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3 Reasons Salesforce Implementations Fail

If your organization has recently switched from another CRM platform to Salesforce, you likely already know how daunting the process can be; despite the potential, new Salesforce implementations carry significant risks and dangers.

We hear horror stories every day from clients that have suffered through a failed Salesforce implementation, and we know how ugly it can get.

Salesforce can be an incredible asset for your business when implemented correctly. Done right, it can truly be what it promises—a fully customized CRM that fits your specific needs and sales processes. But when that doesn’t happen—when Salesforce becomes more of a headache than an asset—what goes wrong?

Over the years, we’ve discovered that there are three common issues that can cause challenges for Salesforce implementations. With the right strategy and approach, these issues can be avoided outright. To get the best of your Salesforce implementation, be sure your team—and the agency or consultancy you’ve partnered with—focuses on the issues below.

Project Scope

Defining the project’s goals upfront is one of the most important aspects of the project. It is crucial that everyone involved agrees on what is and, more importantly, what does not fall under the scope of the project.

What are the signs that project scoping could cause problems down the road?

  • If you are working with a Salesforce agency, the scope (statement to work) is not very detailed and does not address your business needs. A reputable Salesforce partner will take the time to develop a detailed and customized statement of work. If you have concerns, it is critical that you voice them. CRM implementations can be complex, with many moving parts; your scope should reflect this.
  • Without key stakeholders being present, the scope has been agreed upon/signed off. The Head of Sales, for example, has not been involved with the scoping out of the Sales Cloud requirements. In most cases, he or she will eventually crash the party and have their say (likely when it’s far too late). 


The process of appointing the right people in your business to participate in the project should be started well before it is implemented, though this can honestly happen at any time (but the sooner the better!).

Who should be involved?

  • To take full ownership and responsibility for the project, an Executive Sponsor is needed. A C-Level executive or someone similar can also help motivate users to adopt the system.
  • To oversee the project’s scope, timeline, and deliverables, a Manager is needed. Although you don’t need to have formal PM skills, it is helpful to have a primary contact. If you’re working with a reputable Salesforce Partner, you should be assigned a Project Manager (even if you want to manage the project internally as well) to support your efforts and to provide you with the tools needed to reach a successful outcome.
  • To take daily ownership of the system, a Salesforce Administrator will be needed. Some companies will hire this position in-house, but many companies (especially smaller businesses) outsource Administrator work indefinitely.
  • If your Salesforce project involves Marketing Cloud or Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (Pardot), a member of the Marketing team should be involved from the beginning; Marketing teams have specific needs, goals, and concerns—keeping an open line of communication with them will help to ensure their ultimate success and adoption of the tools.

Salesforce CRM Expertise

Unfortunately, the number one reason for most Salesforce implementations’ failure is when the responsibility falls on someone who doesn’t have the necessary skills and experience.

Salesforce loves to boast about the admin-friendly back-end system but the reality is that configuring the system is just one part of the puzzle. While it’s true that most anyone can add a field to Salesforce and create reports if they have spent some time on Trailhead, they are not likely to be qualified to assist with the following:

  • Salesforce best practices learned from implementing CRM systems in dozens of businesses
  • Based on similar experiences, here are some best practices for implementing CRM systems in your industry.
  • A team of highly skilled people with extensive knowledge in all areas of the platform as well as all products.
  • Ability to challenge business processes and requirements.
  • Ability to anticipate those “unknown unknowns”, products that might help, potential problems that could arise based upon prior experience, and perhaps the occasional Salesforce functionality “gotcha”.
  • Ability to conduct Salesforce training for all new users, increasing the rate and value of user adoption.

Most employees working in Salesforce recognize that it’s not altogether difficult to learn Salesforce basics, but implementations and custom development can be another story altogether. Many of our customers have come to us as the result of a challenging or unsuccessful Salesforce implementation.

Although we’ve only touched on a few key areas that can help ensure a successful Salesforce Project, it is impossible to cover them all in one blog post. If you’re dealing with a Salesforce implementation that has gone wrong, reach out and let us know.

Jessica Hope

I consider myself a Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (Pardot) evangelist. I’ve focused almost exclusively on Pardot for the last seven years, and I've had the great honor of working in hundreds of accounts on every imaginable type of project. I spend most of my time working directly with clients to meet their every last Pardot goal, but I also enjoy writing about and/or training on all things Pardot.

Let’s connect to see where I can help. Email me at:

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