Getting the Sales Team To Use (and Love) Salesforce.com

We all know that getting Salesforce.com licences for your B2B sales team is a smart and prudent thing to do. And its cloud-based application makes it extremely simple to acquire and install. But you know what’s not simple? Getting sales people to use it.

Funny – most salespeople we train tell us that they pushed their organization to employ a slick, sophisticated Sales Force Automation (SFA) system, and the number one choice, not surprisingly, is Salesforce.com. Sales people want it because it has the “cool” factor, and it is today’s “it” brand. Sales organizations should want it, because it really is an amazing program. When utilized correctly, it can help sales managers figure out where to prioritize deals or customer issues, see where reps are being successful, or not, build far more effective forecasts than they can with Excel, run on-demand, real time reports, track the team’s short and long-term business goals and KPIs…the list goes on.

So, if Salesforce.com is so easy to get, sales people want it, and sales managers can realize tremendous benefit, then what is it that stands in the way of everyone using it?

Well, here are three biggest reasons that sales people tend to shy away from fully utilizing Salesforce.com, along with three strategies to use to overcome this issue.

The Big Brother Effect

A lot of salespeople worry that Salesforce.com is simply going to be used by management to keep tabs on them. Let’s face it, most sales people don’t vote for more visibility into their performance and activity levels.  We’ve always found this excuse somewhat fascinating. It’s not like Salesforce.com has inherently raised the level of management interest into what sales people do all day long. That’s always been the hallmark of any worthy sales organization. The methods utilized to track activity may have been poorly designed, or overly manual, but the interest level shouldn’t have changed.

The key to resolving this challenge is to show sales people how Salesforce.com can benefit them, and make it easier to sell and win more deals. If sales people see how a tool can benefit them, they will usually overlook (or simply not care) how it is ultimately benefitting the sales management team.

Some of the ways in which organizations can give sales people a real advantage to using Salesforce.com;

  1. Take advantage of Salesforce.com’s awesome customization capabilities to configure the system to map the company’s real sales process. Remove all the clutter that your sales team doesn’t want or need, and make the system super easy to use.
  2. Create reports and dashboards for the sales people displaying the information they need to help manage their deal pipeline, track their performance against target and see their performance versus other members of the team.
  3. Provide easy to understand training to the team, in manageable chunks, so that they can understand how best to utilize the software. Stony Point has a tremendous array of Salesforce.com training options available to end users that are cost effective, offered online and in-class, and are instructed by sales people, not IT people!

The Do As I Say, Not As I Do Effect

One of the greatest barriers to complete Salesforce.com utilization is that often managers and executives expect the sales people to use Salesforce.com, but they won’t take the time to learn it for themselves. It’s the classic “take this medicine, it’s good for you, but I am fine” syndrome. This approach has always seemed to us, extremely foolhardy and short sighted. What possible good would come to an organization that asked their sales team to embrace a tool, that the management was not going to leverage for their own sake? And yet, it happens, with alarming frequency we may add.

The key to resolving this challenge is to make sure that managers and executives understand the benefits to them of living and breathing within Salesforce.com everyday. Besides the fact that it is critical to so if they expect any level of heightened Salesforce.com adoption from the sales users, it is a tremendous opportunity to be more on top of their business and to truly understand the nature of where and when future revenues are expected.

Some of the ways in which to drive adoption from sales managers and executives;

  1. Create dashboards and reports specifically for the management and executive team that provides visibility into activities and deal flow (for sales managers) and forecasting, trending analysis and benchmarking (for executive management).
  2. Ensure that a Salesforce.com training program focuses primarily on the sales management team and shows them not just how to use the system for their own benefit, but how to get sales people utilizing it correctly so that the data input is going to lead to the right outputs. Stony Point has a proven program that focuses on learning and adoption by the sales managers first.
  3. Make the adoption of Salesforce.com by the sales team part of the management KPI, and even bonus programs.

The Salesperson-Technology Paradox

Listen, we get it.  Salesforce.com is not straightforward. For all it’s brilliance, at the end of the day, it is still cloud based technology, that if, not set up properly, will be very confusing to sales people. Sales people want one thing that Salesforce.com (in it’s initial acquisition state) does not provide – simplicity.

When you first initialize Salesforce.com, it comes loaded, with everything turned on. It’s the job of the organization to configure Salesforce so that it effectively maps the company’s true sales process, or to work with an implementation partner, like Stony Point, to assist with this.

Most salespeople want things as simple as possible. That means minimizing the fields in Salesforce and chopping out anything that isn’t going to get used.  You don’t want a situation where a sales person can make a decision about whether to fill in a field or not. Ideally a field exists because it’s the job of a sales person to complete it. Far too often, we speak with companies and ask them about certain fields they’ve created, and yet, they have no idea what’s supposed to go in there.

Unleashing SFDC on the sales team prior to configuring it for the organization’s specific processes is a mistake that is easy to correct. Take the time once you’ve acquired Salesforce to understand it’s capabilities, map your sales process, and then build the system for ease of use by the sales team.

by   Mark Christie