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Mike Lieberman
  July 25, 2018

Is Salesforce.com Costing You Too Much Money?

An Influx Of New CRM Solutions And Integrated MarTech Tools Means You Have More Choices

Back in the day (even five or six years ago), if you wanted a top-notch, enterprise-level CRM system that your company could grow into, Salesforce.com was your only option.

Yes, lower-end CRM systems were available. Zoho, Infusionsoft, Insightly and Freshsales CRM are highly affordable but questionable in terms of features, expansion capabilities, integration and the ability to customize to fit your company. Typically, the cheaper the product, the less flexibility you get. More flexibility requires a higher investment.

But today, you have much better options for CRM. Fast-growing mid-size and smaller businesses are able to get great feature sets without having to pay Salesforce.com licensing and implementation costs.

First, whether you’re paying too much for your Salesforce.com application is going to be 100% relative to the value you get from it. If you pay $30,000 a month, that might be well worth the cost to your company. But if you’re paying $3,000 a month, that might be more than you need to pay, and you may have alternatives you’re unaware of today.

Here are some questions to ask your team to assess if you’re overpaying for your sales technology solutions.

What is the adoption rate across the entire company?

Your sales and marketing team should live in your CRM system. Your executives should be looking at deal status on a regular basis. If revenue is the lifeblood of an organization, then your CRM system is your circulatory system. If it’s not flowing, you’re not going to live.

Salespeople love keeping information outside of the CRM. Is that happening in your company? Are your salespeople handling prospects in an inconsistent way? Do they have their own spreadsheets to keep track of opportunities? It might be an indication that your CRM is too cumbersome or requires them to do too much manual entry.

Salespeople should be in your CRM system all day long, every day. Every email should be tracked, every proposal should be stored and every deal should be updated in the CRM.

Once you get 100% adoption across your entire company, you’ll start to see some incredible data points, like pipeline value and length of sales cycle. You’ll also get accurate reporting on close rates for proposals submitted and an understanding of where your best leads (those that close quickly, spend more money and turn into your best customers) are coming from. The insights are critical to proactively managing today’s fast-moving, fast-growing business.

How complex is your sales process? Is that sales process documented, trained on and evaluated regularly?

If you don’t have a documented sales process, and if your sales process is not in a flow chart format, your sales process is likely not as detailed as necessary. Your sales process also needs to be built into your CRM system. If your Salesforce.com installation does not accurately represent your current sales process, then you’re not using your CRM to its full extent, and you’re not getting full value for your investment.

In a related manner, you should be looking at your sales process as a system that is constantly iterated on, and you should be looking at ways to continually upgrade the process. Then, those upgrades should be added into your CRM to make sure that everyone across your entire sales team is executing in the same way, every time.

To create a scalable, repeatable and predictable sales process that produces forecastable results, CRM is a mandatory tool. If you’re not using your CRM for your sales process, you’re likely not seeing the kind of results you should be seeing from your entire sales effort.

Installing your sales process (in detail) into your CRM drives measurable results that are dramatic. In some client cases, we’ve seen 2x improvement on close rates and a 50% decrease in sales cycle length, both of which produced dramatic revenue gains.

Are you using it for marketing and customer service? Or just for sales?

Today, most of these software systems provide tools for marketing in addition to sales. Salesforce.com, HubSpot, Infusionsoft, Zoho and others all talk about being able to help with both marketing and sales, but in most cases these tools are not all created equally. Again, the key is to understand in detail exactly what you need your CRM and marketing automation to do for your company.

Do you need more leads, or do you simply need to do a better job with the leads you’re currently handling? Do you need more people to be visiting your website from organic searches, or do you only need to do a better job turning sales opportunities into closed business? If you need both (and most companies do), consider software that has marketing and sales functionalities.

But if you only need the sales support, you can probably get by with some point tools like Google Analytics (free), and you can focus your investment on the CRM part of your MarTech and sales tech stack.

Has it provided documented quantitative improvements in close rates, length of the sales cycle or conversion rates at other stages of your sales process?

Another way to measure your investment in sales CRM tools is to look at the actual quantitative measures associated with your software usage. The only reason to buy CRM software is to drive key metrics like close rates, pipeline value and sales cycle length. You have to benchmark your actual performance prior to adding the software and then use the CRM tools to keep track of these KPIs as you use the tools.

Typically, a CRM system also provides insights and reporting to help you get visibility into the actual performance of your sales team. It’s not always about closed business. Sometimes it’s also about mid-month performance and trends. The only way to get this level of insight is with CRM systems that provide dashboards, analytics and reporting.

Are you getting regular KPI reports or dashboards from your Salesforce.com application? If you’re using a different CRM, is that providing you the insights into sales performance that you need to forecast revenue? If not, you should consider some alternatives that make dashboards, reporting, analytics and insights easier to get, visualize and act on.

What percentage of the total feature set is your team using?

One of the biggest challenges associated with Salesforce.com is the overall capabilities of the software. How many of those features is your sales team using? In a lot of cases, we seen companies that have purchased more than they need. Either they’ve purchased advanced subscriptions or they don’t use some features that come with their selected subscription level. In both cases, you’re paying for features you’re not using.

This is relatively easy to assess and even easier to correct. In most cases, you can move down to a lower subscription level and save money. In other cases, you might need to move to another product to get a better fit between the features you need and will use versus those that you may aspire to use but never actually get to start using.

If you find that you’re not getting full value from your Salesforce.com subscription, one potential option is HubSpot’s free CRM tool and HubSpot’s Sales Hub product suite. Over the past few years, we’ve been slowly migrating clients that are underusing (and therefore overpaying for) Salesforce.com onto HubSpot.

One of the nice features with HubSpot is that its pricing model goes up as you use more features and add more seats. So, for a small sales team that only needs basic features, the product can cost significantly less than Salesforce.com yet still provide the features every sales team needs today.

Concerned about switching CRM systems? Don’t be. In the past, moving core business tools like CRM was an issue, but today that’s not the case. We have technical people who make sure your migration plan is sound. They take care of all the issues associated with planning for, moving, testing and training your team on the new CRM software.

In addition, the new CRM products are much more tuned for migrations, and they build in their own set of tools that make migrating easy. You don’t want to switch systems every year, but if you are overpaying, concerns about switching should not be a reason to continue overpaying. CRM and marketing automation are no longer optional tools for businesses of every size.

Just as you likely use financial software such as QuickBooks, you need CRM and marketing automation tools to be competitive. The key then becomes selecting the right software at the right price point to match your company’s requirements and budget.

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