3 Common Reasons for Low Salesforce Adoption (And What to Do About It)
Customer relationship management (CRM) technology has evolved significantly over the last few years, expanding well beyond its beginnings as a way to increase customer relationships and drive sales. Today, organizations use CRM technology to manage the entirety of their external ecosystem—from employees and customers to partners and suppliers.
In fact, Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Kate Leggett described the increasing importance of CRM in a recent blog post, noting: “Customer relationship management (CRM) is at the heart of every business. It’s a significant spend of $500,000 to $5 million a year for most companies. CRM is not about making your front office more productive anymore. It’s a technology that supports customers throughout their end-to-end journeys. It drives customer relationships, their retention, and, ultimately, revenue.”
Salesforce has emerged as the world’s leading CRM solution, helping thousands of organizations around the world invigorate internal teams, deepen customer relationships, drive sales excellence and fuel business growth. And, because of CRM’s expanded role within the business, Salesforce touches just about every department within a company— from sales, marketing and customer service, to e-commerce, analytics and business intelligence (BI) teams.
This means getting the most value out of your Salesforce investment requires more than a “set it and forget it” approach—you must ensure users within each business department are adopting the technology and utilizing it to its fullest extent.
The Low Adoption Challenge
One of the biggest roadblocks to achieving success is low Salesforce adoption by users. But figuring out how to solve the problem isn’t easy because, well, we’re talking about people. While every Salesforce customer has their unique set of challenges, we’ve found that no matter the size of the company or type of business they’re in, there are a few areas that consistently rise to the top. Here’s our take on three common reasons why companies aren’t seeing the level of Salesforce adoption they need to drive growth and performance, and what to do about it.
1. Users Don’t Understand “What’s In It for Them”
Sales reps are often asked to enter a plethora of information as they engage in customer or prospect conversations. At first, they may be diligent. But over time it’s easy to get lackadaisical—especially if there are dozens of fields that seem irrelevant, tedious and, frankly, take too long to fill out. Why does it matter to include every detail of past and current activity, financial data and other usage details? For sales operations leaders and executive leadership, this data is gold for reporting and analysis, helping to forecast sales and uncover key trends in customer behavior, personas and demographics. But if sales reps don’t understand how the data is being used—and, more importantly, are not gaining access to those insights to drive their own sales and opportunities—then what is their incentive to provide the best, most accurate data upfront?
Salesforce data is only as good as the information you put in it—so it’s critical to find a balance between what’s needed to support optimal performance in the field and the detailed analytics and reporting needed at the executive level.
Solving this starts with a technical assessment of how users are actually leveraging Salesforce and what leadership needs, and then addressing how both objectives can be met with the least amount of resistance, required fields and streamlined workflows.
But beyond this, there is an educational component that needs to happen. End users need to know what’s in it for them, and leadership needs to share back their learnings and insights on a regular basis—via training, communications and dashboards that provide meaningful insights. While this may seem self-evident, there is often a gap between what happens at the executive level and end-user level—whether we’re talking about a salesperson, customer service rep or marketing team member. Look at ways you can close that gap. When people understand how Salesforce data can help them do their jobs better, smarter and faster, user adoption rates will naturally increase.
2. Users May Not Be Sharing Their Frustrations With You
In order to get at the root cause of low user adoption, there needs to be some honest and real conversations about the underlying issues. How are user groups interfacing with Salesforce on a daily basis? What are their frustrations and wishes?
Naturally, the best place to start is by talking with end users. But if your manager—or perhaps department head—asked you to share your experiences using Salesforce, would you feel free to unleash a long litany of pent-up complaints? Or would you be more measured, possibly more careful in how you framed things? All too often, this leads to only a partial view of the issues.
What can be done? It generally comes down to getting people comfortable to talk, one-on-one—openly. And the way to do that is to provide a safe environment for sharing feedback in an intelligent and constructive way.
An outside, unbiased Salesforce partner can be of tremendous value here because they have the advantage of being a neutral third party in facilitating those conversations. For example, at Navisite, when we first engage with a customer, we not only provide a technical assessment, but also a comprehensive assessment of the overall state of Salesforce adoption and usage. This process involves conducting interviews with all key stakeholders, from C-level executives and business-line leaders to end-user groups.
Our conversations with end users are anonymous, which gives us the ability to ask the tough questions and get real, unfiltered answers. We then take that information, aggregate it and provide an assessment back to leadership with a clear set of recommendations. This removes any potential negativity, subjectivity and politics from the equation—paving the way to making the changes needed that will drive up user adoption and maximize the company’s overall Salesforce investment.
3. Salesforce Training is “One and Done“
Many companies offer Salesforce training upon initial deployment and then leave end users to their own devices. And, in true “out of sight, out of mind” fashion, it usually doesn’t take too long for end users to forget what features are available to help them excel at their jobs. The problem quickly compounds due to a unique feature of Salesforce that stands out among the large enterprise applications: faster release cycles.
Unlike traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, with much longer upgrade timelines (on the order of years), Salesforce issues three upgrades annually across their product suite. With ERPs, there is more time to plan, handle change management and implement training. With Salesforce, if you don’t establish a regular cadence of training throughout the year, then you are setting yourself up for frustrated users, cumbersome “workarounds” and wasted time because no one understands what new capabilities are coming out or how to take full advantage of the myriad features already available.
The good news: you know there are three upgrades a year. At a minimum, there should be a training session around each release, but there are also a number of communications and best practices that we recommend to customers to augment and support users in between. If you don’t have an internal team of Salesforce experts to help build a regular training program, then consider working with a Salesforce partner who can assess your environment and your groups of users and provide recommendations and best practices tailored for your organization.
Kick-Start High Salesforce User Adoption
Companies invest a lot of time, money and resources into Salesforce implementations, and if it’s not being used to its full potential, there can be major repercussions across the business, including subpar top-line growth and bottom-line performance. This isn’t the outcome you envisioned when starting your Salesforce journey, and it shouldn’t be your final destination. Taking the time to address these above-mentioned areas will go a long way toward increasing user adoption and getting the most out of your Salesforce investment.