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May the Force be with you: How to Successfully Rollout Salesforce

By slally 05.06.15

As any seasoned consultant may tell you, the technical portion of introducing a new application such as Salesforce is often not the highest barrier to entry in an organization. Far more challenging, oftentimes, is finding a meaningful place for that solution in the client’s culture and the day-to-day functions of individual users.

In today’s market businesses need to see quick and predictable return on investment in order to gauge a project’s success, but how can we ensure an accurate measurement of ROI if we are not certain users are taking full advantage of the system? We simply market to them as we would to our customers and entice their participation. But how, one may ask, do we effectively market an internal application to entrenched employees? We embrace the wisdom of Elmer Wheeler – sell them the sizzle, not the steak.

At Silverline, we try to stress that organizational change management surrounding a Salesforce launch is as imperative as the technology itself. In order to help our constituents succeed on the platform we need to help them understand its importance, its value, and what is it in it for them at the end of the day. Some firms find this is easiest with carrots (perceived benefits) and others find the stick approach more appealing (a “wall of shame” for those not logging activities, etc…). The distinction is largely cultural and unique to an organization. However, my experience has been that employees who co-opt management’s vision based upon a perceived benefit are more likely to truly embrace the solution. This does not necessarily mean a direct correlation between adoption and compensation; the simple notion that an overworked administrative employee will no longer need to worry about coming in on Saturdays is likely more than enough motivation to achieve buy-in.

We recently launched a customized Salesforce solution for a well-known investment banking client and were lucky enough to see this type of executive endorsement and call for buy-in executed in a way that dwarfed any rollout we know of. The executive sponsor of this organization was so aware of the need to achieve buy-in that on day four of a year-long project he had already arranged for his marketing team to meet with our consultants. This dialog continued throughout the project.

As rollout approached, a series of tailored messages were delivered to prime the curiosity of users and build excitement; 90 days ahead, 60 days, 30 days, 15, messages with the familiar Salesforce / Star Wars tie-in were circulated. In the background, training was already occurring for a group of in-house experts dubbed “Obi Wans” so that they could answer their peers’ questions and advocate for the solution.

Finally, the week before go-live, the project team and “Obi Wans” divided forces and descended upon the client’s offices in multiple cities and countries at once, all wearing polo shirts branded for the launch. They provided comprehensive training, which was always preceded by a short video clip from a C-level executive endorsing the importance of the solution, and also had the chance to create a dialog with the new user community. Specific training curricula were tailored and delivered depending upon a user’s role in the firm in order to clearly address to the day-to-day pain points of individuals and the gains of Salesforce.

The sizzle that appeals to administrative users is not the same as the sizzle for executive users. Particularly in the investment banking world, finding a way to transplant data from the minds of senior leadership into the system is critical. Therefore, for firm officers, it was decided that a different approach was needed. Having gathered at the client’s headquarters for their annual officers’ meeting, over 100 vice-presidents and managing directors were invited to breakfast and a specialized Salesforce launch at an off-site space. In keeping with the Star Wars tie-in, the space itself looked as if it belonged on the planet Endor and ewoks might emerge at any time. It was dramatically backlit and, in addition to its already-unique appearance, decorated in posters of familiar Star Wars characters, though their faces were those of firm attendees. The presentation was kicked off by a five minute video starring senior leadership that set the tone for the entire rollout – it was hilarious, creative and, most importantly, made a very strong point regarding the value of Salesforce in these peoples’ every day lives. They were hooked.

Following go-live, project team members and Obi Wans continued to visit regional offices for several weeks, wearing their branded polos, in order to answer questions and maintain the high energy level and positive perception. All of this fostered the idea that this firm cared about its bottom line, but also cared deeply about employee satisfaction. Each user received a tailored message about Salesforce improving their work experience and that resonated at every level.

While this type of spectacle may not fit with every client, the important point is that it is never too early to plan for go-live and ensure that your Silverline-designed solution is fully utilized by those for whom it was built. As financial services experts we have seen deployments that were remarkably successful and those that, sadly, were not and we are eager to share those lessons with our clients.

To learn more about Silverline’s services offerings, click here.


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