The Leading Causes of Poor Salesforce Adoption

High Salesforce User Adoption. It’s the goal of every sales manager whose team engages with Salesforce. But this means just more than the sales team logging in each day. So, exactly what do we mean by High Adoption? Plainly, and simply, user adoption means that the users are using the system the way in which it was intended. And the way it was intended varies from organization to organization. But, in a very general sense, what most sales leaders take from this, is that their sales people log in every day, both on their desktop and their mobile device, they check their task list, they use List Views to review current Leads, Accounts and Opportunities, and they update their records when new information is available. Seems straightforward enough, right?

So Why Isn’t Adoption Happening?

There are many factors that lead to the sales team not using Salesforce properly. Not surprising. What is surprising is just how many companies fail to take the right steps to prevent poor Salesforce user adoption. It’s as if merely buying Salesforce licenses is enough, and the rest will just fall into place. Wrong!

Mis-Alignment of Business Process to CRM

The first reason is that there is a poor alignment between the CRM system and the organization’s real business processes. If the system isn’t set up to capture the information that the sales reps use to properly sell and move opportunities through the pipeline, then the reps won’t want to waste time entering data that is irrelevant to them. Remember – Salesforce is there to automate a business or a sales process. That process needs to be established first.

Failure to Evolve

The next reason for poor adoption is that the system fails to evolve with the changing business needs. Few, if any, business processes remain static. As markets change, consumer demands wane, competitors react, companies must continue to evolve. As companies adapt to the environment around them, and in an effort to stay leaner and meaner, Salesforce too, must adapt along with it. Fortunately, Salesforce does a great job of advancing and adding new features constantly. But it is up to each business to take advantage of the new functionality, as well as the new apps, and ensure that the sales team is supported by a system that reflects today’s needs, and not yesterday’s.

No Support

Another key reason that we can point to for poor Salesforce adoption is the lack of helpful and knowledgeable support for end users. In larger organizations, a ratio of one Salesforce Admin for every fifty users is recommended. If users can’t get access to someone to answer their questions and troubleshoot issues, they will soon become frustrated. Having someone, either on-staff, or outsourced, who is not only knowledgeable about the system, but can communicate to sales people in a non-technical manner, is critical if we want sales users to embrace it.

Lack of Training

A key and clearly obvious reason for poor adoption, and yet one that is neglected by so many, is a lack of adequate end-user training at the initial roll-out. It never ceases to astound us how many organizations simply unleash Salesforce licenses on their unsuspecting sales users, and just miraculously expect people to pick it up and run with it. In fact, we’ve rarely encountered sales teams that have mastered Salesforce all on their own, or with many of the free resources available, like YouTube video tutorials. No, most sales teams need a formal training plan that shows topics like basic navigation, how the standard objects work and relate to one another, and tasks and events work, how to synch these tasks with a mobile device. More advanced topics like Chatter, custom objects, and third party apps can be rolled out in Phase II, after everyone is comfortable using the system for a few weeks.

Executives Won’t Walk the Walk

Another prominent reason for poor Salesforce adoption is that the system doesn’t meet the needs of management or the executives. Without buy-in from the senior most levels of the organization, the chances of adoption are very low indeed. What is critical, in any implementation and training roll-out, is that the management and executive team are taught from the start, what the expect and what to look for. Executives must not just talk the talk – “everyone must use Salesforce” – but must walk the walk, i.e. log in daily, post comments to Chatter, etc.  In fact, one story we heard was that when Salesforce rolled out Chatter, even people working there were unsure of what it really was and what the benefits of Chatter were. Then, in Week 1, Marc Benioff was the first person to post a Chatter note asking everyone to upload their profile and a photo by the end of the week. You think that got everyone’s attention?  A part of any Salesforce roll out includes meeting with the exec team to determine what it is they need to see from their business on a daily and weekly basis. Then we do the same with mid-line management. Once we understand that, we can then start to design a system that will meet those objectives. The more Salesforce can deliver on these important areas, the more likely that senior management will want to use it, and in turn reinforce that their teams need to be using the system daily. These are certainly not the only factors that stand in the way of poor Salesforce adoption, but they are the ones that we find occur the most often, and ironically enough, are not that difficult to overcome.