Revenue Operations

Salesforce Management for Startups: When and How to Start?

During our recent webinar powered by Sweep, we sat down with Aviv Bergman, Head of Partnerships at Sweep, Mallory Lee, VP of Operations at Nylas and Max Maeder, CEO of FoundHQ to talk about Salesforce, RevOps and startups. 

You can watch the whole show here: 


Or dive into the key takeaways below!


  • Strategic hiring for your growth stage: Learn how to align your Salesforce Admin hiring strategy with your company’s current stage. Go through pros and cons of fractional/consultancy services & full-time roles
  • Strategic CRM management: Which rules to follow
  • Techstack: Explore the impact of tools like Sweep in streamlining Salesforce administration for efficient and effective CRM management

When should startups consider Salesforce? 

Deciding when to adopt Salesforce depends on more than just current needs or the stage of development. It’s critical to evaluate if your org is ready for such a technological shift. 

You need to have the right team in place to design and streamline processes effectively BFORE integrating any new technology, Salesforce included. This “people, processes, technology” trio  emphasizes that technology should complement well-established processes, not replace them. Without solid processes—be it in sales, quoting, or pricing—attempting to implement Salesforce can introduce more challenges than solutions. 

The second piece of it is really making sure that you don’t adopt Salesforce before willing to invest in it the way that you need to. When it comes to Salesforce, perception is reality. If you view it as just another CRM — you’ll see minimal investment go into the platform and then little more than baseline functionality come out of it. It’s a lost opportunity. It leads to lower adoption because it’s not adding enough value to the reps or the end-users, which in turn leads to decreased visibility and insights that RevOps teams can get. In that case, the overall ROI isn’t impressive. 

Companies that view Salesforce as the foundation of their GTM infrastructure can leverage it to get a 360 degree visibility into their customer lifecycle.

There’s no end to the implementation, it needs to be an iterative, incremental process and you have to be prepared as an organization to put the money and resources behind it.

If your business has key priorities like planning, processes, and aligning everything for growth, your RevOps person might not have the bandwidth to also manage Salesforce. Recognizing this gap, many startups opt for external help, either from freelancers or firms. 

Typically, by Series B, hiring a dedicated Salesforce admin becomes viable. 

Daily Salesforce tasks are tactical, centered around solving problems and supporting sales teams. It’s a hefty job. So, if your organization is mature enough to involve RevOps early, it’s wise to free up their time for broader strategic efforts.

3 Ways To Get Salesforce Support

There are three main ways to get Salesforce support, depending on your company’s growth stage. 

  1. Hiring full-time staff — The most cost-effective strategy for Salesforce projects, helping to build internal expertise and shaping a long-term product roadmap.
  2. Partnering with Salesforce consulting firms — Consulting firms are ideal for larger projects, offering a comprehensive team to manage everything from start to finish, especially useful for initial Salesforce implementations or major upgrades like CPQ deployment. However, this is often the priciest option.
  3. Hiring freelancers or independent contractors — Freelancers or independent contractors offer a versatile middle ground. They’re great for short-term capacity boosts, filling gaps left by departing staff, or even tackling strategic projects similar to consulting firms but with a more integrated approach. They excel in specialized tasks that might be beyond your team’s current capabilities, allowing for a consultant to lay out the initial plans for complex projects, which your team can then execute.

Ideally, you’d build an in-house Salesforce team, ranging from one admin for smaller setups to larger teams with dozens of specialists for bigger companies. Your team size should match your needs, aiming for an internal group of admins, developers, architects, and product managers. 

It’s crucial to understand your workload’s consistency before investing; you wouldn’t want to hire an admin who’s busy 15% of the time.

Most companies, like Gong, HighSpot, Outreach, and PandaDoc, tend to hire their first full-time Salesforce admin around Series B. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Clari waited longer, SalesLoft not until Series C, and Seismic even later. The timing for this hire varies, highlighting the nuanced decision-making process. Generally, the Series B stage marks a point where sales and overall growth velocity justify investing in more dedicated Salesforce support.

