Which Salesforce Cloud is Best to Implement First?

November 24, 2015 John Gorup



A new American Thanksgiving tradition is the publication of blogs advising people on what not to talk about at the Thanksgiving dinner table. It’s best to avoid topics like politics, religion, and even in some cases sports teams (especially here in Chicago, where families can often split between Cubs fans and White Sox fans). But of course, every family has someone who likes to stir the pot.

The Appirio family recently had an interesting discussion about implementing Salesforce. Andres Gluecksmann asked the team what advice we give companies that want to implement Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. As Andres put it,  “All things being equal, which should go first? Service or Sales? Assume both groups are integrated with all kinds of other systems.”

The question gets at some very meaty issues companies face when implementing Salesforce. As with any Thanksgiving discussion, there is no right or wrong answer. But the opinions from Appirio’s top consultants fell into 3 categories.


Implementing Service Cloud as a first move into Salesforce has some solid business ideas behind it. According to Forrester, “Seventy-seven percent say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good customer service.” The argument goes that customer happiness should be the main priority for a company, so implement the technology that focuses on customer happiness first.

Aside from the business case, there are some strong adoption reasons for going with Service Cloud first. As one consultant put it, “Service must use it, whereas Sales is supposed to use it. If you have some great success stories in Service Cloud, you can use these to build excitement for Sales Management to really drive adoption.”


Arguments for implementing Sales Cloud first usually involved data. Getting the customer and contact data architecture right is the key to success for any CRM system. And to that end, no one knows this data as well as the sales team. Once the core objects are established, implementing Service Cloud becomes easier.

One of our Solution Architects also pointed out that a lot of companies can get a clearer picture of their Return on Investment (ROI) in CRM by improving sales first. When it comes to building support for a new CRM system — for good or for ill —  improving revenue often resonates more than improving Customer Experience. When the wider organization sees the clear payback faster, this can build momentum for implementing Service Cloud on top of Sales.


One of our partners asked a key question: “Why look at Sales and Service as 2 distinct entities that need to be separated?” In reality, Sales Cloud and Service Cloud are marketing terms. There are not literally different clouds, but prepackaged serving suggestions sitting on the same platform.  

Most companies have major pain points in both sales and service that require both teams to interact. Looking at the Salesforce implementation as Sales or Service can potentially leave large pain points intact. Taking a holistic and iterative approach can help many companies successfully implement Salesforce.

What’s the right answer?

Of course, when it comes to what a company should implement first, the answer is: “It depends.” Choosing to go live first with Sales Cloud, with Service Cloud, or with both can be successful strategies. The key is for companies to understand their pain points, culture, and to build a plan that works for their specific circumstances.


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