Salesforce is a cloud-based solution for customer relationship management, also called a CRM. It gives all your departments — including marketing, sales and service — a shared view of your customers with one integrated CRM platform.
In the case of nonprofits, this also means managing all the records of the organization and its donors. If you’re reading this, chances are your nonprofit is considering making the move to Salesforce or mulling over its options.
Salesforce’s unique structure and attractive deals for nonprofits have played a huge role in making it popular. Its flexibility and customization options are also what make it stand out from other nonprofit CRM platforms at similar levels.
But, just like any investment in your nonprofit’s operations and growth, implementing Salesforce can be a significant undertaking. That’s why it’s important to consider a Salesforce implementation partner to help migrate your data successfully.
Instead of spending hours upon hours of your valuable time learning a multifaceted system, you can rely on a team of Salesforce-certified professionals (like cloudStack Services) who have completed hundreds of implementations.
Let’s look at some of the most common questions we receive about working with a Salesforce implementation partner. We’ll also share how you can get the most out of the partner relationship.
What does Salesforce implementation mean?
In a nutshell, it means getting your software up and running, and making your new tools a seamless part of your day-to-day business operations. Implementation is a lot more than signing a license agreement and creating user accounts. Moving to a Salesforce platform is an investment in your nonprofit’s future.
Salesforce implementation services require strategy and techniques. When implemented correctly, it will improve the efficiency and productivity of an organization.
What is a Salesforce implementation partner?
An implementation partner is an organization that has been reviewed and approved by Salesforce to implement CRM solutions on behalf of the nonprofit.
Each implementation partner specializes in particular areas, industries or applications. This means that there’s a partner that caters to every need, challenge, business, product and industry along the Salesforce journey.
Why engage an implementation partner for my nonprofit?
Salesforce CRM solutions can cover the entire spectrum of a nonprofit’s operations. These include tracking donations and donor engagement, marketing your message and mission statement, and organizing your programs, services and volunteers.
You can also strengthen each product by add-on applications and platform-to-platform integrations, like QuickBooks, Eventbrite, Gmail, and more.
The capabilities of the Salesforce environment are limitless. The challenge is to select the right product with the configurations and integrations that are exclusive to your nonprofit’s mission, fundraising and operations.
Doing all of this for the first time can feel intimidating.
Why engage an implementation partner? For one, it’s challenging for in-house teams or employees with zero Salesforce experience to weigh all the variables and implement a new and highly-configurable CRM platform themselves. And, hiring a full-time employee to take charge of the implementation process can also be costly.
These are just some of the specific reasons why 90 percent of Salesforce customers rely on partner applications and experts.
When is the right time to engage an implementation partner?
We can’t stress it enough: The earlier, the better.
As with any major investment, do your due diligence and consider the following:
- What needs do you have to meet, what gaps should close, or issues you should address?
- Before the implementation, create a vision of what you want to achieve, which is the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ (which is the most complicated part.)
When you nail down your goals, then it’s time to bring in an implementation partner. A good partner will:
- Not only just facilitate the ‘how’, but they’ll also help sort out the ‘what’.
- Help you clarify your success metrics and advise on the appropriate products based on your needs.
- Layout a logistically-sound timeline for your implementation journey.
- Offer customized training, virtual administration and ongoing support to ensure you have everything pre-and post-migration.
Bringing in a partner late in the game can end in missed opportunities in terms of understanding and project scope. The relationship between you and a partner should be a close and collaborative one. One way to ensure a smooth implementation is to start the journey together right from the beginning.
How do I know which partner is right for me?
A partner’s certifications and experience should come into play. Some partners have generalized Salesforce capabilities. More often than not, they specialize in particular areas or functions of a CRM.
Many nonprofits like to work with a Salesforce partner who shares their values. For example, you may choose to work with a partner who prioritizes diversity and equality, or champions sustainability. Other nonprofits may choose a partner who is familiar with the tax laws of the country where they’re based. For instance, a partner should understand how to set up official tax receipts for cash, gifts-in-kind, and other donations to meet the requirements of the Canada Revenue Agency.
Regardless of whether or not these things are top-of-mind for you, it’s important to search around or ask for referrals. Meet with several partners and get a feel of who they are and how they work. This is a valuable relationship, so don’t settle for anything less than the right fit for you.
The most comprehensive resource for both partners and products is the Salesforce AppExchange. There are thousands of experts and applications at your fingertips. You can browse certifications, specializations and customer reviews.
Making the implementation partnership as seamless as possible
As we mentioned earlier, bringing in a partner as early as possible reduces challenges further down the line.
What’s also important is to be transparent about what you want to solve and how you measure success over time. In situations where there is confusion or dissatistaction, it typically comes from a lack of understanding on either side of the customer or implementation partner. This can result in issues with timelines, capabilities and reaching benchmarks.
As a customer, you have to straightforward and clear – just as you want your partner to be. The implementation process can be highly technical and asking questions more than once is very common. Any successful relationship thrives on open, honest communication from the beginning. An implementation partner is no exception.
cloudStack Services + Salesforce = Big return on investment
As an experienced Salesforce partner, we understand that this is a big investment for you. 95% of our clients are small to medium nonprofits who are budget conscious and want a significant return on their investment as quickly as possible.
Our understanding of nonprofit operations and change management, along with our profound technical knowledge of Salesforce means we focus on user adoption of the platform as soon as the migration is complete.
We’ve been proud partners with Salesforce since 2016. Our partnership allows us to keep close tabs on their offerings which are ever-evolving so we can provide our clients with the most current advice.
Whether it’s training, support, data analytics or virtual administration to broaden your team’s abilities, our services ensure you’re getting the most out of your Salesforce investment, including:
- Salesforce NPSP QuickStart: We handle the entire Salesforce NPSP application setup and the donation platform based on your fee.
- Data migration and management: We’ll migrate the essential data so you can focus on your mission.
- Salesforce Training: We’ll provide a training plan customized to your needs.
- Custom Implementation: We can help you with the platform, apps and customizations, and help you solve any platform-related problems.
- Virtual Administration: If you need a hand, we offer Salesforce Virtual Administrator Services.
If you have more questions and are curious if we’re the right fit for your nonprofit, reach out to our Salesforce experts. We’re happy to help.