.

"Some systems like HR don't work, and some work but not optimally, like Microsoft Dynamics," Bielert said.

Get a framework in place

While it may be tempting for an SMB to just dive into Salesforce, it's a good idea to take the time to do a little groundwork, both in terms of evaluating your company's immediate needs and planning a roadmap for the future.

A good starting place is to set a vision for implementation, enabling stakeholders to think through the different ways better CRM data integration can add value.

"It is important to have a framework in place to plan and execute and make sure you have certain things checked off," Watanabe said.

A good starting place is to set a vision for implementation, enabling stakeholders to think through the different ways better CRM data integration can add value.

Another Salesforce Circles of Success participant from a department in a large aerospace firm wanted to figure out how to bring all data related to deals from different apps, such as email and spreadsheets, into a shared and secured central location.

Create success metrics

Once the vision is in place, it is important to create three to five success metrics -- measurable benchmarks to help teams think about ways of adapting Salesforce implementation to move toward their shared vision. These could include items such as ensuring collaboration is in one tool, aligning with other collaboration tools, such as Slack, or enabling a team or different department to access data in the same system.

For example, Bielert wanted to define a simple architectural roadmap for Premier Tech to make it easier to integrate processes that cross accounting and sales apps. Creating a metric around this might involve measuring the time to implement new workflows.

Other good business metrics could include measuring how much time employees spend completing frequent tasks.

One good practice is for teams to work together to build a persona that represents the way typical employees interact with apps. Managers may not be aware that sales reps need to do 15 clicks to complete what should be a simple process.

 "A lot of time, companies don't think about this and may be wasting some time," Watanabe said.

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