Living in the Salesforce.com Matrix, Why It’s Bad, and How it Can Be Better.

matrix

I’m going to step away from my usual writings on security, and talk about the other side of my job this week, the sales side.

I think that I have given Salesforce.com and their app enough leeway over the years. They started out in 1999,  when HTML was a crude tool, and it was difficult to really have the flexibility that their software based competition  had when they started. However web development languages, like HTML5, Java, and APEX had time to develop over the years, and  SFDC now has the ability to make itself better for the end user, the salesperson.  SFDC does a lot less than they should be doing at speeding up the lead generation process and the process of reaching customers faster.  SFDC is not the only guilty participant in the CRM industry, pretty much all of their competition has the same or similar issues. But for the rest of this article, I’m going to single out SFDC.

What SFDC provided to the industry was, and still is, good. It’s an Application as a Service, centralized repository of lead, customer, and opportunity information, that provides insight into the organization. In exchange for this centralization, part of most every salesperson’s day is now devoted to data entry. It’s a compromise that has a lot of benefits, but the salesperson in turn, should be able to use the app in a way that speeds up the ability to sell.  It’s in the area of speedier sales that SFDC has failed the sales person miserably.

One only needs to try the SalesForce 1 Android App to see how this works in practice. One one side, this is an incredibly rich app. It’s so rich that it is unusable for any serious salesperson. Getting a telephone number of a lead or contact takes several clicks, records take more.

One way to judge SFDC’s speed of operation is to compare it to using the same data in excel. When it’s easier to pull a report, transfer the data to excel, use the spreadsheet manually, then either enter by hand or copy and paste data back into SFDC, then it should be pretty obvious that SFDC isn’t meeting the needs of the salespeople who are forced to use it.

For example, let’s lake at a typical, activity sheet from SFDC.

It would make sense that you could add comments and status about a call right on this page, but by default, anything you need to record on the Activities page has to  open another page.  Emails are worse. If a task is listed as an email, clicking on it does not open email like it should, but you just have a reminder that you have to write an email, which needs to be deleted if you use SFDC’s internal email, or now you have two activities logged.

The “Related To” field is another problem. Not only does one need to identify if the activity is associated with an account, opportunity, ticket, case, etc. (my version of SFDC lets me only related to one)(, it doesn’t do this automatically. For example if John Smith works for Acme, if I choose John Smith, SFDC should know that John Smith works for Acme, and pre-propulate the field. SInce this field is pre-populated, SFDC shouldn’t even ask me to do this association. It should always be done.

Another example. Why, in 2016, when more Americans have cell phones than home phones, does SFDC not put a dropdown, or list both the office and mobile numbers listed on the call task page? Only the office number appears. If you need to get the mobile, you have to go back to the contact information.

Everyone of these unneeded clicks slows down my day as a salesperson.  Pulling reports and repopulating data takes time away from my company, or my family, (any many of us are forced to choose the latter).

Seriously, I could do a two hour video on everything that makes SFDC an unnecessary ball and chain on the sales making activities of a salesperson.  I’m not going to do that video, or write that book today. What I’m going to tell you is why we are stuck in the SFDC  “Matrix”.

Red_and_blue_pill

There are two reasons why we’ve stuck with the Blue Pill of conformity with respect to SFDC.

  • We have used it so long, and we no longer realize how bad it is.  We have gotten so good at working  (and working around ) an inefficient product, that we have become numb to it’s major design flaws.
  • We aren’t the ones who pay for, or make a decision to buy SFDC.  In fact, we are probably given very little consideration. There’s a general feeling out there that salespeople naturally oppose tools like this, and therefore any real complaints are perceived as whining.

It’s amazing to me that a whole cottage industry of Sales Development Tools are now on the market to address the gaps in SFDC. Some are standalone, pulling leads completely out of the system, most integrate at some point with SFDC. Any volume sales development shop would go out of business if they used the stock SFDC tools solely, because it would slow them to a crawl.  My point is, these tools should not exist, because they are filling a niche that SFDC should have in the core product.  

SFDC (and the rest of the CRM industry), we realize that we are stuck in the Matrix. It would be nice if you help us too. And a little secret, here. You’ll ultimately be helping our bosses, because we’ll be able to deliver better numbers quicker.

Everybody falls the first time, right, Trin? —The Matrix

Are you happy living the SFDC Matrix? Are there ways to make it better? Am I wrong?  I’d like to hear from you.  Your comments are welcome.

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