Why Your Sales Team Resists Salesforce, and What To Do About It

CEOs, Presidents, VPs of Sales! This is for you.

Have you made the smart move and invested in the world’s top CRM, Salesforce? Have you spent significant amounts of money with consulting firms getting it configured properly? Do you look at your quarterly Salesforce license fees and think, wow….we’re paying a fair bit. Are you also asking yourself – so, given these investments in Salesforce, why aren’t we getting more utilization from it? If Salesforce is so great, why does our, otherwise talented and motivated sales team, resist using it so much.

Well, here’s what we’ve found in years of working with teams using Salesforce. It basically boils down to three very straightforward reasons.

  1. They don’t understand it well enough.
  2. They don’t have the time, or are unwilling to change their process.
  3. They feel as if they’re being micromanaged.

This blog focuses on these three reasons that come down to a sales person’s skill (Reason #1) and their will (Reasons #2 and #3) and the steps we can take to remedy that. So which one is causing your team the most problems. Well, it might be all three. Let’s look at each reason in more detail.

Challenge #1: They don’t understand Salesforce well enough

This is one of the most common problems we see, and as Salesforce Trainers it stands to reason. Fortunately, this is also the easiest issue to correct.

Properly designed and delivered, Salesforce Training is pretty much essential if you’re rolling out Salesforce for the first time, or even if you’re just migrating to Lightning.

Listen – Salesforce is wonderful technology. But it’s not an iPhone. Let me explain. Remember the first time you bought an iPhone – probably around 15-20 years ago now. How long did it take you to learn how to use it? My guess is that in about 5-10 minutes you successfully determined that once you tapped the one and only button on the bottom, you revealed the screen and then you could swipe through the pages to find your apps. Pretty simple, right? What you didn’t master in the first ten minutes – all the little shortcuts and tricks – your kids probably taught you over time.

But Salesforce, sadly (or happily if you happen to be a Salesforce Training company) is not like that. Salesforce is a lot of things, but intuitive (like an iPhone) is certainly not one of them. There’s a bit of a mystery to how it all works, for someone who’s never seen it before. We’ve even discovered that even for those that have used it for years, they still don’t seem to have an inherent understanding of what is actually going on. Leads that convert to Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities, the power of List Views to track items, Related Lists, Notes and Files, Log a Call, Tasks vs Events, the beauty of the Kanban Opportunity Board as a fantastic sales forecasting tool. We could go on and on. But none of these things is really learned in 10 minutes, like your iPhone, let alone all of the things you need to know to properly manage a sales territory and pipeline. Hence – Salesforce Training solutions.

Salesforce Training

 What exactly is the best way to train your team? Well, there’s probably not one right answer, however there are two key factors that are absolute must haves.

First, your training should be customized. Why? Because, your Salesforce system, if configured to match your organization’s business or sales processes, has been customized. Hence, your training guides need to be set up in a way to train to your unique system, not a generic one. Off the shelf training is fine for one or two individuals who are joining an established team where the manager can handle all the rest of the training on the particular nuances of their Salesforce. But for an entire team, either new to Salesforce entirely, or new to Lightning, then a customized training workshop is a must.

Second, your training must, must, must be hands-on. That means, the salespeople in the class, must be exposed to activities that allow them to get their fingers on the keyboard/mouse and the iPhone screen, and walk through realistic scenarios that they would typically encounter everyday. When you’re talking about technology training, it’s imperative that the students get their feet wet (figuratively speaking, of course!) Learners learn best by doing, and there’s frankly nothing more boring than watching someone else walk through a software program clicking buttons and entering data and not doing it yourself.

As far as Onsite vs Online – well, that’s not nearly as important. Listen – onsite is always going to better, there’s just no arguing that. But it’s also a lot more expensive. And in this age of Covid, it’s pretty much out of the question for now. So online it is. At Salesforce Training, we’ve been running online courses for years already, and are pretty expert at it. And there are ways to engage sales learners so that it’s both an enjoyable and educational experience for all.

Challenge #2: They don’t have the time, or are unwilling to change their process

Salesforce Training Program

Now, whereas correcting Challenge #1 – they don’t understand Salesforce – provides the quickest path to resolution, this challenge has the longest, and is generally the hardest one to overcome. We’re talking about changing both the behaviors and the mindsets of your sales team, and I’m sure most of us recognize the challenges in getting people to do things differently. Heck, it’s hard enough to change our own behaviors most of the time. So, it stands to reason that there’s a lot of work involved in getting others to change their behaviors.

