One odd question our SMB customers ask us is “We know Salesforce is the best CRM on the market, but our team still keeps going back to their old spreadsheets. Can you please help us to maximise the value we get from our Salesforce investment?”
On the surface, it sounds strange. If a customer invests in Salesforce, why would their users not all want to use it? Yet the answer, ‘a lack of user adoption’ is perhaps the No.1 reason why some Salesforce implementations fail. Without consistent use, Salesforce data becomes outdated and progressively less useful. In that situation, it’s hard for customers to justify keeping investing in Salesforce.
During 10 years working with Salesforce customers, we have observed four major areas that cause low user adoption. If any of these four situations apply to your business, they need to be addressed to ensure a successful Salesforce implementation and to maximise ROI:
How to increase Salesforce user adoption for SMB
- Lack of support/focus from top management
Businesses should have a key senior stakeholder (a Salesforce Champion) to be responsible for a successful Salesforce delivery even before the implementation starts. People naturally will resist changes, especially changes they disagree with or think are unnecessary. Having a top manager responsible for implementation and with clear explanations on why and how Salesforce will benefit not just the company, but also its staff and customers, management will set clear expectations and make people accountable for their contribution during the different project phases. A good practice is to set a ‘user adoption rate’ as a key item in key stakeholders’ KPIs. Management should insist on measurable performance goals, and a system of incentives for users to adopt Salesforce.
- Lack of training
This is the most common reason for low user adoption, but quite often businesses seem unaware of this very basic truth: People will not use a tool they haven’t been trained to use or are not comfortable using. The same is true of Salesforce. When something doesn’t work the way the new user expects it to, they withdraw to their comfort zone and pick up their old spreadsheets. A few things to look out during training are:
– Make sure training is relevant: Tailor the training to suit the audience. People are more likely to learn if they can see the training is directly relevant to the work they do.
– Test: Make users practise what they have been taught, and test their knowledge by making fun activities or gamified exams.
– Refresher training: Provide a formalised opportunity for users to identify skills/knowledge they feel they lack during their daily work. This makes it easy to deliver top-up or personal training to stop the user being discouraged.
- Lack of end user involvement
Based on our experience, end users need to be involved through the whole life cycle of the Salesforce project and management needs to value end-user contributions. Essentially, if everyone knows the Salesforce implementation process, the major milestones to be met from the very beginning, then end users become involved at the early ‘scoping’ and ‘business case’ stages through say, workshops. By involving users at the planning stages, their input is seen to be valued by management and other departments. The goal is to let them have a say, encourage their contributions and acknowledge their feedback. End users are more willing to work with new systems if they know their individual contributions to overall business processes have been recognised. It stops being ‘the Salesforce implementation’ and becomes personal for each user. It’s also important to reinforce that users must put Salesforce at the heart of every opportunity. Make sure they know the benefits Salesforce will bring them, and the ways in which it improves collaboration among different business units/teams. Salesforce is there to help businesses grow, to encourage all staff (not just the end users) to be better at what they do and to enjoy what they do.
- Lack of implementation strategy
You cannot improve something you cannot measure. The same goes for an implementation strategy. You must be able to measure its value against its investment cost. Without seeing value, both businesses and end users will soon abandon Salesforce and start looking for alternatives. For end users, the initial business strategy should focus on how to make their lives easier, rather than introducing more things for them to learn. Here are a few areas where Salesforce can deliver ‘quick wins’ for users:
– Minimising repetitive tasks.
– Avoiding switching between different apps.
– Improving data quality.
– Reporting on items/areas that previously were ‘not reportable’.
To summarise, the success or failure of a Salesforce implementation quite often is not decided by product or technology, it often depends on the experiences of management teams and stakeholders. It’s important to have a strategy and framework to encourage Salesforce user adoption and enthusiasm. Having the best consulting partner engaged as early as possible helps businesses avoid the risk of low user adoption. Working together, we are best placed to maximise Salesforce’s RoI.