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Best Practices for Communication During Salesforce Implementations

Contributors: Katie Levy, Michele O’Brien, and Rachel Bryars

Wait, did anyone tell us this was coming? 

“I know we just implemented Salesforce, but I have no idea where to go to get help.” 

“Why are we doing this, again?” 

“We’ve been using this tool for a while, but leadership doesn’t seem invested, so I’m not going to bother.” 

If you’ve said or heard any of these statements after a technology implementation, you’re not alone. Change is hard, and even if you’re implementing a robust, flexible, well-designed tool like Salesforce, there are other obstacles to anticipate and avoid that go far beyond the tool itself. 

Barriers to a successful Salesforce implementation can include lack of executive support and sponsorship, lack of support and awareness of change management techniques, a change-resistant culture, lack of effective communication, and more. In this article, we’ll dig deeper into what it takes to effectively communicate before, during, and after a Salesforce implementation. 

But what does effective communication look like? And how can you use it to help ensure the success of your Salesforce implementation? Let’s explore a few best practices our Salesforce implementation experts have learned and put into practice to avoid common obstacles. 

Develop a Communication Plan

It is well-known that implementing a new tool or system can’t be done without some form of communication. But what types of communication will you use, who will send them, and when will they be sent? Whether you’re implementing Salesforce for a small business with ten users or a multinational corporation with thousands of users, a communications plan and calendar will help ensure the right messages get out at the right time, every time. Here are some simple steps and questions you should answer:

  • Determine communication objectives – What do you want to accomplish? Beginning with the end in mind will ensure that strategic messaging supports the right goals. Carving out time to clearly determine communication objectives before launching your campaign is crucial. 
  • Identify target audiences – What stakeholder groups are you communicating with? Do they need to hear different messages from different senders? What’s the best way to reach each of the audiences? Write this down.
  • Identify senders and communication methods – Who should communicate each message to each intended audience? Will all communications come from the same person or people? What methods of communication, such as in-person meetings, video, email, etc. will you use? 
  • Develop a calendar based on your go-live date – For example, if you know your go-live date, need training to take place the week before, and invitations must go out two weeks before training, it can help to have it all documented along with the sender, audience list, and message draft so you don’t miss anything. 
  • Determine measures of success – How will you know if your plan was effective? There are a variety of measurement tools such as pre and post surveys you may need to design before you launch your campaign. Maybe success looks like a high email open rate among key audiences or full views of your videos. Knowing what success looks like will help you decide which metrics to monitor. 

Our team of Salesforce implementation and change management experts can help you develop the best plan for your organization.  

Communicate Early and Often

One of the most common communication errors during a Salesforce implementation is communicating too infrequently. Whether you are part of a 30-person or 3,000-person organization, ensuring employees have multiple opportunities to understand what is coming is key.  

Begin by communicating long before your go-live date that Salesforce is coming. Early communications are great opportunities to highlight why your organization chose Salesforce and how it aligns with organizational goals. Communicate what to expect as the go-live date gets closer, including when training will take place and how employees can get help if they need it.  

Give employees plenty of notice about training and explain what they should do if they are unable to attend. Pepper in communications that build excitement about the change and celebrate all that is to come, including what is in it for teams and individuals, and how they can support the change. 

Senders may feel as though they are repeating themselves by sending multiple messages, but repetition is crucial to ensure key information is received throughout the life of the implementation and beyond.

Feel overwhelmed? Let our team of Salesforce implementation and change management experts help you devise the right communications for your organization. 

Choose Senders Carefully 

One of the most important (and overlooked) considerations is who will send the messages — the chosen sender should depend on who has the most credibility on the communication topic and trust with the specific audience. Credibility and trust are important because often the messages a sender shares and what a receiver understands are not the same. What the receiver “hears” can depend on a variety of factors including situations at home, previous experience with change, what peers say, job performance, and perception of the sender. 

Communications about organizational goals, project goals, impacts of a Salesforce implementation on the entire company, what the risks are of not adopting, and other high-level organizational topics should usually come from the top of your organization.  

However, when it comes to more personalized messages such as, “what’s in it for me,” or, “how does this directly impact me and my team,” employees prefer to receive those from direct supervisors and other trusted team members and change agents. This information should be baked into your communications plan, including communicating to supervisors about what messages they’ll be responsible for sending and when. Taking the time to gain full buy-in from chosen communicators will ensure messages are straightforward, genuine, and inspiring. 

Explain Roles, Responsibilities, and What to Expect 

When it comes to change, not knowing what is expected of you can be stressful. Effective communication builds awareness, aligns with project goals, is transparent, and is clear. As part of your communications plan, ensure there is a place to explain what individual employee and team roles will look like throughout the process. Answer questions such as: 

  • Why is our Salesforce implementation important? 
  • When are employees expected to begin using Salesforce, and in what way? 
  • Will all teams use Salesforce beginning at the same time? 
  • How will use and adoption be measured? 
  • How will Salesforce impact employee day-to-day responsibilities? 
  • What are usage expectations, i.e., logging in at least once per day and ensuring data is up to date? 

Taking the time to communicate expectations can ease the natural anxiety that sometimes comes with technology change. Make sure to remind your team of all training opportunities to skill up and become comfortable (and proficient!) with Salesforce.

Keep Communicating After Go-Live 

Another common communications pitfall is stopping communication after a Salesforce implementation. Depending on the organizational culture, reinforcement of the change may be one of the most critical ways to ensure success. Consider adding post-go live communications to your plan that include celebrations of employees and teams exhibiting specific behaviors, reinforcement of where to go for help and training, and surveys to measure employee thoughts and concerns. 

Need help with your Salesforce Implementation?

Our team of Salesforce implementation experts and certified change management experts can configure the CRM to exceed your organization’s expectations and ensure a successful digital transformation.  

Contact us today at (866) 488-9228 to discuss your Salesforce project with the HigherEchelon team. 

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