How to Increase Salesforce Adoption

What would you do differently if you were deploying SFDC today?

Reviewing the lesson’s learned from a successful (or not) project always yields some insights that can be used for future projects. I was not around during my company’s initial deployment of Salesforce.com, but I have lived with the repercussions of the decisions made by that team. This post outlines my thoughts on what I would do differently, from an end user adoption enablement perspective, if I was part of another large scale(20-30k seat), global deployment of Salesforce.com.

The size and location of your internal SFDC user base definitely factors into any enablement planning, but these three focus areas are applicable to any size org.

    1. Personify your end users
    2. Use multiple communications streams
    3. Functional vs. Strategic training

After the break I will cover these three focus areas in detail.

Personify your end users
In any SFDC deployment, there will be different types of users. I’m not talking about Roles or Profiles, but the different people in your company seeking to extract value from SFDC. Once you have personified the people in your organization, you can then determine which SFDC functionality is most relevant to them.

Let’s take three common sales roles:

  • Amy – Account Executive
  • Sally – Sales Representative
  • Vera – Vice President of Sales

Based on your company’s structure, you can then begin to create different functionality categories for these end users:
Amy: Mobile, Account intelligence, Chatter on Opportunities,
Amy is able to access the latest account information from her mobile device just before she walks into a meeting with her customers, she can quickly get updates from her team via Chatter, and rapidly provide feedback on a customer site visit.

Sally: Opportunities, Leads, Contacts, Chatter, Quota
Sally lives in SFDC. She now has the ability to do her entire day to day job from within the Salesforce platform instead of bouncing between email, spreadsheets, intranets and instant messenger. Her daily workflow is improved dramatically as her team can quickly see any updates she makes real time.

Vera: Dynamic dashboards, Pipeline, Forecasting, Chatter
Vera receives a weekly report emailed to her that contains the overall health of her business. She can ring the sales bell whenever her team closes a deal or step in when a stuck deal needs her help. Vera uses the data created in Salesforce by her team to drive revenue for the company.

The value behind these persona is that you now have a Name (and even a face) and a value proposition that can be used to generate persona unique communications and training. This will resonate more with your end users than generic functional training. More on this in a minute.

Multiple streams of communications
Let’s assume that your end users meet the industry average email read rate[link] of 49%. This means that at least half of your users will not read any form of email communication related to your SFDC deployment. I’m not saying NOT to email them, what I am saying is that you need to create an internal integrated communications plan for your Salesforce.com deployment.

My recommendation would be to create no less than 4 methods for end users to consume SFDC enablement documentation(e.g. training, login, support, etc…). Email of course is the easiest form of 1:many communication, however there are other effective means of communication that will help in your adoption efforts.

Consider setting up an internal wiki or sharepoint site that contains all of the related training documents that can easily be searched, opened and printed. Create short 1-2 minute How-To videos that show a common task and host these in an internal site or better yet, on Chatter. Chatter is a useful resource. Chatter, create How To and a Best Practices group on Chatter where end users can share their own best practices.

Do not discount the value of a “roadshow”. One of the most effective means of communication that I utilize is face to face interactions with Sales Leaders. Using our personas above, I would typically join Vera the VP of Sales at her staff meeting to discuss the value proposition, guide them through the data represented in the dashboards, and give them examples of conversations to have with their team based off of the data in Salesforce.com. This 1:few interaction gave the regional Sales leaders the ability to ask questions specific to their unique situation.

Functional vs. Strategic Training
This section requires a dedicated post to really get into the details. At a high level, there needs to be some differentiation between functional and strategic Salesforce.com training.

Functional training deals with the mechanics of using the Salesforce.com platform. How to login, how to create an opportunity, how to edit a contact, and so on. This is a necessity for any deployment, in any organization. There is a wealth of content created by Salesforce.com that can be leveraged for your training plan. I would recommend that you augment any training plan with a 30-60-90 day refresher course that end users can access anytime.

Strategic training related to Salesforce.com is the next destination in the adoption journey. This is where you begin to drive your business forward using data found in Salesforce.com. The fundamental question to answer here is “What does GREAT look like?” What does a great opportunity look like as it progresses through the sales cycle? What kind of information should be captured on the Account page that is useful to Amy the Account Executive? How should sales team members collaborate on a deal via Chatter? It is these types of scenarios that will require a training plan. This type of training and subsequent behavior is where you begin to derive the value from your Saleforce.com Implementation.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

2 comments

  1. Chris Ude says:

    Great post, Jonathan. End user adoption is one of the most important areas we deal with, so I am always on the prowl for best practices. Everything you’ve said is spot on, and I am particularly glad you gave some space to the need for multiple streams of communications. I knew about the value of this in corporate communication in general, but you bring up some very important factors that make it really crucial for salesforce.com adoption, whether with a new implementation or onboarding new hires.

    Just to add my two cents… as trainers (Stony Point has more authorized salesforce.com trainers than even salesforce.com, itself), we are working to drive end user adoption all the time. Here are our training best practices, which mirror much of what you said but may add to it:

    – Role Based Training (like your “Personify” focus area, training should not be the same for all roles; it should be tailored to each role)

    – Scenario Based Training (like your “Strategic Training,” end users don’t need to know *what* all the buttons do ad much as they need to know *when* to use salesforce.com; instead of describing each screen, we take a real world example and walk through it together)

    – Train as Teams (crucial to have the manager in training with the end users, after getting the manager on board, of course; that way the end users won’t say “this is crap; I’m not doing this” because the manager will say “this is what we are doing now, team”

    – Train on Live System (it’s tempting to train on fake data, but then you have to rely on users to take what they’ve learned and apply it to real data; instead, have them do real work on real data; that way, they have already started using salesforce.com when they finish a day of class! It’s much easier to continue using a new tool than to start using it)

    – Hands on Training (may be obvious, but most people don’t learn by listening to an instructor or watching videos and e-learning; they learn by doing)

    – Reinforce Training over time (2 weeks after training, people typically retain 2-4% of what they learned… unless they’ve been using it; as you mention under “Strategic Training”, one-and-done training doesn’t cut it; we must review and refresh after a little time goes by)

    Thanks again for your post, and I hope we get to meet at DF12! (Maybe at one of the parties; thanks for that post, too!)

  2. […] 11. How to increase Salesforce User Adoption […]