Be an Adoption All-Star Like Shannon Gregg

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On this week’s Salesforce Admins Podcast we’ve got Shannon Gregg, President of Cloud Adoption Solutions and author of It’s About Time. We discuss the ins and outs of adoption from her unique position as both someone who consults in it and also as a researcher studying it for her Ph.D. dissertation.

Join us as we talk about what you can do as an admin to position Salesforce in your organization to make it successful and help your users become more efficient.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Shannon Gregg.

That feeling when you fall in love with Salesforce.

Shannon first encountered Salesforce because she was running the Sales department of her company. “They were like, ‘Here you go, you run sales operations, therefore Salesforce comes along with it,’” Shannon says. “Once I started digging around inside of it, I was instantly hooked,” she says. A lot of the work she was already doing used Excel to track things like RFIs and pricing volumes, but Salesforce took that to the next level.

The organization Shannon was working for was acquired by another company, which didn’t have a true Sales Operations department. “When I got to work for that company, I came in and said, ‘Now let’s look at the power Salesforce can give us for collaboration, for communication, and find the best way for us to sell,’” she says. That approach worked great, and as the business continued to grow and make more acquisitions, Salesforce use just kept growing and growing. “Our board of directors just loved it,” she says, “they loved the ability to look at their phone at 2 o’clock in the morning as see what’s happening with their business.”

How a governance committee can give you support for broader adoption.

“One of the things I love the best about adoption is opening somebody else’s eyes to help them see the power of the platform to help them be more efficient and effective in their workday,” Shannon says. If you want someone to commit themselves fully to Salesforce, they need to understand what’s in it for them. It’s a simple goal to shoot for, but takes a lot of effort and thinking to make it happen.

Beyond that, establishing a governance committee can be a big help towards encouraging broader adoption in your org. Shannon recommends figuring out which executive ultimately is responsible for the Salesforce spend at your business and getting them involved. Get them on Chatter, help them get the Dashboards they need, get them to better understand the platform and they’ll be a big mouthpiece for you. Look at people in Sales, Finance, Project Management, the people who are involved in Salesforce every day or who require the outputs, and meet regularly to go over what’s working and what’s not.

Balancing your Awesome Admin goals.

Managing all of the demands on your time as a Salesforce Admin is tricky. “You could be doing this job 24 hours a day, and many of us would like to because we love it that much,” Shannon says, “but for me, I like to say what am I managing by metrics and what am I managing by objective?” Look at your own metrics as a Salesforce Admin to make sure that you’re getting your bigger goals done, and find a way to visualize it, whether that’s Calendar View, the Kanban Board, or a custom Dashboard.

The research Shannon is doing on adoption.

“My Ph.D. dissertation is really focused on engagement and time-to-mission,” Shannon says. She’s looking at how nonprofits use Salesforce to allow them to improve productivity while also being more controlled with what they’re doing day to day. She’s working closely with nonprofit user groups to learn the challenges of engagement and implementation, which ultimately affects how effectively they can reach their goals.

Shannon’s research combines IT theory, change management theory, and adult education theory, all three of which combine to create engagement. “Engagement is so fantastic for us internally,” she says, “because it gives us time for critical mission work; and it’s also so important for communities because so many people are using Salesforce in an external way as well.” It’s that special mix of technical tools that help organizations get their real-world goals done better that makes Salesforce magical.

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce admins product, we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I’m Gillian Bruce. Today on the podcast we are talking all about adoption. We’re going to be speaking with Shannon Gregg who is an incredible member of our Salesforce Ohana. She’s currently president of Cloud Adoption Solutions. She’s written a book called It’s About Time. And she is currently studying for her PhD in the Salesforce space, if you can believe it. And I wanted to get her on the podcast to share some amazing things that she’s learned in her Salesforce career about how to get users to adopt Salesforce, and as an admin what you can do to position Salesforce in your organization to really make it successful and help your users become more efficient.

Gillian Bruce: So, without further ado, let’s get Shannon on the pod.

Gillian Bruce: Shannon, welcome to the podcast.

Shannon Gregg: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, I am so happy to have you on. This has been a long time coming. You’re in the ecosystem doing some amazing work for a while, and I’m so happy to finally have you on the podcast. You’ve done some great work around a lot of things we want to get into, especially around adoption, time management, engagement. But before we get into that I’d love to introduce you a little bit to our listeners by asking you the question that I like to lead off with: Shannon, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Shannon Gregg: When I grew up I wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer.

Gillian Bruce: Yes. I love it. Tell me more. Why did you want to be a Solid Gold dancer?

