Business users who subscribe to Salesforce get a powerful CRM with the latest cutting-edge solutions. Salesforce is easy to manage, flexible, adaptable, and easily customizable. The AppExchange offers ready-made solutions to most business needs. Salesforce clouds help businesses improve sales pipeline visibility. Einstein infuses the power of Artificial Intelligence. It makes email marketing much more effective than before.
Many businesses do not benefit from Salesforce because of faulty implementation, which in turn can lead to poor Salesforce user adoption rates.
Here are 10 ways to improve Salesforce user adoption rates. Adhering to these steps maximize the ROI for your Salesforce investment.
1. Have a Salesforce implementation strategy
Without an effective strategy on how to use Salesforce, any benefit derived from the new CRM will be incidental – it will deliver inconsistent results and low ROI. When users get poor returns from the software, either they will forsake it or not adopt it in the first place.
If your sales process is be efficient but not digitized, the best Salesforce implementation strategy is to automate the marketing and sales pipeline.
If you suffer from serious gaps in visibility, the core strategy of Salesforce implementation could be pipeline transparency.
If you have lower conversion rates, the focus should to make emails more effective and improve sales.
Planning Salesforce implementation depending on the business situation and covering all the basics will ensure a better user adoption.
2. Fix a wide scope for the CRM platform
Migrate all activities, even indirect activities, to the new system, to improve user adoption. Conduct performance reviews and team meetings using the information in reports and dashboards.
Manage critical tasks such as discount approval processes only within the Salesforce implementation. Likewise, communicate team updates only using Chatter.
Keep the UI neat and simple, making it easy for users to access the information they want.
When key activities are possible only through the CRM, users will have to log into the system. Once logged in, they may as well do all of their activities through it. Using the system frequently improves familiarity, further boosting adoption.
3. Customize intelligently
Salesforce is an extensive CRM, offering functionalities for most eventualities. But all businesses do not need all the features. User dashboards can become cluttered with many unwanted features. User adoption becomes low. Even if users adopt the suite, the clutter might impede their productivity.
Align Salesforce configuration and functionality with the business processes. Dissonance between the CRM process and business objectives is more work for sales reps. They may have to complete extra tasks to reach business objectives.
Decide on required customizations upfront. Salesforce offers easy point and clicks tools to customize objects. Users may also customize through batch processing. Another option is to perform customization sequentially.
Use third-party applications to cover any gaps in functionality, and increase efficiency. For instance, integrate electronic signatures. Use Chatter to collaborate on deals. Seamless integrations ensure that sales reps and managers do not have to go elsewhere to complete their tasks. This will improve Salesforce user adoption rate.
The best Salesforce installation delivers a fully compliant solution with no superfluous functionality. Too much customization makes the installation complex. Such complex implementations with custom features, take up to a year or even more. The longer the implementation process, the greater the disruption. Users may also find it difficult to master complex solutions, again impacting adoption rates.
4. Select the appropriate Salesforce implementation approach
The best approach depends on several factors, such as:
- The existing state of the enterprise sales and marketing
- The nature of the business and business processes
- The products or services sold.
The best way to increase Salesforce user adoption rate is by making it easy for users to do their jobs using the system. When sales reps perceive benefits by using the system compared to workarounds, they accept the new system.
5. Define processes well
Define processes with clarity. Develop a consensus on the process design across the board.
Integrate marketing automation tools to increase the flow of sales-ready leads. Automate key sales and customer service tasks. Use a mix of code and extended features to add the required functionality. Some of the ready-made functionality available in Salesforce, and handy for sales uses include:
- Product Wizards to make it easier to add Products to Opportunities
- Product Schedules to improve forecasting and revenue recognition
- Linking child Accounts in a hierarchy to the Ultimate Parent automatically
- Importing orders or invoices from an ERP or accounting system.
Monitor and measure the changes to ensure efficiency. Make tweaks for any shortcomings.
Automate processes to the extent possible. Salesforce automation improves accuracy. Tasks such as field updates, email notifications, customer and sales service contributions, and more, become instant and error-free. When sales reps discover that such key tasks take place automatically, they readily embrace the software.
6. Get the Salesforce implementation steps right
Getting end-users to adopt the new Salesforce implementation requires proper implementation. The pre-requisite for proper implementation is to get the implementation steps right.
There are two broad approaches:
- Simultaneous Salesforce Cloud Implementation: Here, the implementation team installs the sales, service, and marketing activities simultaneously.
- One Salesforce Cloud Integration: The second option is implementing Salesforce clouds one by one, depending on the business priority. Sort out any issues and ensure user adoption of such module, before moving on to the next module.
With simultaneous implementation, the enterprise gets streamlined processes in one go. They need to go through the learning curve only once. The disruption, though heavy, gets over quickly. But multiple simultaneous implementations risk failure and may also cause data integrity or data loss issues. On the other hand, incremental implementation does not overwhelm the user. They get proper time to learn and adopt the functionality. There is a much lower risk of integration disruption as well. But such an approach necessitates temporary implementation in parallel, to keep internal departments in sync. The setup needs experienced developers.
The incremental approach is the most preferred one when opting for customization.
