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8 Steps for Ensuring a Successful Salesforce Implementation

8 Steps for Ensuring a Successful Salesforce Implementation
Source: Image created by OpenAI’s DALL-E, March 18, 2024

Why Advanced Preparation is Critical

Salesforce has the power to transform your business, catapult sales, and drive strong customer relationships. When the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform is properly implemented, organizations can create a 360 view of their customers, enhance their marketing ROI, increase deal closure rates and velocity,  improve customer retention, and achieve greater precision in their forecasting.

However, many organizations fail to realize these benefits. This isn’t due to CRM platforms themselves. It’s often because people haven’t done the right advanced work needed to set themselves up for success. As a result, according to Forrester:

  • 68% of CRM users struggle with getting a single view of the customer
  • 48% struggle with creating customer insights to drive decision-making
  • 29% have a hard time gaining cooperation across the organization to support CRM improvement projects
  • 15% find it difficult to make business changes

Setting yourself up for success 

A successful Salesforce implementation requires a strategic, methodical, and collaborative approach. Here are 8 key steps to help prepare you for the Salesforce implementation process.

1. Identify Salesforce implementation stakeholders

Salesforce can benefit users across your organization – but only if you know exactly what they want to achieve. Begin by identifying stakeholders from  each relevant department – such as sales, marketing, fiance, and customer success. These people will be responsible for gathering input from their teams, communicating goals and progress, and acting as a liaison to the Salesforce operations team during the preparation and implementation phases and likely beyond to everyday operations.  

2. Set specific goals

Once the key stakeholders with a vested interest in the Salesforce implementation project have been identified, it’s time to consult with them to define the project’s objectives. Asking questions such as “What does success look like?” and “To what extent does your team encounter recurring issues?” can help determine the inefficiencies in the current processes and identify the specific features of Salesforce that have piqued their interest.  

The primary purpose of this stage is to pinpoint the areas where changes can have the most significant impact, thereby alleviating the most pressing problems. This approach can help set priorities and ensure that the objectives of the various stakeholders align effectively. It is critical to have a clear vision of the project’s goals before moving forward with the process.

Make sure to follow these SMART guidelines for goal-setting:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-based
Source: Unsplash

3. Develop a realistic budget

Your Salesforce strategy will likely be shared by your available budget.  Having a clear understanding of your organization’s expectations can guide the selection of the appropriate features and pricing structures. 

However, keep in mind there are many elements that go into determining overall costs:

  • CRM license pricing
  • Consulting fees
  • Customization expenses
  • Data migration costs
  • System integration
  • End-user training
  • After-launch support

4. Choose an implementation partner 

Salesforce implementations are inherently complex. To help ensure success, many companies work with Salesforce-certified partners. Qualified partners can:

  • Provide guidance on a Salesforce solution that meets your needs
  • Advise on optimal Salesforce pricing 
  • Recommend AppExchange apps to consider in lieu of custom development
  • Ensure your solution is technically sound to avoid future challenges with updates, data modeling, security, and over-customization
  • Mitigate risks related to the project’s scope, timeline, and budget
  • Address change management 
  • Establish post-implementation maintenance processes that include critical tasks such as Salesforce data backups, software updates, security audits, and user support

In addition to evaluating their Salesforce expertise, make sure to collaborate with a partner who has experience working with companies that are similar to yours in size, geography, and industry.

Source: Unsplash

5. Develop a change management strategy

Introducing a new CRM often means big changes to organizational and user behavior and processes. It’s not unusual to encounter user confusion and resistance. With a well-planned change management strategy, you can ensure a smoother transition, higher adoption rates, and ultimately, the success of your Salesforce project.

Best practices for Salesforce change management

  • Secure executive sponsorship and change advocates
    Executive sponsors can champion the project, provide necessary resources, and influence positive change across the organization.

    You’ll also want to identify and empower change champions within each department. These people can advocate for the Salesforce project, assist their colleagues with the transition, and act as a bridge between the project team and the rest of the organization.
  • Engage users early
    Stakeholder involvement: Identify and engage key stakeholders from every department affected by the Salesforce implementation. Their early involvement ensures their needs and concerns are addressed, increasing buy-in and support.
  • Map out the change process
    Develop a detailed plan that outlines the steps of the Salesforce implementation, including timelines, milestones, and expected outcomes. This plan should be communicated to all involved parties to set clear expectations. This can help prepare your organization for the change and minimize any potential disruptions.
  • Encourage feedback and foster a positive culture for change
    Encourages employees to voice their concerns and seek clarification about the changes as soon as they are announced. An anonymous feedback system can be useful in obtaining candid responses. 

    Remember, resistance to change is natural. Address concerns openly and provide clear, honest answers. Show empathy and work collaboratively to find solutions to any issues that arise. Recognize and reward flexibility and innovation among team members.
  • Highlight quick wins
    Identify and communicate quick wins early in the implementation process. Highlighting these successes can build momentum and demonstrate the tangible benefits of Salesforce CRM for your organization.
Source: Unsplash

6. Commit to training personnel  

Training is a crucial component of a successful Salesforce implementation – both before, during, and after roll-out. In fact, 53% of organizations say that having better CRM onboarding and training would make their CRM system much more effective.

Skimping on training or doing it ineffectively can lead to lower adoption rates and overwhelming amounts of user errors. If either of these happen, you won’t achieve the outcomes your business needs. 

Best practice for organizations implementing Saelsforce for the first time is to contract with either your third-party implementation partner or another Salesforce training organization. 

Make sure you design comprehensive training sessions tailored to different user groups within your organization. Offer continuous support and resources to help users adapt to the new capabilities.

7. Implement a phased rollout with a defined feedback plan

One of the greatest benefits of using Salesforce is the wide range of possibilities it offers. However, its extensive capabilities can sometimes be overwhelming, leading to poor user adoption. To address this issue, introduce new features and elements slowly, allowing employees to adjust at their own pace.

Present a few features to each group in the initial rollout. Then check in with users to gauge their response and make any necessary adjustments before introducing any additional processes or features.

Make sure to develop a feedback plan with your implementation partner upfront. You’ll want to ensure expectations are being met once they’ve rolled out some functionality or implemented a proof of concept. 

Note that any feedback linked directly to an explicit requirement should be considered within the project scope and be implemented as part of a shorter build phase. If it falls outside the scope, the changes may need to be postponed and are likely to affect the overall project schedule.  

8. Pause before pushing the button

To ensure a smooth rollout, we recommend you:

  • Conduct extensive quality assurance in advance to uncover errors caused by missing components, outdated elements in the sandbox, broken workflows, etc.
  • From the start of deployment until all post-deployment checks have been completed, ensure that email deliverability in ‘Setup’ is disabled or set to ‘System Email’ only, double-checking with your Implementation Partner.
  • Consider the impact on users and determine the best time to deploy.  
  • Perform a brief run-through of critical features after completing post-deployment processes to ensure that the system is performing as planned.

Making your team a part of your Salesforce strategy

It is important to recognize that the success or failure of a Salesforce implementation ultimately depends on the team responsible for its adoption.

CRM deployments often fail to deliver expected results because employees don’t use the CRM. They don’t understand the value that CRM can impart to their jobs. They also often don’t know how to use the CRM features because of inadequate training.


By following the above steps, you can ensure your organization is well-prepared and that your implementation can deliver the changes your business needs. 

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