From the family dinner table to a Saville Row store, CRM has been part of Rishi Naik’s life since he was a teenager. And it’s resulted in him leading a major Salesforce transformation at GoCardless. We talked to the Salesforce Delivery Manager about why keeping things simple is important.


What prompted you to join GoCardless? 

I wanted to be able to put my name to something; to create something that made a difference to other people. I also loved the culture and values at GoCardless, which are: Be Humble, Take Pride, Act with Integrity, and Start with Why. There’s a strict recruitment process: if you don’t pass the values fit interview, you don’t get the job. This ensures that everyone is open to new ideas, which is really important as GoCardless is all about doing things differently. Our global network for recurring payments has disrupted the financial services sector and made bank debits more accessible for businesses of all sizes.


How did you approach the CRM revamp at GoCardless?

I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, so that meant limiting customisation.  One of our company values is ‘start with why’, so we applied that when scoping out the new features and processes. In the space of 12 months, we’ve gone from around 70 internal Salesforce users to more than 200 plus another 200 within our partner ecosystem. By keeping the foundations simple, it’s much easier to layer on more complex builds and user interfaces to really get the most out of the platform. We don’t want to just empower our teams with Salesforce but also our partners and customers. In the space of a year, we’ve doubled the number of interactions with prospects with activity growing by more than 95% year-on-year and partner onboarding times reducing from around three weeks to four days, including a technical certification.


When did you first encounter Salesforce?

My dad actually worked at Salesforce, so it’s kind of part of the family. He headed up the professional services team in EMEA for a couple of years. As a teenager, I didn’t really care a lot about cloud computing or CRM but that all changed when I was working as a manager of a Saville Row menswear store. When the company deployed Salesforce, I got really interested in how it could help improve the customer experience and ended up leaving to join a consultancy.


How do you keep the innovation cycle going? 

I have a lot of ideas in the shower! And then I take those ideas to the wider team. It’s important to involve as many people as possible to make sure a new feature or process is actually going to work in practice. Once we know we’ve got a great idea, the AppExchange is our first port of call. There’s no point building something from scratch if it already exists. We’ve deployed a lot of AppExchange solutions at GoCardless to support processes as diverse as merchant onboarding, sales enablement, and employee education. 

We’re also encouraging our sales and operations teams to use Trailhead, Salesforce’s online learning platform, so they can learn new skills and capabilities - then they can come up with some ideas too! I’ve even recommended friends and family check out Trailhead if they want to explore new career options and created a trail mix for people studying to become a Salesforce Admin.


So what’s the next big idea at GoCardless? 

Where do I start? There are a lot! Everyone wants to do everything on Salesforce now, which means my team is pretty busy. Now that we’ve built the foundations, we are starting to do some powerful stuff with analytics, which will give our sales leadership richer insights. We are looking at how a customer community could give our merchants an even better experience. We have a lot of GoCardless champions within our own customer base, and we want to bring them together, so they can share their experiences and skills. 

We also want to use Salesforce’s Einstein AI to analyse historical data so we can get more predictive about our business, which is critical during difficult economic times.   


How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact GoCardless?  

I think our culture really helped us get through the COVID-19 pandemic. All the tools and systems used by our teams are hosted in the cloud, so the transition to working from home was pretty easy from a logistical perspective. 

But there’s more to it than that: working from home can be quite isolating especially for people that live alone. So we upped the number of virtual team meetings and introduced online yoga sessions and quizzes to help keep people connected and motivated. Everyone also received a little thank you gift box with some delicious goodies - my popcorn disappeared pretty quickly but I’ve still got the chocolate bar! 

The lockdown was really tough for some of our customers, for example local gyms, as they had to close their businesses for a prolonged period of time. To help customers pause payments, our product development, legal, and finance teams launched a new feature to enable the bulk suspension and reactivation of subscriptions.


What advice would you give to other Trailblazers embarking on a transformation?

Be careful not to get carried away! It can be fun to build cool stuff, but it’s important to ensure there is a business case for it and that any new solutions or processes stay as simple as possible. Fixing a big problem with a small solution can often have the most impact - it also feels pretty good when you achieve it. 

As for using Salesforce, jump in with both feet! The more you develop new skills and discover new features, the more you will get out of it. I love the way you can learn things really quickly and easily - it’s great for personal development.

Find out more about how GoCardless is smashing its sales and bookings records and connecting with more customers here