How to Increase Salesforce Adoption in Your Company

Published on
June 20, 2017

Adopting Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) system helps employees learn about their customers' preferences, solve problems faster, and find new sales opportunities. But all of that means little if a company experiences low adoption of Salesforce.

It's a common problem. In fact, a Merkle Group Inc. study has found that 63% of CRM initiatives fail.

"There's a very large graveyard of failed CRM projects," writes Kate Leggett of Forrester. CRM Success Requires Focus On People, Not Only Technology reports that almost 40% of respondents pointed to people issues as the cause of CRM failure, which includes slow user adoption, insufficient training, and poor change management.

Causes of Low Salesforce Adoption

Technology can only do so much. People and processes are a major factor in Salesforce success or failure.

Here are six causes of low Salesforce adoption:

  1. Self-implementation: Companies that implement Salesforce without professional guidance tend to see lower adoption. These implementations often result in failure.
  2. Training: Companies without a thorough training program during implementation or post-implementation end up with users who feel overwhelmed by Salesforce. While Salesforce is a powerful and user-friendly tool, users need proper training to use it efficiently.
  3. Not involving users: Most of the time, sales or IT don't include end users during the discovery process. It results in building a system that doesn't meet the users' expectations, which affects adoption. It makes a difference to get user feedback on an ongoing basis from the beginning.
  4. No metrics: How do you know what's working and not working without metrics and feedback?
  5. Employees uneasy with new tech: This has been a major hurdle for many implementations. Some employees resist embracing new business platforms.
  6. Lack of a single project owner: While all departments — executive leadership, sales, marketing, and operations — must participate in the Salesforce implementation, there should be one project owner on the customer's end leading the implementation.

How Do You Measure Salesforce User Adoption?

One sign that Salesforce adoption isn't going well is when employees continue to use spreadsheets and reports from other tools to report sales, pipeline, and activities to management. Salesforce is a significant investment. The executive team wants to see the dashboards in Salesforce and its reports.

Many companies tend to measure user adoption by looking at login frequency. It's a good starting point.

Salesforce's Beyond Login Rates recommends looking at three things to measure adoption:

  1. Usage: This not only looks at login rates, but also created activities, contacts, and opportunities. One metric is the number of Contacts added in Salesforce.
  2. Data quality: To determine data quality, measure the percentage of Opportunity fields completed. The more fields filled in, the higher the win rate.
  3. Business performance: This reveals the company's performance and compliance by looking at sales trends, win ratios, and deal types winning and losing.

Logging in and filling in information tells only half of the story. It doesn't do anything for the business unless users take action. That's where KPIs for business performance can complete the story.

For example, an Opportunity Stage Movement report can reveal interesting information. If you see a chunk of Opportunities moving from Prospecting to Closed Won, that means the users aren't making enough updates in Salesforce.

Tracking stage movements helps management calculate the average time spent in each stage. When data doesn't reflect any Opportunities between Prospecting to Closed Won, calculations are impossible or incomplete.

6 Steps to Increase Salesforce Adoption

Here are six things companies can do to increase Salesforce adoption:

  1. Simplify the implementation process for end users. Salesforce CRM contains deep functionality and features. Most new users do not need advanced features as they start using Salesforce. During the implementation process, it is imperative to configure Salesforce in a user-friendly way to give them what they need. This helps ensure users don't get inundated by all the features and functionality.
  2. Train users: A rock-solid training program along with practice sessions are a must. Conducting training during implementation is critical, but it shouldn't stop there. Salesforce releases new features and evolves every quarter, and companies should plan ongoing training programs, too.
  3. Incorporate company business process: Customize Salesforce development and implementation around your company's business process instead of adapting to the standard Salesforce process.
  4. Create a user-friendly workflow: An effortless workflow makes it easier for users to manage their end-to-end process in Salesforce.
  5. Include Salesforce in employee KPIs: When Salesforce becomes an indicator of an employee's performance, the employee is more likely to use it. But don't add the KPI until they've been properly trained.
  6. Define adoption metrics: Define these metrics based on the company's goals. Successful companies with high adoption rates perform a weekly review of the following adoption metrics:
    • Leads according to the lead source
    • Activities to convert leads to Accounts
    • Number of opportunities by stage
    • Pipeline
    • Opportunities — Closed
    • Opportunities — Lost (with reasons)
    • Forecast

Yes, it costs money to conduct Salesforce training and to work with Salesforce implementation partners. However, the cost of not getting complete user buy-in is high. A Salesforce consultant can help ensure all five steps get put in place.

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