Moving to Salesforce around Series B means looking for your first admin, but starting small is okay. There are options like Sweep for smaller teams to easily get into Salesforce without being overwhelmed by the thought of needing a large team later. A key point many miss early on is how much more is spent on Salesforce services than on the licenses themselves.

For every dollar on a Salesforce license, how much is spent on services?

It’s more than $6 on every dollar companies are spending on Salesforce. 

Salesforce offers the chance to build a highly customizable and integrated business infrastructure with virtually no limits. The key consideration is the total cost of ownership: for every dollar spent on Salesforce licenses, additional costs are incurred for staffing and professional services to tailor the platform to specific needs. This cost can appear skewed; investing less in Salesforce initially often leads to higher expenses later due to poor setup or short-sighted customizations that require constant fixes or become quickly outdated.

Larger teams of 40-50 people are typically found in multinational corporations using multiple Salesforce products. Establishing a strong foundation, whether through consultants or full-time employees, can significantly reduce the ongoing management and support costs of Salesforce. This contrasts with the higher averages seen in the market, which result from companies treating Salesforce as an afterthought, leading to costly system habits that are hard to correct.

How do you measure the ROI of Salesforce?

When evaluating Salesforce, it’s important to consider the total cost of ownership. This includes all investments made to optimize its use, which can be surprisingly high. 

The real value of technology, like Salesforce, depends on having a strategic process in place. 

If your strategy requires customization beyond what standard tools and best practices can support, it’s worth reassessing to avoid overcomplication. Many standard solutions integrate well with Salesforce, covering a broad range of needs without necessitating excessive customization.

Buy vs. Build 

Bridging the gap between business people and technical teams is crucial to make the right decision. We should start by asking some basic questions: 

  • How would I build this? 
  • How long is it going to take? 
  • What are the technical dependencies? 
  • What’s the potential for the processes to mature beyond what we’re building and changes need to happen. 

Salesforce Over-engineered? 

There are two scenarios when Salesforce can become overengineered:

  1. The initial adoption is too broad — this can easily result in excessive customization of elements that will inevitably be outgrown. 
  2. Teams have an reactive approach to development — companies tend to address immediate needs as they appear, leading to an accumulation of ad hoc solutions pushed into production without a holistic vision. 

Most companies should view Salesforce as they would any product under development, including those intended for external customers. This means having a multi-year product roadmap in place. While this roadmap doesn’t need to be detailed, particularly for projections beyond twelve months, it’s crucial to have a clear sense of Salesforce’s long-term direction.

Best Practices for Salesforce Implementation

Remember to prioritize process over technology. It’s unrealistic to expect Salesforce to fix underlying issues; instead, focus on refining or re-engineering existing processes before migrating to Salesforce. 

These migrations often serve as a driver for organizations to address long-standing process inefficiencies that may have been overlooked. It’s an opportunity to reassess day-to-day operations and optimize processes before integrating new technology.


  • It’s important to start small and iterate. Don’t implement everything at once simply because Salesforce offers extensive capabilities. 
  • Begin by redesigning existing CRM functionality and incorporating new features enabled by Salesforce. Leave room for iterative enhancements as priorities, processes, and other tools evolve over time. 
  • Be aware that implementing Salesforce is a cultural shift within a company. It’s not just another tool for the sales team but a fundamental change in how the organization operates. Adoption and communication are key; otherwise, you risk chasing after users to comply with processes. 
  • Salesforce adoption requires a collective effort—it’s a team sport. Responsibility lies not only on the sales team but also customer success, marketing, and beyond. When everyone collaborates effectively within Salesforce, it becomes a powerful tool for the whole GTM team. 

Watch the whole show here and if you want to learn more about Sweep, a visual workspace for Salesforce, check out their website here