16-No SalesforceBy now you may have heard the much over-used acronym CRM (customer relationship management), or in layman’s terms: software for tracking your leads, opportunities and sales activities.

You know, getting your sales team organized.

When times were great, not many dealers really cared in our industry. If we only knew then what we know now. When times are challenging, those who have a handle on sales management rule the roost.

You may have heard your cabinet manufacturer mention Salesforce recently. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for you.

After all, some cabinet manufacturers are implementing the Oracle fad and that’s certainly not the right tool for a cabinet dealer. It’s actually not the right tool for a cabinet manufacturer, but apparently manufacturers prefer learning that the hard way. I just wish I was the Oracle sales rep on those gigs because I’d be taking all of you to the Carribbean right now (on my new jet of course – hey I like to give back, you know).

Back to the Salesforce Disaster

The long and short of it is that Salesforce just doesn’t do it for a kitchen and bath professional. Sure it’s flexible and sure you can make it do all kinds of stuff, but you better have a full time IT department to figure it all out. That’s because Salesforce is going to require an unbelievable amount of hours for you to learn how to setup and configure to make it sort-a-kinda work for your business. And even then you’ll fall short.

Below are my top 8 reasons why buying Salesforce for your kitchen and bath operation is going to end up being an expensive lesson learned.

  1. It’s not very intuitive. Salesforce chose a tabbed interface, similar to that Excel spreadsheet you love so much. And yes, you can have 36 tabs if you want. The challenge is there’s no real “flow” or intuitive model to get you mind around so you know how it is supposed to work. You’ll have a bunch of tabs, a bunch of things you can do and a bunch of confusion.  That means it’s going to be very confusing for your salespeople to use.
  2. It’s hard to configure. Venturing into the setup screens in Salesforce is like the Halloween corn maze where you won’t just get lost, it will scare the heck out of you in the process. It’s hard to figure out where to even begin. Each setup screen has plenty of options, don’t get me wrong, but there’s just so many of them. It would take an average dealer about 430 years to make it all work. It’s just too much.
  3. Security is mind boggling. Salesforce’s flexibility is its downfall for cabinet dealers. Sure you can secure everything, but only if you like creating separate profiles, roles and a reviewing about 3 million check boxes. Then combine that with record types, page layouts, field accessibility and more — it will be like you just purchased a build-it-yourself grill. Sure it looked easy on the box, but sitting in the middle of a sea of wingnuts and a 1,000 page manual is just plain demoralizing.
  4. Leads are knee-capped. Any sales tool you use should at least support a lead with multiple contacts. But there’s a strange thing in Salesforce where a lead is really only a name. That means if you’re chasing down a builder with multiple contact people to keep track of, you’ll have to have multiple leads for the same company (one for each contact person) with no way to tie them all together. The whole concept of a lead in Salesforce was built for the masses. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well in the cabinet industry. Be prepared for massive de-duping nightmares. And when your lead eventually does convert to an account and/or opportunity, you’ll have one heck of a cleanup effort for you and your staff to keep everything straight.
  5. Its too generic. Out of the box, Salesforce will be missing many of the fields you’ll need to track things for your cabinet sales. That means messing around in configuration screens and creating custom fields and page layouts. With a dazzling array of choices to choose from, you’ll remember the Salesforce salesperson telling you how flexible it was. The part he didn’t tell you was how long it was going to take for you to set everything up and wire it all in so it can even begin working.  Hope you like programming.
  6. Converting leads is complicated. If you don’t know how field types match, or the difference between integers and long integers, after you create all those fancy fields you wanted you’ll have to map them over to your account fields. If you miss just one, any information you gathered on the lead will be lost.  Since leads don’t offer you much, you’ll probably end up converting them all into accounts anyway which translates into extra steps, extra time and more work.  I think we all have enough work to do these days without creating more work for our sales teams.  After all, we’re supposed to save them time.  Salesforce does the exact opposite.
  7. Views are difficult to create. Views are a neat way to see everything, the problem is you have to create them all. Salesforce is like a giant ball of clay when you first buy it. Be prepared for countless hours trying to sculpt something that doesn’t look like it came out of the Night of the Living Dead. If you want to make your ball of clay into something recognizable, be prepared for many hours creating views.  Just be sure to keep a pencil and pad of paper handy for all those custom fields you had to create or you’re never going to find anything.
  8. It’s a techie’s dream. The good news is if you love the minutae, the technical, and the overly complicated – you’re going to love Salesforce! If you prefer the simple, you’re going to want to stab its eyes out with your bare fingers. Your sales staff is going to be confused beyond all recognition because Salesforce assumes you have a deep understanding of software. For example, sure you can build your own views (above) but you better know how filters work, what fields to use and what custom objects to look for depending on how you configured your environment.  That means even if you were successful setting it all up in under a year, you’re going to have to spend even more hours documenting what you did so your sales team can understand how to use it – if that’s even possible, that is.

The Results are in

We’ve already received dozens of reports from industry professionals of their failed Salesforce implementations.

If you’re still determined to try it, just make sure to negotiate for an out in your contract to get your money back. Remember, the kitchen and bath industry is unlike other industries.  Generic software just isn’t going to cut it — unless of course you want to spend lots of money and lots of time customizing it to make it work.

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