10 Ways to Increase Salesforce.com Adoption

This is a guest post by Aaron Ross, co-author of “Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business into a Sales Machine with the $100 Million Best Practices of Salesforce.com”.

You aren’t alone – just about every company struggles with adoption of their Sales Force Automation (“SFA”) system – even the SFA companies like Salesforce.com!



  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do – The executive leadership takes a top-down approach to forcing a system and process on a team, without getting their buy-in first, or ensuring the system will benefit reps too.  Also, leadership is slow to adopt themselves, setting a bad example.
  • Perfectionism – You try to ‘boil the ocean’ and have the system do everything and track everything, and nothing seems to work.  It just gets “junky” from disuse.  Do you have a system in which you can’t even remember the original purpose of many of your fields?
  • Overwhelm – You’re all busy and overwhelmed.  Even if you felt like you had time to learn a new system or update it, you don’t want to because your brain is fried.
  • Impatience – You’re unrealistic with how long it takes to implement, learn & adopt (it’s months, not days), just like with any other major initiative.
  • Boring – Have you been through long (aka endless) training sessions to teach you how to use a SFA system?  Enough said!

Sales Force Automation systems like Salesforce.com are ESSENTIAL tools; but like any tool, it’s only as valuable as the proficiency with which it is used. As easy to use as Salesforce.com is, many companies still struggle to get their people to use it.  And the top leadership must set the example if they expect teams to adopt as well, which brings us to…



  1. Set up a useful CEO/executive team dashboard, PLUS include a slot in the executive meeting to review the dashboard.
    What metrics are currently tracked in weekly executive meetings, sales management meetings, and your one-on-one meetings with salespeople? Translate these out of Excel and into a Salesforce.com dashboard (where possible), using the dashboard as the basis of that part of the meeting. No exceptions. This will create a top-down effect that will greatly help in inspiring adoption!Start simple, with a single first dashboard and only the top 8-10 metrics the team cares about. Examples: Closed sales quarter to date, Open deals slated to close this quarter, Number of leads qualified this month, Pipeline created this month, Results per vertical, etc.
  2. Clean up your SFA clutter to improve usability.
    Stop trying to track EVERYTHING. The easier Salesforce.com is to use, the more people will use it. Get rid of the clutter, mostly by hiding things people don’t use and keeping labels intuitive:

    • Hide unused tabs.
    • Hide or remove unused data fields.
    • Use simple, common sense names for custom fields.
  3. Make compensation dependent on reports in Salesforce
    Don’t pay people if the sales opportunity or customer isn’t in Salesforce, or if it’s not filled out to pre-defined standards. You’ll be amazed at how quickly opportunities move into Salesforce.
  4. Clearly communicate why Salesforce adoption matters.
    Studies have shown that when you clearly communicate why you want something, people are much more likely to cooperate. You won’t get much cooperation from salespeople if they feel like you only want them to use Salesforce because you want to keep tabs on them. But if they know why it’s good business for them to use it, they will.

    • Without data in Salesforce, the management team must either navigate blindly or extract data manually from people, hurting the sales team in either case.
    • Sales reps will waste time as teammates struggle or make mistakes because of inaccurate or incomplete views of accounts and their status.
    • Customers will be more likely to receive poor service, as customer support won’t have a clear picture of what’s going on with the account.
  5. Customize the user interface for your people by role.
    Find out what sales reps need from Salesforce, and how they could benefit – then configure a specific user interface for them that excludes anything irrelevant and distracting.
  6. Start training and creating expectations Day One with new hires.
    Make a first impression and reinforce the idea that everything should and does live in Salesforce. Start them with good habits.
  7. Make it a part of sales culture and peer pressure.
    “If it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.” If management holds a high standard of expectations and doesn’t cheat, reps will improve. Example: On a pipeline call, if a rep hasn’t entered or updated a deal, make the team wait while they update it in real-time (assuming they’re at a com­puter).
  8. Take an online training class.
    Whatever system you have, there are different kinds of classes – take them! While in a perfect world you could use a system just by looking at it and it would be totally intuitive, until Apple gets into this market, you will have to take training.
  9. Have experienced Salesforce users do one-on-one training sessions.
    I’ve found that many users of Salesforce, are just intimidated by a “new system.” Sitting down with them for a couple of half-hour sessions to review a few useful tips is enough to get them over the first hump.
  10. Evaluate a mobile smartphone version
    Would Salesforce on Blackberries/iPhones make it more accessible? Especially for salespeople on the road who have little time to update things on a lap­top, this can be an easy way to give them access to make small, yet impor­tant, updates or to access data in the system from anyplace at any time.
  11. Bonus Tip : Have You Tried Sales Contests?
    Done right, sales contests can be a fun and simple way to increase adoption!  I love the idea of using contests to help adoption, because by running a contest, a company MUST simplify the most important things that need to get done, they have to make it interesting, and they get people’s energy moving with deadlines and friendly competition!

Have you thought about sales contests to increase salesforce adoption, or run any yourself?  I’d love to hear your stories in the comments here.


Remember, it’s not just the responsibility of the software you choose to make you successful, or the sales reps themselves.  The CEO bears the most responsibility here in also using it and staying committed to doing whatever it takes to help the company embrace it and use it effectively.  Sell – don’t command – people on the value and vision of what it will be like to have it embraced!

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