How to implement Salesforce Events software for successful events and members services

Nov 15, 2023

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Managing events and membership programs efficiently is crucial for businesses and organisations looking to grow their networks and foster strong relationships with their stakeholders. Salesforce, a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, together with its AppExchange partners, offers robust software solutions designed specifically for event management and membership programs.

Membership organisations have unique features. They often also hold many events. Their systems must support both. Today I want to highlight the key features and benefits of this Salesforce’s event and membership software. Whether you are hosting events, managing memberships, or both, implementing powerful tools by Salesforce and its partners will help you streamline your operations, enhance attendee experiences, and drive sustainable growth.

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.

Harness the potential of Salesforce events software

Salesforce events software: Salesforce’s events software offers a comprehensive range of features. From event planning and promotion to attendee management and post-event analysis, Salesforce provides a suite of tools to make your event management a breeze.

Depending on your Salesforce customisation of choice of event-management AppExchange package, key features can include:

  • Customizable event pages,
  • Registration management,
  • Ticketing,
  • Event marketing automation, and
  • Integration with other Salesforce products.

These capabilities empower you to create engaging and impactful events while simplifying the administrative tasks associated with them.

Salesforce membership software

Membership programs play a vital role in building lasting relationships with your constituents. Salesforce’s membership software offers a comprehensive solution to effectively manage and nurture your membership base.

Features may include member profiles, subscription management, automated renewal processes, targeted communications, and reporting tools. With these capabilities, you can optimise member engagement, retention, and overall satisfaction. This can be embracing either a Member portal, or a 3rd party membership management platform that would sit on top of Salesforce. We have worked with both portals, Fonteva and Blackthorns.

Tailored member experiences

Salesforce empowers you to create personalized experiences for your members. Customised dashboards, exclusive content, and member communities provide value and keep your constituents engaged. By leveraging Salesforce’s analytics and reporting features, you gain insights into member behaviour, preferences, and trends, allowing you to refine your membership strategies and deliver enhanced offerings. We have configured membership management with the CRM and marketing cloud. Some of our clients have extended this with sites and experience cloud.

Synergising events and membership

Combining events and membership management in a unified Salesforce ecosystem brings added advantages. Integrating data from both functions allows you to gain a holistic view of your stakeholders, streamline communication efforts, and drive cross-promotion between events and memberships. For example, you can offer discounted event tickets to members or provide exclusive event access to loyal attendees. Salesforce’s robust reporting capabilities enable you to measure the impact of events on membership growth and vice versa, enabling data-driven decision-making.

For clients we have designed bespoke full annual member journeys helping them take advantage of all the services the membership organisation has to offer throughout the year. Through the journey, we would ensure that members would renew their membership well before the year has ended. Planned, personalised and automated member communication brings both continued business revenue and more customer satisfaction.

Salesforce events & membership software – implementation success guide

Like to go with Salesforce events and/or membership software? Then let me share our insights on how to go about implementing it in your organisation so you’ll end up with a successful project.

Salesforce Event & Member Services Management Software for Membership Organisations

CloudAnalysts consultants have done quite a few events project implementations and have building substantial membership platform expertise. So, before you embark on a membership software adoption journey, let our experience and in-depth knowledge of Salesforce-based event and membership platform implementations make you more successful.

Our 6-Step-Success Guide

For a productive, streamlined implementation of your Salesforce events software, and/or membership software, our implementation success guide for a Salesforce-based Membership Management solution has 6 themes:

1. Simplify before you begin

We recommend you review and simplify your membership administration processes wherever possible. We find that many people (particularly those lower in the organisational hierarchy believe that the software must be totally tailored to the way they do things today. But that is a mistake. It is much wiser to look to improve your processes and adjust them cleverly to better match out-of-the-box functionality. This will save cost, lead-time and resources. Plus, in many cases, it will help you adopt association management best practices.

Let me elaborate.

Wealth of Features

The more expensive Salesforce-based membership or events software packages 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 it rather than adding layers of extra code for the system to adopt to your (perhaps outdated) processes?

