Salesforce adoption: 6 tactics to approach it

Salesforce adoption: 6 tactics to approach it

February 4, 2020

Roman Erohin

Salesforce Expert

Imagine you’ve migrated from your old CRM system to Salesforce, which has cost you an impressive amount of time and money. You’re super excited because you’ve implemented one of the best cloud CRMs you can get today. But you are passing by the sales department and suddenly notice some sales reps hectically minimizing the windows with overloaded Excel spreadsheets and opening a pristine Salesforce dashboard instead.

If you think it’s a joke, apologies, it’s not. Low user adoption rates are one of the major challenges in Salesforce today, easily turning this sophisticated system into a fancy but useless toy. Do you want to avoid this worst-case scenario? Let’s review the main signs of poor adoption and learn how to make your employees befriend Salesforce.

Top signs of poor Salesforce adoption

Our Salesforce consultants, who provide ongoing support for our clients’ Salesforce implementation projects, shared their list of low-adoption warning signs. Here are the most common ones.

Low login rates

This one is pretty straightforward, and it leads to critical consequences. If your employees don’t sign into the system, they simply find it inefficient for their tasks, preferring alternative tools.

Reverting to the old ways

There are a few reasons why your employees stick to the old tools.

First, people naturally resist changes. No matter how inconvenient the old processes may be, your people might have learned how to be productive in that ecosystem. A new tool means stepping out of the comfort zone into the territory where one needs to learn with unclear outcomes.

Second, your Salesforce platform may be even more cumbersome than the previous system, thus forcing your employees to use a more convenient environment.

Sporadic and negligent record keeping

This one is tricky. Even if a single user enters wrong or duplicate data or fails to enter it at all, no one will be able to trust the system. No sales or service rep wants to act based on erroneous or incomplete data when communicating with a customer. As a result, employees often treat the platform with suspicion, lose time on double-checking the data, or switch to other ways to store their records.

Deserted progress bar

When entered into the system, any activity in Salesforce gets the New status. As users are moving their activity along, its statuses keep changing.

For example, leads can be New, Unqualified, Reviewed, Converted, and so on. When you see that the statuses don’t change past New while you know that leads get qualified and deals get closed, it means that your employees just don’t use the system that much and probably don’t see how it can be useful.

Salesforce status bar

Negative user feedback

You can’t avoid negative feedback, especially with new processes in place. However, if multiple users keep complaining about the same things for a considerate amount of time, it isn’t a sign of them being picky but of the system being inconvenient.

Salesforce adoption: best practices

Salesforce user adoption requires a thorough analysis of the platform’s potential and the unanimous participation of all the company’s employees, from the top tier to the front line. With these aspects in mind, we have created a roadmap for successful user adoption.

1. Communicate with users

Outline to your users why the company needs a new system, and how migrating to Salesforce should change and improve your business processes. Show that you want to synchronize your vision of Salesforce implementation with the employees’ understanding of the perks Salesforce should bring them.

For example, ask your Salesforce users about their experience with the platform when it comes to:

  • Challenges they have
  • Features they lack
  • Features they don’t use
  • Features that are irrelevant for their core responsibilities

These insights will show you which processes can be automated or tailored. Luckily, the potential of Salesforce customization allows replicating almost any process your employees are accustomed to. So, take the best from the old system and fill the gaps in the new one accordingly. When employees see that the leadership asked for their opinion not for the sake of appearances but with the intent to follow their recommendations, they will be more enthusiastic to adopt their new CRM.

2. Design a convenient and simple system

More often than not, leaders and power users are so excited about the opportunities Salesforce can bring that they grab and connect tons of advanced features. As a result, users might feel overwhelmed with such an abundance. In order to build a system to make your users’ lives easier, you need to consider the following.

Aim for fewer clicks

Imagine you need to click through a dozen options before reaching your required page. Will you enjoy using the system? The same goes for your users. The more time they need to spend on technicalities, the more frustration they will be accumulating. Make sure the dashboards show the most frequently used tabs and options, with the intuitive search available for additional activities.

Provide a role-based user access

Most probably, your Salesforce platform has multiple users from different departments as well as of different managerial levels. Make sure these users have access only to those tools and options they need for their work. Some users don’t touch the Leads section? Closing deals is not their task? Then make their dashboards noise-free. This way, you will provide both a higher internal security and a more functional working space.

Make it easy to access useful resources

In case your employees use various third-party apps (be it Dropbox, DocuSign, or LinkedIn) to facilitate some processes, consider connecting these apps to Salesforce as add-ons.

Automate tasks

Salesforce allows automating many routine tasks by creating rules, building flows, and leveraging Salesforce Einstein AI. For example, you can:

  • Sync data from email, calls, Jira, etc. with Salesforce
  • Automate backups to external file storage
  • Track orders and inventory
  • Use Service Cloud Voice for calls transcription
  • Use an AI chatbot to qualify leads

This way you will show your employees how automation can take care of different tasks related to their work.

3. Offer user training

This part of the onboarding, by all means, is the most important. Though training seems to be an extremely logical step, it’s oft-neglected or limited to the basics. If it wasn’t the case, the ‘learning curve’ wouldn’t be such a popular challenge of Salesforce adoption. Here are a few training techniques you can incorporate into your strategy.