Yet it’s an area that absolutely needs our focus and attention. If we can’t get our sales team to actually embrace Salesforce and start using it the way we’ve trained them, then all of our efforts to train them will go for naught. The best training in the world can’t overcome the challenges that exist when people opt not to change. And it’s not just your training dollars that are in jeopardy. Think about the cost of implementation and the cost of Salesforce licenses themselves. There’s a lot riding on getting your sales teams to actually use this thing.

A True Salesforce Change Management Process

One absolutely fundamental truth about people – simply gaining new knowledge (a.k.a. training) without a proper game plan to drive new activities, will result in moving the needle on adoption much less than if we have a plan. This is a fact that cannot be disputed.

At Salesforce Training, we’re keen advocates of the Prosci Change Management methodology.

What is Change Management exactly? Simply defined, it is the application of a structured set of tools and process for leading the people side of change to achieve a desired outcome. And what outcomes are we looking for specifically? Well, a properly designed change management program;

  • Will help to increase the probability of success;
  • Will help to manage your sales team’s resistance to change – and trust – there will be pockets of resistance;
  • Will help capture the people dependent ROI – that return on investment that is based on people doing things differently, and
  • Will help to build an overall change competency within the organization – clearly a good thing, right?

If the rationale behind this isn’t enough to sway you, consider this. You would never enter into a Salesforce implementation project without a well developed and executed Project Management Plan. A Project Management plan will make sure that your technical project has;

  • A well-defined scope
  • A specifically defined objectives that define success
  • Project milestones and a project schedule
  • A work breakdown structure with identified deliverables
  • A meeting schedule
  • A Project Manager and primary sponsor

But ultimately, the Project Plan is designed to manage the technical side of change, that is the work required to make Salesforce better for your specific business.

It doesn’t address getting people to actually use your new fancy tool. And that is where Change Management comes into play.

A proper Change Management plan will address the following;

  • An assessment of the change and its impact on the organization
  • As assessment of the organization’s readiness
  • Anticipated areas of resistance
  • A well-defined sponsorship model and an assessment of the strength of the sponsorship coalition
  • Plans for communications, sponsorship, coaching, training and resistance management plans
  • A feedback process to gather essential information from the sales users to determine how effectively the change is being adopted (or not)

So, as one can see, a number of elements exist for every Change Management project completely aside from what you’ve built in the Project Plan.

Challenge #3: They feel as if they’re being micromanaged

Salesforce Adoption

This is the third of our three key reasons for sales users demonstrating reluctance to use Salesforce, and perhaps the most interesting. This one stems from long standing and embedded routines within the Sales Management process within organizations that have become the ‘accepted way of working’ that, with the introduction of Salesforce, are now being upended.

Think about an organization pre-Salesforce. Even in the most loosely managed sales departments, at some point the management would want to know from the sales team, where things stood in regards to pipeline activity – how many open deals were in the pipeline, what stages are they at, what is the approximate dollar value of these deals, when are they likely to close, and what’s the likelihood that they will close. If those five basic metrics aren’t being captured by your sales organization, well then…shame on you. Salesforce is unlikely to help you much.

Now, when you introduce Salesforce, and all of a sudden that information is much easier to collect and report on. But, naturally, you expect your sales team to enter the data that generates this information, and it’s not unreasonable to want them to submit this data on a fairly regular basis, say daily, unlike their weekly (or worse, longer time frame) submission of their updated spreadsheet. So, naturally, in an organization that simply moves to a request for more frequent updates, there’s bound to be some grumbling. Add to that, that Salesforce allows us to capture so much more, particularly sales activities – which is what any well-tuned sales department really should be measuring – and then sales reps who’ve never had to report on this before aren’t going to like it much.

So, how we do solve? Well, once again, there is an answer for this.

The Sales Manager’s Game Plan for Managing Effort

The solution is in working with your sales team to help them understand that Salesforce is a tool equally for them as it is for the Leadership. This is not something that happens overnight. In order to move towards this reality, a culture shift within the organization is required.

At Salesforce Training we have we help organizations establish a game plan, immediately designed for the Sales Leader, but ultimately to benefit everyone. The heart of this Game Plan rests on five key principles;

  1. Getting people to take personal responsibility is critical and key to growing a high- performance culture
  2. The leadership drives the culture and provides the role model for the organization
  3. You cannot manage other people (and when you attempt to, it is at a cost to you that builds ongoing dependency), but you can train them to manage themselves more effectively and give them the opportunity to do so
  4. “Involvement” drives “engagement” and that this is the only way to get to “commitment”
  5.  Gaining and holding others to commitments is the key competency of successful leadership.

At the essence, it’s not really about getting people to trust Salesforce, so much as it is getting them to trust the process and learning how to take on personal responsibility. One of our favorite sayings is that with an approach like this, your managers can focus on ‘coaching’ instead of ‘coaxing.’

by   Mark Christie