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 either. Seriously first considering to leverage out-of-the-box features before opting for customisation avoid often more laborious and expensive work. And that is not really not always necessary.

“Upgrading Your Software” means “Updating 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 2024’ -solution with processes that easily befit and leverage the best of your new event and membership management platform.

Having said all 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

As you can see in our article on Salesforce Partner Portals, a membership and event platform can be a sheer candy store. 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 on day 1, 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 stakeholders: 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. to specify what they want from the system; and
b) Get their Member Communication Plan and Email Content Assets ready for the Launch. This is completely understandable: staff at membership organisations tends to be already really busy before a transformative software project comes along. Workloads have to remain manageable in the process. Let us guide and support you to implement your new solution as fast & efficient as possible.

4. Build a strong member communication plan

As business consultants, CloudAnalysts can assist you in a several hands-on workshops to develop a robust communication plan. We’ll guide you into composing member personas with bespoke journeys; and then help you segment your members with bespoke member services and communication needs by persona / segment.

Marketing automation for more-effective membership communications: higher member satisfaction with smoother renewals.

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 and What does Marketing Cloud do .)

If a Member Communications team only has worked with MailChimp or ConstantContact for standalone newsletters, Pardot or Marketing Cloud will feel to them as a ‘Ferrari’ when compared to what they are used to. Such a ‘Ferrari’-quality marketing & member communications toolbox will allow 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 communication tailoring to think through, plan for and set up. As this is something that they never had before, or had before in part, in silos, it requires membership organisations time to create a more advanced, integrated communications plan. Meanwhile, communication departments of membership organisations were already busy and may be too stretched for resources to pull this together.

CloudAnalysts are specialists in creating customer journeys, for membership organisations and others. We have created year-long communication plans to onboard first year as well as ongoing members. In this, we help members onboard with the services, build in contact moments with account managers, access to the knowledge base, early renewal communication, event promotion, and more.

We highly recommend that you work with Salesforce marketing and communication consultants like CloudAnalysts, via a series of workshops, coaching or training sessions, to develop an innovative, but implementable, manageable communication plan.

5. Training is Key

5.1 Membership Software Training

Some membership software companies offer training. If they do, it’s highly recommended your Admins take their workshop. Salesforce has Trailhead, a free training resource, to build staff skills in understanding how Salesforce Communities work. We ourselves took lots of in-person and online training when we started — It sure helped us kickstart. We’re Fonteva – certified; our consultants hold about a dozen Salesforce certifications each.

Classroom training can be paid service, while the sometimes extensive library of online self-study materials is free of charge for new clients. Most online training has tests at each section, so you know whether you ‘got it’. Tests, badges, scores are also indicators to show how far any of your staff members is progressed in their training. In addition, you could envision bespoke training modules in a ‘myTrailhead’ – style setup.

5.2 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Planning for online Events. As above but for Events Team.
  3. 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.

6. Pay for a project manager

Because not paying a PM is way more expensive. There is a Dutch saying “It’s expensive to be too cheap“. (Goedkoop is duurkoop). It applies here.

For all our Salesforce software projects we have worked on: it has paid off to have someone in project management. Someone who keeps everyone focused on the project and in sync with each other. Ideally this is someone who is adequately trained and experienced. However something is better than nothing. Even if just as part-time resources, appoint one or more people in a Taskforce. And appoint an official Project Manager. You will be more successful, faster.

We would be happy to help you provide you with a project manager. Or, help set your company up with sound implementation project management.

We trust that these 6 steps will guide you to success with your Salesforce Events and Membership software implementation. Be among the ‘000s of commercial and nonprofit associations, event management and membership organisations that enjoy the benefits of Salesforce-based event management software.

Sounds all interesting? Why not book a free discovery call with one of our Expert Salesforce Consultants? They can answer your questions, or get a demo to help you on your way.

Interested to learn more?

We would be very happy to help you.