Regardless of the implementation steps chosen, map the implementation stages to a project timeline. Monitor the project and ensure fidelity to the targets.
Post implementation, test the customized stack extensively. Operate the functionalities in a sandbox before general adoption. After a first round of testing by QA engineers, migrate the testing process to the user acceptance testing (UAT) environment. Make the necessary changes based on the feedback from QA engineers and test-users, before the main release.
Keep looking for updates. Technology is always in a state of flux. Just like any other technology, Salesforce also updates constantly. Salesforce releases regular updates to enable enterprises to adapt and fit the needs of the business.
- Keep track of the latest developments and co-opt new features when relevant
- Make the rank and file familiar with what’s new, regularly. Failure to do so would soon result in the CRM being unable to meet the changing demands and becoming obsolete.
Sustained user adoption depends on constant monitoring of the CRM for effectiveness and making updates as needed.
7. Have a robust data transfer mechanism
A key element of successful Salesforce implementation is transferring data into the newly installed CRM seamlessly. Most enterprises have legacy operational and customer data for import into the new CRM. Ensure the quality and safety of such data through the following means:
- Cleanse the data before migration to ensure that the CRM has high-quality data
- Map corresponding data objects to ensure data integrity
- Set data duplication rules for Salesforce objects to weed off duplicates
- Deploy powerful migration tools. Automate the migration process to the extent possible.
The quality of data that enters the system makes the difference between a robust CRM and a CRM riddled with problems and poor user adoption. As the time-tested rule holds, rubbish in, rubbish out.
A good CRM system with data integrity helps the sales team access up-to-date customer details, list priority customers, and get details of deals, besides other vital information. The sales and marketing teams use the CRM as long as it helps them drive more sales. Data integrity ensures a more complete user adoption.
8. Have clarity on time and budget
Most enterprises operate on a budget. Consider the time taken to implement the needed features. Fix project timeframes and factor the same in the implementation scope.
Calculate the budget for the installation. Factor in direct and indirect costs, and cost escalations. Most projects attract some hidden costs as well. Include the following costs:
- Training cost to familiarize end-users with the new system
- Cost of productivity loss as users go through the learning curve
- After-launch support costs
- Cost for upgrading allied infrastructure such as end-user devices, to run the CRM.
Get the C-suite budgetary approval upfront.
9. Offer robust support to end-users
Salesforce CRM is vast and complex. Even experienced professionals need training and support to get the best out of the CRM.
Track Salesforce user adoption rates. Use insightful metrics such as the number of contacts created, activities created to record meetings, and so on. Intervene proactively to probe underlying reasons for low figures for any of these ratios. Offer support to improve Salesforce user adoption rate.
Conduct user-training sessions. Hire experts for the process. Create short videos that illustrate new functionalities. It is not always possible to deliver face-to-face training, especially when remote work is the norm today. Use screen capture tools to create short self-explanatory videos. Follow up the video sessions with a Q&A knowledge test using a survey tool.
Make available instant technical professional Salesforce help for resolving technical issues. Any trained or certified Salesforce administrator can offer such support.
10. Manage resistance to change
Salesforce implementation, like any new software implementation, entails change. Resistance to change is inevitable. The success of Salesforce implementation depends on how the enterprise manages resistance.
Track adoption rates proactively. Probe underlying causes for low adoption, down to the individual sales rep level.
Divide sales executives into segments based on user adoption metrics. The three obvious classifications are:
- Early adopters or power users who already use the system. Rope in such users as internal resource personnel to get others onboard. Identify internal champions who have credibility across the rank-and-file. Make them the go-to resources
- Willing but unable users. Users know the benefits and are ready to start. But they cannot use the platform due to technical glitches, resource constraints, or some other issues related to technology adoption. Intervene proactively to resolve such issues and get these users onboard
- Unwilling users. These users do not want to use the system for reasons that extend beyond technical limitations. This is the target to focus on when managing resistance to change.
Convince users what is in it for them. User acceptance depends on convincing them how routing their tasks through the CRM benefits them. Drive home the benefits of the CRM in staying organized and having easy access to information. Demonstrate the full visibility into the sales pipeline offered by reports and dashboards. Explain features such as, “Run as logged-in User” that make it easy to view information for the sales reps. Inability to communicate value hinders user acceptance.
Cultivate stakeholder support. Get top-down backing. C-suite is important even before investing in the CRM. At implementation time, the top management has to provide visible support. The sales rank-and-file will hardly adopt a system to which top management and other stakeholders remain indifferent.
Motivate the rank-and-file through interventions such as best adaptor rewards. Reward employees who spend maximum time with the new CRM, to generate new reports, add contacts, or top in any other useful criteria. Offer ownership of the new system to the users.
Salesforce estimates that customers improve their ROI by 53% on an average through proper Salesforce implementation. Enlist Salesforce consultants to overcome implementation bottlenecks and improve user adoption. A good consultant can suggest the best implementation approach for the business and improve your Salesforce user adoption rates.
Abhishek Sivasubramanian works with Suyati as a Development Lead in Salesforce CRM & .NET Application Development. He is an International Speaker at world’s largest conferences like Dreamforce, IEEE and ICWS and has been a mentor for many newbies & professionals in IT Industry.