As an Education Architect in EMEA, I often hear people say, “We don’t need a user adoption plan, our project is already well-organized and will be easy to implement.” Although you may think this is true, let me share a story about why user adoption IS critical to your success with Salesforce - no matter where you’re based, or the size of your organization - and how it can make a substantial difference to the success of your rollout.

I had a customer once, who when we first met, quickly articulated that they did not need a user adoption and change management plan. I think their words along the lines of “My whole team are very motivated and will adopt Salesforce easily.” Heard that one before? Me too! So I gave them a few basic recommendations on how to drive their project forward and wished them luck with their implementation.

A few months later, they called asking for help: it seemed that even though Salesforce was the best tool that they had ever had, nobody in the company was using it and they just couldn’t understand why.

After a bit of investigation, I found that they had launched Salesforce (a brand-new tool to their organization!) at the same time as they reallocated all customer portfolios. However, they had failed to inform any of the sales reps, who only discovered the change when they logged into Salesforce for the first time, causing massive confusion.

Even worse, they did not train any of their sales managers. This meant no one had any idea on how to access a global view on their teams’ opportunities, so they continued to fill in Excel files to track sales activities.

And to further complicate the issue, there was no local Salesforce support for when they launched within the regions. Many of the sales reps and sales assistants had lost their ID or forgotten their passwords and had no idea who to contact for help.

All these issues could have been avoided very easily with a user adoption strategy.

With the help of a full Salesforce Services team, we started with an in-depth evaluation to identify all the issues. The first area to be addressed was communication. We put a comprehensive plan together that ensured that all stakeholders were made aware of the change and how Salesforce could positively impact individual roles.

We wanted to drive home the point that the tool was not solely for the sales teams, but could help multiple departments in their day-to-day activities. For instance, the back office needed to know how to fill in customer information within the account section; the marketing team had to become familiar with campaigns; and the HR team were shown how to communicate information through Chatter. We then organized meetings for each team where we presented the details of their organization’s specific instance of Salesforce and answered all their questions.

Next, we planned customized training for each group of users, and identified “Salesforce champions” who were local and that could support and onboard new hires when needed. Each session included “real life” exercises so everyone understood exactly what was required of them.

To motivate the sales teams to continue to use the tool over the following 6 months, we then created Salesforce challenges where participants could win points for completing all the steps within an opportunity lifecycle. The challenge was for each Sales Rep to fill in all the required fields working with their full opportunity team - including marketing to design a promotional offer, production to ensure the availability of the products at the right time, operations for smooth fulfilment, and so on. The Sales Managers monitored opportunity “completeness” using customized reports that were then shared during team meetings where points were awarded. Once someone reached 10 points, they were entered into a prize draw for a nice dinner out.

And finally, to ensure that the managers continued to use Salesforce dashboards and reports, we created templates that they could personalize for their needs. The project sponsors made sure these Salesforce reports were used for each Monthly Sales meeting.

Today, this customer makes full use of their Salesforce functionality and continues to drive adoption, while they connect with their customers in a whole new way. With an effective User Adoption strategy, we were able to help them “reboot” their implementation and ultimately reach their goals.

They are still a little sheepish when I remind them of that first meeting where they were so dismissive of our user adoption ideas. Whereas jumping in feet first may seem like the easiest option, taking a step back to evaluate and implement a well-thought-out plan will ensure you have the most success.

Want to explore how a comprehensive user adoption strategy could benefit your implementation? Download our User Adoption Services brochure or contact your Salesforce Training Account Executive to discuss a program developed exclusively for your needs.