As a Sales Director of a Platinum implementation partner for Salesforce, I have seen a lot of different organisations start with Salesforce with various degrees of success. What are the biggest pitfalls?

  1. Poor user experience
  2. General resistance to change
  3. Lack of executive sponsorship
  4. No internal Salesforce Champion
  5. Poor internal communication
  6. Data & Process quality

Sounds familiar?

Well, we have seen it all. After a 100+ implementations of Salesforce we have seen the most common pitfalls for User Adoption. Let’s address them one by one.

Pitfalls

  1. Poor user experience

Regularly we have come across implementations where the way Salesforce was implemented in the first place, was not to add benefits to a salesperson so he/she could be more productive and successful, but merely focused on providing data for management. What often happens in these cases is that salespeople will minimize the usage of Salesforce due to the administrative burden it provides which will lead to the tool not being able to provide accurate information for management to manage the business on. Often this leads to “shadow” forecasts in tools such as excel.

  1. General resistance to change

Change is a scary animal! People are used to working in certain ways and any change means uncertainty. When users & executives are not involved with the implementation process, we typically see low numbers of adoption.

  1. Lack of executive sponsorship

How would lack of executive sponsorship hinder user adoption? Well, we have seen 2 things happen: First option, executives have not been involved in the implementation process and therefore it is perceived that the implementation can never be valuable. This is often true as we have often seen that KPI’s that management would like to steer the business on, are not measured and visible. Lacking this, Salesforce or any CRM for that matter becomes an administrative tool with limited value add. Secondly if executives are not pushing Salesforce as the single source of the truth, salespeople will also see keeping Salesforce up-to-date as an extra, not a prerequisite.

  1. No internal Salesforce Champion(s)

Internal Champions are important. A Champion is not necessarily a Power User, it can be anyone who sees the upside of the tool and is motivated to put on some extra effort to help the rest of the team. Not having internal champions or ambassadors will slow down the adoption and ongoing development.

  1. Poor internal communication

When a new tool is launched into an organisation, but it is not clear WHY it is done, you cannot expect the users to just come up with the reason themselves. Keeping people involved in the goals, development and roll out of the tool AND the success criteria to which the implementation is measured against, can make a world of difference.

  1. Data quality & Process quality

An old saying is applicable; “crap in = crap out”. This goes for both poor data entry as well as historical data. Too often we have seen that Salesforce is not used to its full potential. Salesforce has a lot of great Einstein/AI capabilities that can provide great insights….

Process quality…One of the reasons why Nextview has started using tools of Design Thinking is that we were getting requests from clients to implement Salesforce and then were asked to rebuild the exact same process that they had in another tool. That does not make sense as the same principle of data quality applies here as well: “crap in = crap out”.

Best Practices

So, to maximize user adoption, what are the best practices?

  1. Poor user experience

One of the prerequisites of a successful implementation is making sure that the tool actually brings value to the users. Salesforce is packed with features that bring value to the user, the speech to text functionality in the Salesforce 1 App is a great example that makes life of a salesperson easier and helps him/her save time on writing endless visit reports. Assigning tasks from these notes to other roles in the organisation will make any sales professional much more productive and successful! At Nextview we use methodologies of Design Thinking (user journeys, personas, customer journeys, stakeholder maps) to optimize the implementation. Our focus is on the user, but in the context of the customer. After all, it is not about how you sell, it is all about how your customer buys!

  1. General resistance to change

As said, change is a scary thing. People like predictability and feeling in control. Introducing a new tool such as Salesforce always brings some level of uncertainty. Luckily there are many ways to to drive change in a fun way with Salesforce. At many customers, Nextview leads the change by introducing future users to Trailheads, the free online and fun way to learn salesforce. We assign specific trails for specific groups of users and off they go!

  1. Executive sponsorship

People in an organization tend to follow their leadership (or to a certain extent) so making sure that you have the buy-in from the executive leadership is a must! Also, make sure that Salesforce becomes an essential tool in their everyday life; create dashboards that provides them with the information they need to steer the business! Also foster the adoption by enforcing the rule: “If it is not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist”….Salesforce as the single source of truth.

  1. Create Salesforce Champion(s)

This point goes hand in hand with number 5 on the list. Every organisation has people that love new tools and embrace change. Reward them, put them in the spotlight and give them a role in driving adoption. This can easily be done with small incentives and usually recognition alone for being a Champion who embraces change and drives progress is enough of a driver for people!

  1. Internal communication

It seems such an easy thing to do, but still we see this going wrong so often in implementations. As Simon Sinek says: “Start with the Why”! Explain the organisation and most of all the users WHY you are moving to Salesforce, explain the benefits and set the right expectations. Part of the communication strategy is also the training. Starting with Trailheads and making sure there is sufficient training before the go-live and repeat! “Repetition is the mother of skill” does not mean that you will have to keep providing training till the end of times, but make sure that what has been taught can (and must) be brought into practice right away as well. The most killing for adoption is having a shadow process running alongside that allows people to deviate from the new standard. For more information on adoption metrics that can be used to communicate the progress, review trails that Salesforce has created.

  1. Data & Process quality

Use the momentum of the implementation for a nice cleanup. Mind you, cleaning up data can be a time consuming and therefore costly exercise! Make sure that you agree with your implementation partner who will pick up the work to prevent expensive consultants to spend their precious hours on this. Having clean data also helps with the data migration and will increase the value you get from Salesforce tremendously! The better the quality of the data, the more Salesforce Einstein can do for you.

The same goes for the process, use the momentum to critically review your processes. Are your processes supporting you or your customers? At Nextview we use Design Thinking to make sure that what we build is always enabling users to support customers better!

So, if you apply all of these Nextview best practices, you should be well on your way to make the most of your implementation. On top of that, don’t just take our word for it, check out other resources too. If you would like pick our brains to help you make the most of your implementation, please feel free to shoot me an email!

Happy trails!

Lars Klumpes