Salesforce.com is a tool, and tools are meant to make life easier. So if nobody is using your shiny new Salesforce.com instance, then it’s very likely that it’s not making people’s lives easier.
It's hard to address and improve low adoption without a strong understanding of how you got to where you are. As you're starting to think through how to tackle this significant problem (or how to prevent it if you're just getting started with Salesforce.com), there are three major areas of focus.
- Process Alignment
- Value Creation
- User Experience
Salesforce.com needs to be built to match and complement the sales process. There are two major potential breakdowns in this arena.
- Instead of modifying the system to accomodate the process, you modify the process to accomodate the system. Customizing Salesforce.com can be expensive and time consuming, but it's worth it to end up with a product that works. If you don't, then you'll end up with a foregin process and a new tool--the perfect storm for user resistance.
- The documented process was not aligned to the reality of the process. It's possible that Salesforce.com was customized perfectly to the "paper" process, but the paper didn't connect to real life. In a structured system like Salesforce.com, undocumented process deviations that were not captured in the requirements can cause significant user frustration and confusion. It's important that before you build a system on your paper process, that you talk to the sales team to ensure the paper process is accurate.
In short, you need to check (and re-check) to make sure that Reality = Process = Salesforce.
- Don't forget that this whole system is a two-way street. While it's perfectly reasonable to expect your users to enter data into the system, if you ask for too much data and you don't add tangible value or meaningful context to it, users will lose interest quickly. Data entry should be logically aligned to the workflow and sales stages should map to real progress. All of the data organization and workflow should be directed towards outcomes instead of activities.
- When we work with our clients, we always break Salesforce.com up into strictly defined stages, with specific requirements that must be met before moving a lead through the sales cycle. This is developed collaboratively, so it’s a great way of making sure both the official and the ‘unofficial’ process are covered, and it keeps the whole team involved and gets the users invested in the system. The structured stages then add meaning and context to all of the data that users are asked to input, and also lead to much more robust reporting for the business.
- All of the success of the system ultimately comes down to the ability for users to log in, access what is relevant to them, and input data. Although that may sound obvious, it's not a simple as you might think. This comes down to making their experience in Salesforce.com as streamlined, painless, and engaging as possible. This can be accomplished in a number of relatively straightforward ways. Creating user profiles for different roles, and then removing unnecessary fields and data will help declutter the workspace. Another way of improving the user experience is to look for duplicate data entry points--if a task within the process is truly repetitive, redundant, or useless, then users will quickly discount the value of the whole process.
These are not necessarily quick fixes--but more of a guide of where to look, who to talk to, and what to ask about within your organization to determine what specifically needs to be changed to make your users happy and your business successful.
If you're ready to start getting to the bottom of your adoption issues, we've put together a simple pulse survey that you can use to capture feedback and thoughts from your team regarding Salesforce.com.