Shannon Gregg: Oh, why not? You know, for the people who are listening that are a little too young to remember Solid Gold dancers, they were technically amazing, and they had all of the brilliant skills you would expect from any trained dancer. But they were ultra-glam. They had the best hair and the most sequins. And so I can’t imagine why anybody would not want to be a Solid Gold dancer when they grew up.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, I feel like there’s still a part of me that still wants to be one of those. I mean, we do have golden hoodies in the Salesforce Ohana, right? I mean, that’s kind of next best thing. It’s close, right?

Shannon Gregg: I think it is. I think that’s like the adult’s version of Solid Gold dancer.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. So how did you go from wanting to be a Solid Gold dancer … Well, let’s say you probably never gave that up. But then now you are in the Salesforce Ohana doing some amazing work. Tell me a little bit about your career path and how you encountered Salesforce.

Shannon Gregg: So, I encounter Salesforce as an accidental admin, as so many of us really do. I was working inside of a company where I was handed Salesforce. Here you go, you run sales operations, therefore Salesforce comes along with it. And since I had been in the field myself I was familiar with Serum Systems, but hadn’t used Salesforce myself as a user. So once I started digging inside of it i was instantly hooked. I mean, you talk about understanding the power of something. Once I saw the power of it I was like, “This is it. This is going to be the rest of my life. I love this thing.”

Shannon Gregg: And the other thing is there’s not much to do with a degree in English literature.

Gillian Bruce: All right. All right. So you had a sales kind of background. You came into Salesforce from kind of that sales perspective, correct?

Shannon Gregg: Right.

Gillian Bruce: And then you say, okay, so you encountered Salesforce. You dug and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, this is amazing.” What were some of the things that immediately made it appeal to you, or what helped you understand the power of it as a first-time user?

Shannon Gregg: So I think for me I was already in love with Excel because a lot of the work I was doing as a salesperson was very heavy in regulation and proposals and pricing volumes and really tracking RFIs. So I thought Excel was pretty powerful at that. And then once I discovered the elasticity of the platform of Salesforce and how you could understand version control of answers that you were getting for RFIs, you could put in automation, you could have more efficiency. And frankly you could make more sales calls. That to me was the most appealing thing I had probably ever seen in terms of a use of technology. And then I went to my first Dreamforce, and I don’t think a person ever leaves Dreamforce without feeling like great, I’m married to Salesforce now.

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Ohana, there’s no going back.

Shannon Gregg: Never, never. We’re stuck. We live here now.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So you are newly charged with operating and managing Salesforce as an admin, kind of coming in from the sales perspective. You grasped the power of the platform, you go to your first Dreamforce. Then what happens? Where does your career go from there?

Shannon Gregg: Well, I was working in a venture-backed company, and of course you know with venture-backed companies, their ultimate goal is either to be acquired by private equity or get themselves into position for IPO. And so the company that acquired the company I was working for didn’t have a true sales operations department. They did have a Salesforce admin but he was highly technical. So when I got to work for that company I came in and said, “All right. Now let’s look at the power that this platform can give us for collaboration, for communication, and find the best way for us to sell in the best way for our customers.” And it worked so well. The sales teams then integrated, everybody knew where everybody was at. Management was solid, and as we made several more acquisitions after that the Salesforce use just kept growing and growing and growing.

Shannon Gregg: And I really do credit the ability to say, “Here’s the power of Salesforce. It gives us data to make decisions.” And so there’s no more emotion. And mergers and acquisitions are very emotional for the people caught up in them.” We were able to really look at it and say, “Hey. Here’s something that’s going to give you all the information you need so we know the best way forward.” And that was very comforting for my sales people. Really exciting for management. And then our board of directors just loved it. They loved the ability to look at their phone at two o’clock in the morning and say, “What’s happening with my business.”

Gillian Bruce: That’s so cool. And you were able to make that happen. So tell me a little bit about, you know, I know one of the things that you’ve written about and you’ve presented about several times in the community is about adoption. So exactly this topic. So tell me a little bit some of the things that you’ve learned and some best practices to help some other admins roll out and successful implement like you’ve done in your past.

Shannon Gregg: One of the things I love the best about adoption is opening somebody else’s eyes to help them see the power of the platform to be more efficient and effective in their workday, to do what they want to do, which you know, with salespeople is to make more sales, with client success is to maintain the current client base they have. Once they get what’s in it for them there are a few tips and tricks that you can use to keep them motivated and then allow them, empower them to be evangelical about it as well.

