While it’s arguably the best known and most powerful CRM software in the world, Salesforce is only effective when it’s properly maintained and updated.
While the concept of outsourced Salesforce administration has been around pretty much since the CRM was launched, there is an exciting and new option available today called Salesforce Managed Services.
Every company that uses Salesforce has a defacto administrator. Perhaps it’s an (expensive) full-time admin dedicated to Salesforce. Often times companies rely on IT personnel assigned to other duties as well. We’ve even seen CXOs who are responsible for keeping Salesforce running smoothly.
Many small to mid-sized companies smartly use the services of an outsourced professional services team either to act as the primary administrator or support someone on the internal team who is handling that role.
But as you’ll soon see, that model is inefficient and reactive to solving problems that have already happened. It does little to prevent problems from occurring in the first place.
Thankfully, with managed services, there’s a solution to this conundrum. With it comes the ability to leverage the expertise of a fully-staffed Salesforce admin team for often much less cost than it would take to hire in-house resources.
The Old Way: Break-Fix Or On-Demand Model
Before delving into what managed services are and how they work, it’s helpful to understand the options available.
Once, there was only one way that businesses would know there was a problem when a server, desktop, or other critical networking device— when it failed. Then, there was a mad scramble to fix the problems (also known as the break-fix model for dealing with technology issues).
The potential for productivity and revenue loss when a system went down was huge, so this outdated way of doing things was both inefficient and costly. Nevertheless, that was the only way to do things for many years. The advent of managed services offered an alternative to the break-fix model.
The Better Way: Managed Services
The managed service model employs a proactive rather than a reactive philosophy. It focuses on prevention before issues can disrupt employees, interfere with management or derail revenue pipelines. It uses systems that signal problems as soon they develop and identify risks that need to be addressed before those problems even develop in the first place.
And it’s a model that has been effectively used in the world of IT since the 1990s.
At one time, only large Fortune 500 companies could afford to implement managed services (“MS”) which were complex to operate in addition to being cost prohibitive for smaller companies. Systems matured in certain industries around 2005, allowing small and mid-sized companies to take advantage of managed services without breaking the bank.
While the concept of MS has been around for a long time, Salesforce managed services is relatively new. But the same principles apply and it’s a proven model.
The Challenges of a Break-Fix Mentality
The pitfalls associated with a break-fix model can’t be overestimated.
If, for example, an overwhelmed IT department can’t keep up with patches and security updates, the system becomes vulnerable to outages— and potentially to much larger problems in the future.
Companies want their sales team focused on developing customer relationships, not on fixing tech problems, trying to create reports or researching answers to questions about how to use Salesforce features, which is exactly what they’ll be doing under a break-fix model.
Under the break-fix model, users who experience problems have to wait until an admin or the IT department can address and solve them. Productivity is interrupted and they become frustrated, which can decrease software user engagement levels, which in turn can affect data quality, analytics, and reporting.
The Advantages of Using Managed Services
Under this model, systems are always up to date. In the world of IT, users don’t have to concern themselves with staying abreast of the latest upgrades, patches, and security protocols— it’s already handled.
With managed services, questions about new feature rollouts can be answered with a phone call or click of a button so users are more proficient and less frustrated. User engagement goes up along with the quality of data within the system.
Better data means reports and analytics are more accurate, so better management decisions are made, and sales and marketing campaigns can be designed to be more relevant to their intended targets.
Problems and risk factors are identified early on, decreasing the potential for outages and user frustration. Sales teams are more productive and able to focus on core competencies like building the customer relationships that are the backbone of any sales and marketing pipeline.
Who Else is Using Managed Services?
While a new model for Salesforce administration, managed services has been proven to be a superior service model in a variety of industries including IT and marketing.
Information technology represents an industry that’s been revolutionized by the managed services model of doing business.
Rather than having to send out a tech every time a problem arises, IT firms can resolve issues and diagnose risk factors remotely, creating time and cost savings which they can pass on to their clients.
Most IT firms also recognize the opportunity to use 24-hour ‘eyes-on’ services to provide peace of mind to their clients who know systems are being monitored at all times. Problems can be addressed before they become a crisis.
In addition, firms can spend time on services that add value for their clients, rather than only responding when something goes awry.
Clients love that questions, upgrade issues, and headaches don’t require an onsite tech appointment to resolve. Perhaps most importantly, IT firms can spend time preventing fires rather than putting them out.
Managed Marketing Services (MMS) are also hugely popular for small and mid-sized companies who want to create, implement, execute and maintain a successful marketing plan.
Now, growing companies without the budgetary means to hire an entire in-house marketing team can leverage managed services to create campaigns that can compete in the big leagues. These services typically provide clients with access to a team of talented creatives, proven systems, and strategies, marketing experts and tools to create websites, social media campaigns and blogs.
With MMS, company leaders can concentrate on maintaining a quality product and on crafting an effective message rather than on trying to learn the latest social media trends or getting lost in the minutiae of Google analytics.
Salesforce Managed Services: Increase Sales and Reduce Costs
Using Salesforce Managed Services could be the best, most strategic decision your growing company can make.
Salesforce Managed Services offers a comprehensive solution giving companies access to a whole team of experts and experienced Salesforce administrators and consultants to manage their Salesforce function. Typically, this service can be provided for much less money than it would take to hire the same team of experts in-house.
While the functions handled within a Managed Services agreement can vary, you’ll often find tasks related to keeping the database clean and optimized, ensuring high user adoption, spotting poor usage of reports, and other proactive means of keeping Salesforce supporting business growth.
Another advantage of using Salesforce Managed Services is that most providers offer a fixed monthly fee (usually based upon the number of Salesforce seats). Companies know exactly what it’s going to cost each and every month without any surprises, which makes planning significantly easier and more predictable.
Statistically, companies that use Salesforce managed services see an increase in the time their employees spend on developing customer relationships and hitting sales targets. With proper configuration and administration, the sales workflow is simplified and quotes can be delivered in minutes rather than hours or days. Sales cycles are shortened and deals are closed quickly and more frequently by team members who are able to spend more time building customer relationships, not on solving technical problems.
The management team has immediate access to the reporting that helps them understand what’s working and what’s not. Executives can quickly get a handle on the key drivers of business success with the right information at their fingertips.
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