Whether your company is small or large, I can’t stress the need for an executive sponsor enough. The executive sponsor is typically the person who takes the lead on a specific Salesforce initiative, such as the sales strategy, and is often the key beneficiary of the resulting ROI.

Here are the top reasons to have an executive sponsor:

  • Provide Focus for Specific Salesforce Initiatives
  • Build and Drive Management Consensus
  • Provide User Incentives

Let’s discuss each point in more detail.

Provide Focus for Specific Salesforce Initiatives

Executive sponsors that have successful Salesforce implementations tend to drive the scope for a company’s Salesforce initiative. They typically focus on one specific area of a Salesforce initiative, such as improving leads, sales or support processes. With a specific scope or focus set, they’ll drive to implement this one area of the overall Salesforce strategy. They know that using a ”Big Bang” approach to implementing a complete Salesforce strategy for the company is a losing battle.

Why don’t “Big Bang” deployments work?  Let’s face it, we all know change is good, especially once agreed upon inefficiencies have been identified. However, large changes to business systems and processes are tough on users for any size company. It takes time for users to adjust to new systems, processes, user interfaces and tasks. Breaking up your overall Salesforce strategy into small projects and implementing them over time allows users to adopt changes in small doses. It also allows the executive sponsor to gather feedback and assess what users like and dislike, what went well with the implementation and what did not, and make changes before proceeding with the next implementation phase of the company’s Salesforce strategy. Can you tell I’m an Agile advocate?

Build and Drive Management Consensus

Many top-level executives simply don’t want to commit to a long-term investment. CRM deployments that take years to implement and where improvement is hard to quantify can kill deployments. However, executive sponsors that use small successful deployments of smaller Salesforce initiatives to show results and build management consensus can keep the momentum going.

You want to set a roadmap that allows an executive’s initial sponsorship to transition over time and be shared with other executives. Remember, if the initiative is to be successful in the long term, it needs to become ingrained in the corporate culture.  Setting a roadmap that seeks out your first initial sponsor is a winning strategy.  Getting his or her hands-on involvement and participation in review sessions, consensus building, priority setting, budget, and resolution of escalated issues is critical for building and sustaining adoption success.

Provide User Incentives

Another advantage to having an executive sponsor is being able to impose a “top down” approach to the deployed Salesforce initiatives. For example, executive sponsors can help provide incentives to use Salesforce, such as monetary rewards or team accolades. They can also use techniques to increase usage by asking managers and users to provide status reports through the reporting tools in Salesforce which help to drive adoption. Leveraging an executive sponsor’s organizational power can have a wide, fast, and successful impact to user adoption for a company.

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