Why Your Team May Not Embrace Salesforce – And Why That’s Perfectly OK

Embracing Salesforce

We recently had our company’s annual strategy conference (in Disney World of all places – the perks of working for an Orlando based firm!). We spent a fair amount of time discussing marketing plans for 2016 and with that, the usual focus on Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging and all of those things one must keep up with in this social media mad world. Then the conversation turned to how to position our solutions to the market place with short, distinctive catch-all words that delivered the essence of what we do. Using the rule of threes, we set about coming up with three words that would leave the audience with the right impression of us.


Adopt – Engage – Embrace Salesforce

As a Salesforce Adoption company, the first word is easy – “Adopt”. For us, this term is very straightforward. We have always maintained that adoption means using the system in a manner for which the system was intended to be used – however basic or complex that is. For instance – if all the company wants is for Sales people to view new leads, call them up to three times and record that activity, then as long as the all the reps do that every day, then they have achieved 100% adoption. Now usually a company wants more than that out of Salesforce, so we need to determine what it is we expect people to do. But still, fairly straightforward, no matter how many “to-do’s” we may layer on.


The next word was “Engage”. As per dictionary.com, engage means “to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons).


Well, OK, we all agreed that this was useful. Perhaps this is even redundant given the word Adopt right in front of it. But it has the benefit of being short, dual-syllabic, and gives the impression of people ‘doing things’ and taking action. So not earth-shattering, but not out of place either.


Then we came to the final word, and this is where the fun begins. The suggestion put forth by one individual was “Embrace”. On its own, a fine word. A word that suggests that the subject is wholeheartedly supportive of the initiative, and uses it without reservation, and in fact, has tremendous enthusiasm for its application.


This word, however, was not met with universal approval, and here’s why. It is extremely unlikely that everyone on the sales team will embrace Salesforce. Sure, a few will (or already have), and the degree to which people actually embrace Salesforce will dwindle from there. Some with use it with regularity to suit their own purposes, some will begrudgingly use it so as to heed to some company policy, and a few will outright reject it, stubbornly refusing to change their ways after years of selling (perhaps successfully) using their own methods (spreadsheets, Outlook, or even a pile of yellow post-its).


Now the degree to which your organization is prepared to tolerate this is entirely a management decision. You can impose strict requirements on people using it for all processes within the system (not recommended) or you can impose minimal requirements for some of the items that are priorities, and not worry about the things that aren’t critical (better). But recognize that getting people to adopt Salesforce, assuming a moderate set of expectations for usage, is doable, and getting them to engage with Salesforce is simply another word for the same thing. But expecting the entire team to embrace Salesforce is a fool’s errand. It’s just isn’t going to happen.


So Is Not Embracing Salesforce OK?

To some degree, yes. We can’t make people love a system of organization (at its core, what Salesforce is). Some people will prefer their own system, and others just prefer not to be organized. Hence, we need to recognize that no matter how well we design a system, and how many productivity tools we give to our people, there are some that aren’t going to appreciate it.


So recognizing that everyone embracing Salesforce is an insurmountable goal, how can we make this work for us? Well, what we must do is determine what level of reporting we need to accumulate at a management level in order to understand how our business is progressing.


For instance, do we need to understand everyone’s daily activities? If yes, then determining which activities are critical for recording and which aren’t is the next step. For instance, a mandate that states any proposals of a certain size need to be recorded is a logical one. But a keep in touch, or thank you for the meeting, may or may not be deemed important enough to track. (For the record, we believe that they are). So insisting that reps record high value proposals, despite their displeasure for it is a non-negotiable item. For this you’ll need to implement some steps to ensure that the reps have the fairest possible chance to abide.


In this case, we would strongly encourage importing a Salesforce/Outlook connector tool. We love Cirrus Insight for both Outlook and Gmail, but if you want a free version, Salesforce IQ works well (particularly on the mobile platform), although the lack of a calendar synching tool is a bit of a limitation. Then you’re going to need to train the team on how Activities in Salesforce (Tasks and Events) work, and how we relate them amongst the various sales objects. This fundamental understanding is critical (and certainly not very intuitive) in order to ensure that your sales people can leave a training event and input daily activities with ease and provide management with a snap shop, daily, weekly or monthly, as to what they’re up to.


But what if you don’t care about daily activity, and only want to see a healthy pipeline? In this case, you need to ensure that your Opportunity Stages are aligned with your true sales process (or processes if they vary by service or product line). Then you need to train the team on how Lead Conversion and Opportunity creation work, along with Opportunity updating. Here too, activity management and related lists play a key role, so this training is just as important.


And once training is over, you’re not done yet. The real goal is to get people using the system on a consistent basis, begrudgingly (i.e. not embracing!) or not.


Salesforce Adoption Should be the Real Goal

We have found that three very important actions should occur after configuration and training, namely;


  • One-on-one knowledge checks with each trainee to allow them to demonstrate their ability to properly execute tasks on the system, and done in a safe environment where they can ask questions in private (away from the group) and receive further instruction where required);
  • The inclusion of Salesforce into routine sales meetings, where the team starts to discuss their activities and their deal flow with the support of the Salesforce data in views and reports supporting their story;
  • Ongoing meetings with management and selected reps to determine which elements of Salesforce are still unclear and require more support, and also which elements the team is ready to implement into Salesforce as the company begins to use the tool more effectively everyday.


So while you will never realize the goal of complete embracing of Salesforce by everyone, you should be able to come very close to your adoption goals, and run a dramatically more effective, data-driven organization. Whether or not members of the team never embrace this, should not hold you back.


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