About a month ago, I posed a (controversial) question on LinkedIn:
Through observation of customers, industry people, and other startups alike, I had noticed that you often find two different camps when it comes to people’s attitudes on using Salesforce.
Camp #1: I want my team to live in Salesforce.
Camp #2: I want good data in Salesforce, but I care less about my team spending time there.
Soon, the comment field was fired up… and there were lots of strong opinions.
Because of the response, we decided to dive a little deeper into the debate, and got in touch with a handful of sales leaders to elaborate on the matter.
Let’s take a look at the arguments in favor of each camp.
First up: living in Salesforce.
I Want My Team to Live in Salesforce
Argument #1: If They Live There, They’ll Use It More
The number one reason that fueled sales managers’ desire for their team to live in SFDC was that they’d use it more. And if they used it more, that’d mean better data to inform decision-making.
Argument #2: Focuses and Guides
With the onset of Salesforce lightning, many companies are customizing page layouts based on where a customer or prospect is in their lifecycle. The idea is to make it easy for reps to know exactly what they should be seeing and doing at any stage of the customer journey.
Moreover, there’s also a purported notion that if reps are looking at their records all day, they’d be more likely to give them the attention they need.
Argument #3: It’s Their Job to Use It
A few people responded that using and updating Salesforce is part of the job. When asked, “What’s the most important thing your team could be doing?” Closing business was a common answer… this brought up a few interesting dichotomies of opinion and eye rolls.
Argument #4: Validations and Rules
Many teams implement various gates and validations so their team cannot perform updates without following certain protocols. Given the fact that any product outside of Salesforce using their API has to abide by these rules (by default), we thought this was a pretty hollow argument.
There are, however, certain products that are less directive in terms of what people need to do when there’s a user failure that makes a case for this argument. That seems to be more of a product by product thing though.
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I Don’t Need My Team to Live in Salesforce
Argument #1: It’s Not a User-Friendly Platform
For many companies, Salesforce has become a database more than something that users find helps them. The massive amount of fields, load times, and clicks required to perform certain actions can often pose a challenge in certain Salesforce environments. For a lot of sales teams, this is an instant productivity-kill and the friction prevents them from putting in the information they are supposed to.
"As much as my team tries to make Salesforce as appealing as possible, we don't think it's necessarily the most user-friendly platform. And I don't really think of that as a defect in the product, I just think it does a lot of different things. And user-friendliness gets sacrificed a little bit in that process."
- Allie Ryu, Revenue Operations at Stack Overflow
Argument #2: Load Time Can Be Slow
Salesforce can take up a lot juice whenever it’s running. This not only means slow load times as you navigate around Salesforce, but also lags on other programs running in your browser.
This can result in frustration and productivity drains when it comes to customer facing activity.
"I think the interesting part is that Salesforce is a great tool, but it’s not always the most robust in the sense of being able to give us what we want when we want it. The information we need could be seven clicks away."
- Brad Rosen, VP of Revenue Operations at G2
Argument #3: So Long as Data Is Good, I Don’t Care How It Gets in There
At the end of the day, Salesforce is intended to help us understand and manage our business. So if you have high quality information to report on, who cares how it gets there?
Many teams now use role specific products for customer facing or internal activity—whether it be a sales engagement platform or Slack. Having the ability to update Salesforce from directly within these systems allows reps to make updates within flow or the context that they’re working, improving the quality and speed at which it enters the CRM.
"Our processes always start outside of Salesforce, and then we try to pull as much as we can into the system. It just happens that there are just some things that don’t really work that we end up having to build and maintain outside of the system."
- James Underhill, Sales Strategy and Analytics Manager at MongoDB
Argument #4: My Reps Live Elsewhere
At the end of the day, we want our teams to close deals. To do this, reps are spending time in email, on the phone, in face-to-face meetings, and leveraging internal resources by collaborating in platforms like Slack.
By augmenting the things your team needs to see and do where they are already working, it’s going to be easier for them to get high quality information into the system.
"Everything from our sales teams perspective lives in Salesforce. It's our system of record. It's where all day-to-day task management happens across all of our teams. It's where all of our data and reporting lives. But we know that most sales reps are going to equally spend their time in Gmail and Slack."
- John Leonelli, Revenue Operations Manager at Robin
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You can argue for or against Salesforce as much as you want. What it all comes down to is what works best for your company, your team, and your reps.
I think the most important thing we need to ask ourselves in this debate is: “Is your current strategy giving you the results that you want?” If we want our reps to live in SFDC because they’re more likely to update it, is that actually happening? Has your team been better about things since you’ve given them Salesforce capabilities outside the core platform?
Either way, if its not working, it might be time to change your strategy.
Modern organizations recognize the impact that user experience has on their teams’ productivity and output. That’s why allowing your reps to work in the tools where they are already spending time will result in better outcomes, and more closed deals.