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8 Tips to Increase Salesforce User Adoption

By May 12, 2015

Cross-posted from ACF Solutions

By: Kathy Brown, Delivery Manager at ACF Solutions

User adoption is critical to the success of any CRM project. Bill Band of Forrester Research reported in 2012 that of all CRM project problems, 22% relate to “people issues,” the “most significant threats” being “slow user adoption, inadequate attention paid to change management and training, and difficulties in aligning the organization culture with new ways of working.”

ACF Solutions recently finished a Salesforce implementation at the United Nations Foundation (UNF) where User Adoption was a key concern going into the project. Lyrae Myxter, UNF’s project leader, her colleague Jordan Berger, and the ACF team (collectively the UNF “Core Salesforce Team”) worked from the very beginning to include user adoption strategies throughout the project. Here are the eight tactics that worked to support positive end user adoption at UNF:

1. Listen actively.

UNF stakeholders were numerous and diverse, including executives and 18 departments. The Core Salesforce Team spent considerable time asking questions to understand their pain points and identify opportunities to create efficiencies. These early conversations helped to build trusting relationships, which were important in encouraging higher adoption down the road.

2. Remain positive.

Because of the existence of a legacy CRM system, the team needed to be sensitive to user burnout and wariness that any new system would be a panacea. The team maintained a “positive approach;” and acknowledged users’ pain points, understanding that any negativity was coming from a place of need.

3. Set a baseline measurement.

As part of the listening tour, Lyrae and Jordan sought to quantify the existing levels of effort required for the various functions slated for CRM. This would establish a baseline against which UNF would measure the success of the new system and, therefore, further encourage user adoption.

4. Empower enthusiasts.

The team identified prospective users who were enthusiastic about the Salesforce initiative. Twenty-five of them – representing each affected department – formed the “Champions” group which served as a communication conduit to and from the frontlines, relaying messages, sharing success stories and reporting back questions or issues.

5. Name Salesforce Administrators early.

Because a new CRM system would require staff members to learn new software, it was important to identify Salesforce admins early in the process who had both technical know-how and people skills. Early identification also allowed UN Foundation’s four admins to receive advanced training and provide visible frontline support.

6. Communicate frequently and clearly.

Communication – up and down the organization’s ladder — was a critical piece of the implementation strategy. Lyrae actively managed a communication plan that varied by the audience. Some of the most effective communications included: Company-wide meetings, Salesforce e-Bulletins, use of Champions to distribute information, and Salesforce Open House meetings.

7. Celebrate success.

Throughout the process Lyrae and her team shared Salesforce successes big and small, and communicated each time a milestone was reached. At launch, early adopters and champions were celebrated, thanked and rewarded with Salesforce-branded swag. Rick Parnell, UNF’s Chief Operating Officer, in his “launch day” email encouraged “shout outs” for continued success. Signs of celebration were everywhere – Power Points looped on monitors throughout UNF and quotes dotted white boards and glass walls throughout the building. The success of UNF’s launch was shared with the entire organization.

8. Review, refine, repeat

At 6 months post-launch, Lyrae reports that there is “active engagement” of Salesforce and a “pretty good adoption rate.” Launch, however, is just the beginning of her work. ACF is working with Lyrae to increase Salesforce adoption by identifying new business processes that would benefit from being added to Salesforce. As UNF begins the process for Phase 2 of their Salesforce implementation, the team is reviewing Phase 1 feedback. Those results as well as qualitative and quantitative metrics, will influence our way forward in Phase 2. Because, as Lyrae is oft to quote, “change is the only constant.”

About the Author
Kathy BrownKathy Brown is a Delivery Manager at ACF Solutions, implementing solutions for their nonprofit clients. In her two-years with ACF, Kathy has led fulll implementations for a wide range or organizations including the United Nations Foundation, National Public Radio and Brookings Institute. She holds her Salesforce Admin Certification.