Getting ready to implement a Salesforce Events & Membership Software solution? Set your organisation up for success following our 5 implementation tips.
If you manage an association, club or events company, and are looking for management solution, your first step is to decide on the members and event management platform that is best for you. Contact us and we’ll help you decide on a vendor. If you have already decided, read on.
Salesforce Events & Membership Software – Implementation Success Guide
Today, I want to share how to go about implementing any of these packages.
One of our consultants has been doing non-stop events and membership management platform implementations for the last year or so, and has become a true second-to-none membership platform expert. He and I teamed up to create this article. Here, I’d like to share our extensive experience and in-depth – knowledge of both Salesforce, and event/membership platform implementations for the benefits of prospective new clients, who are about to embark on their membership software adoption journey.
I’m happy to share what I believe is a Success Guide for a productive and streamlined implementation of your event and membership software.
Our implementation success Guide for a Salesforce-based Membership Management solution has 5 spokes on its wheel:
1. Simplify Before You Begin
In short, we recommend you review and simplify your membership administration processes where possible. Or adjust them, to better match out-of-the-box functionality. This will save cost, lead-time and resources. Plus, in many cases, it helps you adopt association management best practices.
Let me elaborate.
Wealth of Features
The more expensive platforms typically have the most functionality. Some offer you overall membership management & CRM with a 360 view of each individual member; portals for member communications and self-serve solutions; communities for interest groups; micro-sites as you need them; meetings, events and conference management tools; eBusiness for your merchandising; and, for the financial and management side, there’s revenue accounting, reports and dashboards. All this functionality hangs well together. Why not take advantage of this?
Yes, we understand: The software has to serve you, and not the other way around. However, having been in the game of Salesforce implementation consulting for a long time now, we advise organisations to not reinvent the wheel and first seriously consider leveraging out-of-the-box features before opting for customisation which is often more laborious and expensive. And really not always necessary.
Upgrade your Software, Update your Thinking.
See it this way: Chances are, your existing processes have been grown organically and are likely built around the limitations of the legacy software that you are trying to replace.
It makes sense to review these old processes, and develop a ‘Best Practices 2020’ -solution with processes that easily befit and leverage the best of your new event and membership management platform.
Having said this, some customisation may indeed be required to serve your real business needs. Ensure that this customisation is possible before you purchase.
2. Mind Your Scope Firmly.
During the project, clients invariably learn more about the wealth of opportunities that a new membership and event software package entails. This could potentially lead to scope creep.
Being all-of-a sudden able to easily offer members relevant, branded merchandise from hoodies to conference papers; or being able to work with badges unlocking granular entitlements and member segmentation — those can be head-spinners for a modern non-profit marketeer who knows that leveraging digital assets and tools is the way of the future.
So, highly likely, some non-planned opportunities will hop onto your project plan for the Launch, which initially was a ‘simple solution’ to replace inadequate legacy software.
Our advice: allow additions sparingly, and be mindful of unmanageable scope creep that could derail and delay your Launch implementation deadline. (Don’t end up with a bowl of spaghetti strands of ‘great’ half-finished solutions, none of which implementable at the annual membership renewal date when you intended to launch your new members management tools.)
Launch + Rollout Roadmap
Launch with just mission-critical features. 80/20: pick the 20% of features that deliver 80% of the benefits.
For the rest, we recommend you devise a roadmap to embrace additional features over time. This way, you offer members innovations to look forward to, and avoid your departments being overloaded with change.
Your rollout roadmap should be practical & delightful for all teams: IT, Member Communications, Event Management, Brand Marketing departments, etc.
3. Time your Purchase & Launch Dates Carefully
There is an optimal time to buy Salesforce, and there is an optimal time to buy your Events and Membership platform solution. The former has a lot to do with their sales year-end to get the better deal. We observed that membership organisations like their new platform ‘Launch’ (or ‘GoLive’) date to coincide with the date of annual membership renewals or flagship events.
Now, work your way backwards from this date, and double the number of days you initially guess you’ll need to get the right purchase date.
Why double? Our consultants are very skilled at implementing Salesforce and such platforms with you. However, membership organisations often underestimate is the time it will take them to:
a) Develop all their User Stories, i.e. specify what they want from the system; and
b) Get their Member Communication Plan and Email Content Assets ready for the Launch.
Your Member Communication Plan
As business consultants, we can help you in a several hands-on workshops to develop your communication plan; compose member personas with bespoke journeys; and help segment members with bespoke communication needs by segment.
Marketing Automation Extension
Your event and membership software’s communication capabilities can be extended with marketing automation functionality from Pardot or Marketing Cloud. We are expert consultants in this field, and can help you plan and implement a bespoke marketing automation tenet. (More info: 7 reasons why Pardot .)
Think about it, your Member Communications team only has worked with ad hoc MailChimp newsletters. Then, all of a sudden they get a mega tool that allows them to segment members and create bespoke messages based on membership levels, member interests, member badges with special entitlements, event attendance, they have a lot of tailoring opportunities to think through, plan for and set up. That requires time.
Communication departments may also be under-staffed, under-skilled, and/or simply ‘work with the resources they have’.
We highly recommend that you work with consultants (like CloudAnalysts) to – via a series of workshops, coaching or training sessions – develop an implementable communication plan.
4. Train, Train, Train
4.1 Membership Software Training
Some membership software companies offer training. If they do, it’s highly recommended your Admins take their workshop. We ourselves took a week-long course, plus did many online training modules, and it helped us kickstart.
Classroom training can be paid service, while the sometimes extensive library of online self-study materials is free of charge for new clients. If you’re lucky, your online training has tests at each section, so you know whether you ‘got it’. Plus an indicator to show how far any of your staff members is progressed in their training. You could envision to have training modules in a ‘myTrailhead’ – style setup.
4.2 Membership Management Playbooks
Akin to having a communication plan, we believe in the development of new playbooks for users to do their daily job. If you wonder what we mean by ‘playbooks’ in this context, let me answer this from a practical implementation point of view.
Typical pain-points during implementation are:
- Planning for online sales. If a Finance department has not had this functionality before, they will need to get on-board early to understand how your membership software supports this and provide their approval.
- Planning for online Events. As above but for Events Team.
- Salesforce & Membership platform Admin abilities. If Salesforce is new to the organisation – they will need a Salesforce Admin to leverage the full benefits of the membership management system and be able to maintain going forwards.
All these are foreseeable factors that companies can manage.
5. Pay for a Project Manager
We have a saying in Dutch that: it’s expensive to be too cheap (“goedkoop is duurkoop”).
For all our Salesforce projects we have worked on, definitely, it pays to have someone in charge of project management. Someone who keeps everyone focused on the project and in sync with each other. Even if just as part-time resources, do appoint one or more people in a Taskforce, and appoint an official Project Manager. You will be more successful, faster.
Again, we would be happy to help you provide you with a project manager or help set your company up with sound implementation project management.
Be among the ‘000s of commercial and not-for-profit associations, event management and membership organisations that use Salesforce-based event management software. We trust that these 5 steps will guide you to success with your Salesforce Events & Membership software implementation.