Provide role-based training

Try tailoring your training curriculum to different roles. The functional part can be more or less the same for everybody, as it presents the basic knowledge (for example, how to navigate the menu or configure a dashboard). The situational training should be personalized, though. Employees need to learn first what they can do in the most likely scenarios in their daily duties. For example, your marketing team needs to learn how to create email campaigns, and your sales reps should know how to add and edit leads.

Users should also understand how Salesforce can be useful for them in particular. For example, they will appreciate saving time using chatbots and Einstein Voice, or avoiding entering data manually after syncing with the calendar and email.

If you aren’t sure where to start with your training personalization, check out Salesforce’s learning center, Trailhead. It has trails for different roles, levels, Salesforce’s products, and functions:

Salesforce trails

Trailhead has even a trail for helping with the adoption:

Salesforce trail for adoption

Employ a peer-mentoring strategy

Your employees will certainly have lots of questions during the training period, what with everyone’s own learning pace and tactics. Let them feel comfortable by getting help from within their own department. Assign experts in each team, for example, those who previously had experience with Salesforce or those who are catching up with the training quicker than others.

You can even encourage the most successful users to prepare shareable cheat sheets or make amateur how-to videos with their own ingenious tips and tricks for using Salesforce.

4. Provide follow-up training

Users can’t become experts just by finishing the intro training. They become experts when they apply their skills in real-life conditions. And this is the period when the success of the adoption is truly at risk.

When the initial enthusiasm fades and employees don’t yet feel the new tool makes their work more efficient, they can revert to alternative ways of doing their job. So, during this sensitive period, users require further support through:

  • Refresher trainings, particularly when you see that the majority of your employees have difficulties with getting used to the system.
  • Self-help resources which employees can reach on their own. For example, you can refer them to Salesforce’s self-help center called Trailblazer Community, where users from all over the world discuss all sorts of issues they face and share tips on overcoming specific challenges.
  • Post-update training that can be required after the system is force-updated twice a year. The thing is, no two Salesforce updates are alike. Some bring just a few light changes, while some can modify the interface and introduce new advanced features. Make sure your employees are all able to catch up.

Also, to make the adoption smoother and your team of Salesforce ambassadors stronger, assign a Salesforce admin. This way, you will take small maintenance issues off your developers’ shoulders and give your users that one person who can answer their questions and solve any technical issue in the system. The admin becomes particularly indispensable when the updates are rolled out, as he or she can help others make sense of the changes and fine-tune the platform to serve the established processes well.

5. Create incentives to use Salesforce

Though you certainly aim for a friendly and collaborative environment when it comes to Salesforce adoption, we recommend to be strict about digressing from Salesforce. Use the following techniques to keep everyone loyal to the new system:

Everybody is in

Make sure everyone who should use Salesforce by the nature of their responsibilities does it. Times when top managers refer to the data stored outside Salesforce or when team leads accept reports created outside Salesforce strongly discourage employees from using this system altogether.

Preach the approach where anything that could be done in Salesforce but wasn’t, will be completely ignored. It can be risky at times, but it’s absolutely necessary to show your cast-iron stance and increase the odds of success.

Everything is in

If your employees got used to certain apps that make their job duties automated and efficient, integrate those apps with Salesforce. This way, your users will have fewer reasons to work outside Salesforce.

No to gamification

Many companies choose to gamify the adoption to instill competitiveness in the teams. We strongly advise against this tactic. Some people can become over-excited with the competition, diverting their attention from the actual work.

At the same time, some people will stay unmoved by all the games and point-earning and will rather prefer to abstain, thus rendering the whole idea meaningless.

Fear of missing out

Making team members feel excluded if they don’t use Salesforce can turn out as one of the most successful motivational techniques. For example, you can announce important news only in Salesforce Chatter or schedule meetings only in the Salesforce calendar.

Clean data

Stay rigid with the clean data policy. Each user should check data for duplicates before they enter it into the system. Plus, users should add new records the moment they have it on their hands. Only in this way will employees be able to trust the data in Salesforce.

It’s also possible to run data quality audits to check how your clean data policy is followed in practice. If the results are poor, check for possible knowledge gaps. It’s not that your employees want to compromise the adoption. There can be some problems with or misunderstanding of the data management requirements.

6. Share positive results

One more great way to breed loyalty within the company’s Salesforce users is to share the fruitful results the system is bringing.

Give shout-outs to the best users at meetings. Share success stories of how certain employees boosted their performance through Salesforce or got a high-profile client. Show how the overall performance of departments has grown since the Salesforce launch. Demonstrate how data quality reports now contain fewer errors and inconsistencies. This way everyone who’s diligent in their Salesforce routine will feel their contribution is recognized.

Ready for the take-off?

Salesforce is not the easiest platform to deal with, while its poor adoption is likely to lead to inconsistent data or even the investments going to waste.

If you feel that your adoption has gone awry, try putting your users in the center of your strategy: communicate your vision, sync with the employees’ requirements, and assist with ongoing training.