How to Avoid the Hidden Costs of the Best CRMs

Salesforce added another award for Best CRM Software this week. Business New Daily’s award could easily leave an Entrepreneur with the impression that launching a great Salesforce instance was quick, easy and limited to the cost of the software seat and a little dev work.

However, without expertise, adequate resources and commitment, CRM executions become flawed and more expensive. The best CRM plan requires a soul-searching analysis of your business and pristine clarity of its total cost and complexity.

“Salesforce Makes it Easy…” CRM Nirvana or Fake News?

Companies invest in Salesforce to recognize greater efficiency and faster growth. How many companies end up disappointed, unable to fully implement or manage the changes required to succeed, and burdened with unforeseen costs? The answer may be more than you can find in a Google search.

Salesforce creates its own buzz by investing nearly half of its annual $15 billion dollars of revenue back into marketing and sales. Over 10 years, this investment has allowed Salesforce to develop into the most powerful and successful marketing campaign in the history of B2B.

What you are unlikely to find on the web or hear in the sales pitch is the complexity, full associated costs, and commitment required to launch, customize and manage the platform to your organization’s needs.

Getting ROI Out of Your CRM

Does your team have the best plan, resources, executive commitment and change-management experience required to succeed? The first step to success with Salesforce is embracing its complexity and ensuring you have the insight and resources required. An important ROI consideration is the on-going cost of the software, administration, custom development and training required as well as the initial disruption to an existing organization. You will need experts to incorporate the add-on applications and to create and manage the business practices that align with the software.

The size of Salesforce’s own user guide speaks directly to the skills, expertise and commitment required to make it all work. The “How to Be Successful with Salesforce” user guide is 5,573 pages and uses the word “simple” 139 times.

Understanding Total Costs

Salesforce applications can integrate marketing, sales, support, business intelligence and finance. They allow you to manage your organization with maximum efficiency based on timely and actionable data. Applications make the system more compelling, but also more expensive and complex. Data intensive applications are often sold individually based on ‘units’ of storage and not inherently bundled for cost efficiency. Application expenses are in addition to each employees’ “per seat” cost; prices range from $25 to $300 per month. The most expensive Salesforce seat is the only one with full support. The budget package is limited to 5 seats for $25 per month, the price jumps to $65 for additional seats. It’s not uncommon for a Salesforce instance with applications and support to cost ~$200 a month.

3 Considerations Before Committing to Salesforce:

1. Is your organization ready for change? Be ready to transform both culture and processes. This includes adding experienced professionals required to customize and manage Salesforce. You’ll need to adopt and manage the processes required to win — the processes are not just technical. Sales management will need to adopt practices that maximize lead conversion. Salesforce Admins and Developers are key to your success. If you can’t hire and manage them, be prepared to hire consulting firms who are equipped to position you for success. Many people “know Salesforce” but few are experts in the entire platform. Look for people with multiple Salesforce Certifications.

2. Have you considered all the Apps that you’ll need to succeed? Salesforce built the Salesforce AppExchange, a 3rd party marketplace that’s filled with apps that range from data append tools to contract generators to map plotters that plan sales rep’s driving routes.

3. Do you understand all the data requirements and costs? It’s possible to manage your Salesforce data within their ecosystem, however 3rd party data-loaders are recommended for importing and merging large datasets. Data-loaders help prevent duplicate records while enabling mass merges.

Alternatives to Building and Managing CRM Sales and Marketing

Technology has made growing a business more science and less art. Lead generation, nurturing and sales conversion are growing more competitive, costly and complex. The last mile to CRM success is the sales talent required to execute and a sales organization’s ability to maximize opportunities are more time sensitive and difficult than ever.

Do you have an environment that will attract the best sales and marketing talent? If not, consider the alternatives below to mitigate the risk and costs.

3 Alternatives to Scaling Sales and Marketing Internally:

1. Marketing Agencies that specialize in lead generation and can deliver leads to your sales team. Quality and conversion rates are a primary concern if you disconnect lead generation from sales.

2. Call / Contact Centers that can deliver appointments and sell. The quality of the initial contact is a primary concern when considering call centers. The opportunity to either set qualified appointments or close deals can be easily compromised if they aren’t well nurtured.

3. Less complicated CRM software. Some are specialized in sales or marketing and can enhance productivity without requiring a “transformation”. If you’re just looking for a productivity boost with minimal disruptions, sales technology can play a more limited role and operate successfully without integrating with other parts of the organization.

Unfortunately, none of these options offer an integrated, holistic or strategic approach that can solve some of the issues you may be facing.

A better alternative to building your in-house team may be a partner that can align their interests with yours. When considering an integrated marketing and sales partner, the firm should be able to offer technical expertise, strategic support and execution skills across a broad spectrum of the top sales and marketing acceleration tools. HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, Zoho, Pardot, Marketo and many others may offer tools that enhance ROI that are simpler yet as effective for your organization.

Making a Choice

If your business is prepared to make the financial and organizational commitment to Salesforce, it can be transformative. But, if you’re re-evaluating the impact of your implementation, partnering with subject experts can accelerate your access to better talent, proven processes and a faster path to success. Either way, don’t fall for the marketing hype, get informed and understand the true and complete expense associated with your decision.

Written by David Pachter — Executive Chairman of JumpCrew, helping companies scale revenues through integrated marketing and sales partnerships. Founder of JumpByDesign, helping leaders accelerate achievement @DavidPachter

About JumpCrew

JumpCrew is a professional sales and marketing organization dedicated to growing our partners businesses. JumpCrew’s mission is to leverage online technologies to accelerate our partner clients’ offline sales. Providing both lead gen solutions and inside sales resources, JumpCrew seamlessly converts leads into opportunities and ensures clients maximum lead conversion.

Stephanie Jules

Author Stephanie Jules

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