Salesforce adoption problems and how to solve them

CRM Expert and IT Architect

Published:

The success of any CRM implementation relies on its unanimous adoption by end users, and Salesforce is no exception. The lack of Salesforce user adoption can manifest itself in different ways and cause serious setbacks on the way to achieving higher productivity, and it may even end in a complete failure of Salesforce deployment. Since the problem will not disappear by itself and requires certain investments into its resolution, we’ve decided to take a closer look at its forms, consequences and solutions.

Salesforce adoption problems

How the lack of Salesforce adoption looks

1. Sales reps’ low login rates

The situation where, some time after the Salesforce rollout, companies become concerned about a low login percentage is a common one. Surely, if the login statistics show a poor login percentage, it means that sales reps do not use Salesforce regularly and the user adoption is not going smoothly for some reason. As a result, the value of a new customer relationship platform remains unclear for sales reps who continue to rely on the existing tools in selling.

2. Sales reps’ reluctance to part with traditional spreadsheets

In some cases, sales reps choose to stick with spreadsheets as they are used to them and don’t see how Salesforce is better. To make matters worse for the Salesforce CRM adoption, sales management may accept such reports turning a blind eye to the situation, which is getting out of control. Imagine: accepting that just one salesperson isn’t using the system and sends activity reports on a spreadsheet leads to disjointed processes and, ultimately, CRM failure.

3. Sales reps’ irregular data update

Not updating the data in Salesforce − be it at the stage of needs analysis or negotiation − is an evidence of poor user adoption, which makes it impossible for a sales manager to track the progress. It is crucial for a sales team to keep current with the changing data about deals as well as the information like a customer’s contact data and purchase history, which is subject to changes, in order to be able to use this data effectively. A failure to do so can result in costly and embarrassing mistakes, for example, in case of inability to reach a customer whose details have changed, or not providing a product demo or quotation to the lead within the agreed time in case of a non-update of the corresponding field.

4. Sales reps’ negligent data entry

Inefficient Salesforce adoption can manifest itself in the form of poor data quality, where sales reps do not enter a part of data or do not enter data accurately. It may provoke data chaos, as neither sales reps nor sales managers will be able to rely on the incomplete or inaccurate information. For example, a sales rep may skip entering the reason for a closed lost opportunity thinking it’s a waste of time and effort since the opportunity is gone anyway. Or, in case this field is mandatory, simply put “Other” as a reason, without thinking much. However, this info is vital for the analysis and visibility into why the opportunity was lost. 

How to increase Salesforce adoption

The nature of disagreement between managers leading Salesforce adoption and a sales team is clear − the former strive to enable salespersons to fulfill their potential by serving customers more effectively and improving performance metrics with the help of a CRM platform, whereas the latter are wary of the initiative that seems to complicate their habitual work at the start. A smooth Salesforce adoption will not happen with the wave of a magic wand − it is only through a series of well-thought-out steps based on best practices that the new system can be embraced throughout the company. 

1. Managerial efforts

It is always the manager’s right attitude and leading by example that prove to eliminate user adoption problems. When holding meetings, sales managers should refer to the data stored in Salesforce and use Salesforce dashboards to demonstrate the value of the platform to make it clear for sales reps that using it is a must. As is known, good adoption is driven from the top down since it is the executives who are mostly responsible for cultivating corporate culture − in this case, for promoting the principle ‘If it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.’

Bridging the gap through communication. It makes the whole difference in improving sales reps’ understanding and boosting their trust if managers communicate to them the concrete reasons why the company has made the decision to implement a CRM system and outline the benefits and effects of this solution. In addition, it can help to overcome the adoption problem if managers are open to feedback from the users, show true interest in the difficulties they have when using the CRM system, and incorporate suggestions where appropriate.

