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All along my journey from Salesforce user, to advocate, to Admin, to an employee, there’s been one word that never seems to fade: Adoption.

 

We talk a lot about adoption at Salesforce, but what often goes unanswered is what we mean by that word. I’ve even had a couple of Salesforce Admins say to me, “But why adoption? It’s not like I’m bringing a baby home.”

 

Because I am adopted myself, I understand why it feels like such a personal (as in, not business) term. But here’s why I think it works: adopting a kid is more than just bringing home a child. It’s about adapting your life to what’s best for the child and for the family as a whole. It never stops.

 

Metaphorically speaking, Salesforce is similar to a child — it ’s not just about flipping a switch and turning on a cool new toy. To get the most out of it, and to see the best benefits to your company, you need to adapt your operations, your day-to-day processes, your decisions — and use Salesforce to help define and track your goals. You have to “adopt” Salesforce.

 

Now, let’s talk about some time-tested rules to adoption and how you can put them into action. Here are five tried-and-true rules that I learned on my journey with Salesforce and that really do work.

 

Principle #1: Get — and show — buy-in from the top

 

Having leadership buy-in is crucial for success. So make sure your leadership team (or you, if you’re the leader) understands the strategic value of Salesforce.

 

That’s critical, but it’s not enough on its own. You also have to make sure your leadership team doesn’t just voice this strategic value and dictate it from above, but also demonstrates personal investment in Salesforce by leading from the front and using the tool, day in and day out. This will galvanize employees to follow leadership’s example.

 

How can your leadership team start showing support for Salesforce?

  • Review analytics in Salesforce (no more asking for reports in Excel or ppt)

  • Collaborate and celebrate in Chatter - whether it’s a new deal, a strong quarter end, or someone’s birthday

  • Make adoption metrics part of your readout in large organizational meetings

 

Principle #2: Think like an end user

 

Top-down adoption and commitment is important, but so is bottom-up feedback. To that end, it’s critical to show that you understand and respect your end users’ needs. You can’t expect them to use something to do their job that was designed by someone who doesn’t know how to do that job.

 

3 great ways to get feedback:

 

  • User committees: regularly meet with a team of users — made up of both power users and the naysayers — to discuss what’s working, what’s not working, and what changes may be coming around the bend.
  • User surveys: give your users a way to provide candid feedback anonymously (ps: did you know you can do this right in Salesforce?)
  • Adoption dashboards: Salesforce also has prebuilt adoption dashboards available on AppExchange. This is a great way to identify your naysayers and track your progress toward more new power users. Pro tip: Consider mining nuggets from this for your leadership to celebrate on Chatter.

 

Principle #3: Commit to ease and simplicity

 

I often see Salesforce configurations with hundreds of fields — and dozens of them are required. As a user, when I see that and think of all the work it will mean — quite frankly, it’s a little scary.

 

Remember, less is often more in a process — keep this in mind when designing your own. Meanwhile, here are a few ways to simplify Salesforce for your users:

 

  • Use profiles and personalized page layouts: Give each user a different format and the right features based on their role.

  • Eliminate clutter: Run the Optimizer to find reports, extra fields, unused layouts, and other things that distract users or slow performance

  • Eliminate data entry: Make your team’s life easier by integrating their email into Salesforce. We have free connectors to both Outlook and Gmail. For bonus points (and ease of use) make use of our mobile app which features voice dictation.

 

Principle #4: Be needed

 

Ask yourself a very simple question: “Can my team do its job without Salesforce?” And if the answer is yes, then why have the team use it?

 

Your team’s time is valuable, so don’t have members waste time with redundant tools. Take advantage of your Salesforce investment and put everything your team needs to do its job all in one place and make it easy to access. Think through what information is needed day to day and determine if it can be added into Salesforce.

 

Turn Chatter sidebars into resource centers

 

Why have your team go into SharePoint or DropBox to find marketing material? They already have Salesforce pulled up to review customer information, so putting the other materials there as well makes sense, right?

 

For example, here at Salesforce, we have a Chatter group for each product — Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Pardot, and so on. Each group contains all of the customer-facing resources I use in my marketing role that make them easy to access, which in turn makes me need to use Salesforce, thus enhancing adoption.

 

Principle #5: Provide value

 

We talked about making Salesforce easy to use and requiring it in your processes, but you still need to ask, “Does it add value?”

 

More specifically ask yourself, “does Salesforce help my sales team close more deals?” Also ask, “does Salesforce allow my service team to close more cases?” If the answer to either question is, no, then it’s time to determine how to turn that around. Otherwise, what are we doing here?

 

Provide analytics that helps them sell

 

This is critical: analytics aren’t just for executives. It is a common misconception and something you need to drive home with your end users. Some great dashboards I have seen from customers are “no touch” dashboards — meaning, for example, if I haven’t called or emailed my Tier 1 accounts in 60 days, they are added to that dashboard, helping me stay on top of my sales/renewals cycle.

 

Lead scoring and grading

 

Crucially, this will allow your team to determine which prospects are the best fit for your product. And, as we all know, customer fit can make or break an organization. So incorporate this metric into Salesforce and use it.

 

Lead scoring and grading will also show you which prospects are most interested in speaking to you (for instance, opening your emails, going to your website). And, of course, this can often feel like the most salient piece given we all only have 24 hours in a day, but your team has hundreds or possibly thousands of prospects to call. Make sure they are spending time with the hottest prospects.

 

Successful adoption means adopting success

 

Following these five rules can’t guarantee a successful adoption, but they have been proven to work time and again. Incorporating them into your own company’s plans can not only help avoid wasted time, money, and effort, they can also help you get the most out of your Salesforce investment and, most importantly, improve your company’s bottom line.