Don’t Fall off the Salesforce Adoption Cliff

Salesforce Adoption CliffLet me try to paint a picture of what far too many companies face when it comes to Salesforce adoption (or of any sales CRM system). According to CSO Insights, 74% of sales organizations have poor CRM adoption so this is no small issue.

Phase 1: This is going to be incredible!!!

Your management team is pumped – you’ve all agreed to make a huge investment in money and time into your new sales CRM system. The vision is that you’ll be able to track and measure all kinds of sales data in order to run your sales organization more effectively. You’ll know how many calls and meetings people make each day, you’ll have up to the minute visibility into your sales pipeline. Forecasting will be rock solid. Your marketing team will have deep insights into how marketing campaigns are generating leads and creating sales opportunities. Your company is going to be a selling machine!!

Phase 2: You want me to do what?

Let the squawking begin. You roll out the CRM system to the sales team and they hear a clear message from management that they must use it day-to-day. Managers start saying things like, “If it’s not in Salesforce it doesn’t exist!” and “If you don’t put this data in, no commissions for you!” So the salespeople give it a try, but they’re a little confused. Why do I have to fill out all these fields? I put in the notes from my client meeting but why is my manager still asking for sales updates? Why do I have to put all this data in – I just want to sell stuff!

Phase 3: Managers defend

Front line managers are being told to get their sales teams using Salesforce, but they aren’t seeing hands on data they can use.  The managers continue to be under pressure to sell and hit their numbers, which is their primary responsibility. As a result they stand by their salespeople to stay focused on selling. They might not say it out loud, but they’re thinking “If we just keep selling, management will stay off my back.”

Phase 4: Why are we even doing this?

The executive team is starting to get really frustrated. They’re spending all this money on the CRM system under a grand vision of pure sales visibility, but nobody is even using the thing. So people are starting to question the investment, and are getting close to throwing in the towel, and “fall off the CRM adoption cliff.”

Sound familiar?

The unfortunate part of all this is that when CRM adoption is strong, your company will drive better results, have actionable data to make training and marketing decisions, and increase sales. So before you fall off the CRM adoption cliff, here’s a few things you can do to right the ship. For those of you just getting started with Salesforce you can use this as a guide to put your company on the path to success.

  • Get a simple answer to a simple question: Ask your sales managers, “Putting Salesforce aside for a moment, as a sales manager, what are the top 3 most important activities your salespeople should be doing to generate sales?” When starting to use a CRM system like Salesforce, it’s extremely tempting to try and track anything and everything – because you can!  But like most anything, you have to keep things simple to start. This question should not result in several hours of meetings and debates because being exactly right isn’t critical. Just pick three (and only three) to start with – you can always change it or add more later. An example of how we do this at LevelEleven: The three most important activities are (1) Delivering demos to prospective clients; (2) Having live client conversations – talking to people, not just emailing with them; (3) Staying focused on what’s scheduled to close this week. We have many more things we track, but those are our top three.
  • Figure out how to measure those 3 activities: Take those three activities defined above, determine how you can measure them in Salesforce, and then train your salespeople on how to log these activities. Try going through the process of logging these activities yourself to make sure it’s as easy as possible for the salesperson, and that you understand exactly what needs to be done. This way you can train them, and understand if what you are asking is reasonable.
  • Create very simple reports that everyone can see: Using those three activities, create reports and dashboards that everyone can see. Create a main dashboard in Salesforce, and make that the default dashboard on the Salesforce home page for every person on your sales team – including the managers. Everyone should be looking at the same thing. Ideally these reports will showcase how an individual is doing relative to their peers (or how each team is doing compared to each other). This puts some context around the numbers for people so they can see how they compare. Management tip: As mentioned above, one of the measures we have is client conversations. These are tracked as Events in Salesforce. I’ve created a report that gets auto-emailed to me every morning with a list of all of yesterday’s events including the notes from the meetings. It’s one of the first things I do every day and allows me to keep a pulse on what’s happening in the business. Based on what I see, I’ll ask questions or offer help to the team. This brings me great insights, and also shows the team that I value and use the data they put in.
  • Constantly improve: Because it’s so easy to customize fields and data-points in Salesforce, you can always be tweaking and improving. Ask your salespeople on a regular basis how their use of Salesforce is going – what they like, what they don’t like, what would make it more efficient to use, what information would help them manage their day better, etc. Then, take their feedback and take action as quickly as possible – the same day if you can. This shows the team that you’re listening, and how easy it is to adjust things in Salesforce so that it adds more value for everyone who’s using it.
  • Tap into salespeople’s competitive nature:  One of the best ways to make this whole process more interesting and powerful is to bolt on a little competition. Take one or two of the activities defined above, and create a contest around it that ranks the team on a leaderboard with a prize for the top few people. What’s great about competitions like this, is that the prize is often less important than you think. Salespeople are motivated by the competition of it more than anything else, and adding a theme and contest around one of your key sales activities is certain to boost the teams attention. And because the data that ranks the competition is coming out of Salesforce, the team will be even more self motivated to make sure all their activities are entered in and tracked correctly. In turn, adoption will skyrocket.

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