Using Salesforce reports to monitor KPIs. Salesforce reports and dashboards can be used to track the adoption level via monitoring KPIs. Looking at usage reports, for example, on logins, managers motivate salespeople to work with the system. Looking at sales performance reports, managers motivate salespeople to put info into CRM. The metrics for KPIs can be based on the usage, data quality and business performance. They will help to ensure that sales reps create new contacts and opportunities actively and consistently and fill out all fields regularly and accurately.

2. System convenience

The goal of any good CIO or CRM manager is to make sure the system is properly adjusted and supported to be used in line with the way the users work. Another important step in Salesforce adoption is to guarantee the platform facilitates the users’ life and doesn’t make it harder. For example, it can be better not to clutter interfaces with irrelevant information and leave only the options required for the sales team, or to reduce the number of mandatory fields for creating new leads − this will simplify the adoption process and enable the team to work more efficiently.

  • Proper customizations. Among the main benefits Salesforce provides, there is a possibility to customize it beyond its out-of-the-box functionality according to the company's needs. For example, such capabilities as customizing standard types of records or setting page layouts, as well as customizing user interface options for your org contribute to the user convenience, which improves the adoption process.
  • Useful add-ons. Salesforce is a powerful CRM tool in itself; however, using it together with add-ons helps to energize the system and provides more advantages, which affects user adoption favorably. For example, sales intelligence solutions, like Clearbit or InsideView allow automatically enriching customer data and ensuring it is always clean, complete and updated. Another useful add-on for Salesforce is DocuSign. Providing an electronic signature solution, this add-on is appreciated for making the closing process easier and more convenient. It’s one of the most popular tools around since it’s hard to imagine closing a deal without a signature, and DocuSign allows making it faster. There’s a wide range of other add-ons and the choice of the most suitable one depends on the concrete tasks of the company.
  • Performance tuning. If your Salesforce becomes slow, your sales team cannot work efficiently. In this case, the value of a newly adopted CRM platform can be questioned, which will not help the adoption process. It may well be that the system needs tuning to improve its performance and make the system more responsive, in which case it won't go amiss to address the issue to the specialists. Timely and professional tuning will help to identify and eliminate the problem − be it due to using multiple plugins on the same page simultaneously or poorly optimized requests on the page − and enhance the end user convenience and, consequently, adoption.
  • Integration solutions. Smooth Salesforce integration with other systems helps to reduce manual input and avoid the need to check other systems, which adds to the convenient user experience. For example, integrating Salesforce with a contract management system empowers sales to achieve significant efficiency through the entirety of the quote-to-cash process. This allows accelerating the contract management process by giving your sales team visibility into contracts without leaving Salesforce, and helping to manage contract renewals and approvals, for example in case of changing prices or delivery terms.

3. User training

User training is an indispensable constituent of a smooth CRM adoption process. In fact, it’s the best way to show the sales team you’re committed to helping them achieve success with mastering the system.

Keep in mind that Salesforce has an extensive functionality and it will be nearly impossible for trainees to memorize all the capabilities and features the platform provides at one go. So, it makes sense to split training into several frequent and short sessions rather than deliver it as one long lecture. It is equally important to schedule a follow-up training after a week or two as it allows the users who may still feel not fully comfortable with the system to ask questions about the issues they encountered.

4. Gamification

When it comes to learning, gamification is never irrelevant. Therefore, making the adoption process fun and engaging is key to involve users into the process and make them stick to it. It can be a good idea to launch a competition on how actively and effectively employees have used the platform − for example, whether they have regularly entered and updated their data, or how many leads they have converted. Salesforce Chatter can be used to highlight the members of a sales team who have achieved the best results. Rewarding high performers will motivate others and will nudge everyone to move in the same direction.

Wrap-up

Let’s face the truth − the successful Salesforce implementation depends mostly on the unified end user adoption, which is often deterred as some feel skeptical or uncomfortable about adopting the innovation. In this regard, it is equally important to come up with a solid adoption strategy envisaging adequate managerial efforts, tailoring the platform and training end users.

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