Shannon Gregg: So I loved the idea of establishing a governance committee. So I would encourage other admins to look inside of their organization and say, “Who was the executive that purchased this, or who’s the executive that this sits on their budget or their profit and loss statement, who ultimately is responsible for the spend.” Get them on your governance committee. Get them using Chatter. Get them really helping to understand what dashboards they need. And they’ll be a big mouth for you, which is amazing. Get the salespeople, the people from finance, project management, people who are involved in a daily way or who require the outputs of Salesforce. So maybe they’re the ERP owner. Bringing in people from different facets or different aspects of the organization is a good way to really keep them on guard. And you meet regularly and ask them what’s working well with Salesforce, what should I never change, and what do you wish it would do, and what’s working horribly.

Shannon Gregg: And when you sit inside of that governance committee, really it’s just a way for you to do that Eric Ries Lean startup thing, right. You’re getting the voice of customer, because your customers are the Salesforce users. They come back and tell you, “Here’s what we want.” And that is such a great way to get them invested and involved.”

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Those are some amazing tips, and you know, one of the things I really like and I hear about for people who have done successful adoption and implementations of Salesforce or Salesforce admins is, you know, you talked a lot about connecting the dots between different people in different departments. And one of the things that I see very often is that a successful Salesforce admin truly as the heart and kind of the center of the spoked wheel of the business, right. Because you’re connecting to executives, to your users, to all the different stakeholders. And you’re kind of bringing in that Salesforce magic to connect them all with the platform. And then you’re also kind of really understanding how the entire business runs and able to add that layer to the technology. Really kind of that’s the admin magic piece I think.

Shannon Gregg: I totally agree with you. It’s like that scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy sees behind the screen. And that guy is back there running the technology, but he’s also this big powerful voice. That’s who we are as admins. We’re the ones who are behind the curtains doing all the technical work. But we’re also those big powerful voices saying, “Here’s what you can and should do.” And that’s such a cool opportunity. What a great job.

Gillian Bruce: I totally agree. That’s a really great visual. I absolutely remember that moment in the Wizard of Oz. It’s a fantastic moment because you’re like, “Wait. He’s running all of that just in that little booth. That is actually really cool!” So I love that. Salesforce admins are like the Wizard of Oz.

Gillian Bruce: So you mentioned a lot of things. So as a Salesforce admin you’ve got a lot on your plate. There’s a lot to do. There’s a lot of people to connect, a lot of processes to kind of establish and maintain. How can you do it all? It’s a lot of work, and you’re only kind of one person. So how do you kind of manage all of those demands and make sure everything gets done?

Shannon Gregg: Yes. That is the ultimate question, and I think for Salesforce admins you could be doing this job 24 hours a day. And many of us would like to, because we love it that much. But for me I like to say, “What am I managing by metrics, and what am I managing by objectives.” So what things have to get done today? Do I have to reset a user’s password so that they can get in there and enter some opportunities. You know, when you look at your sort of fire drill things, like those things have to get done. But then how do you prioritize the rest of your day. And I like to look at it by saying, “What are my metrics as a Salesforce admin. How well are people using it? Have they logged in? Should I be checking on these things quarterly? What types of security should I be setting up? Should I be investigating other things to integrate into Salesforce? Like power dialers or sales enablement solutions.”

Shannon Gregg: And then looking at your longer-term projects, which is, you know, something like data hygiene. So if you’ve got a data hygiene project that’s pervasive. It never ever stops. And so for me I like to visualize that. I like visual management. So putting that in front of you and saying, “This is always a high priority.” You know, responding to my users, if it’s something that they want, not a feature request, but something that’s stopping them from doing their job, that’s something that takes priority. But if it’s something that’s a long range goal for me, that’s something that I need to understand where I can fit that into my day. And of course calendaring is the best way to do that.

Gillian Bruce: I’m a huge fan of the calendar, right. If it’s not on the calendar it doesn’t exist.

Shannon Gregg: No way!

Gillian Bruce: So is that kind of the main tool you use as a kind of your time management tool or do you also use a custom object in Salesforce. Are there others apps or other things that you like to use to help you manage all of those maybe incoming requests and demands?

Shannon Gregg: Definitely. So for me I like to use tasks and activities. I like to say, “What do I have coming up? Is this something that’s going to happen often? Is it recurring? Do I need to do this all the time?” So my time sheets. I need to do those every Friday at 9:00 a.m., so that’s a task that will pop up and tell me all over the place, “Hey lady. Here’s something that you have to do.” And I think using that sort of thing is a really good way to manage those pervasive activities.

Shannon Gregg: If you’ve got something that is a custom project, like you’re looking at strategic initiatives for the year, then I think a custom object is a good way to manage that. Because you want to be able to say in that sort of pathway view, how am I making progress. And you can create dashboards for your own self that says, you know, “I wanted to be able to create this for my users. And it’s in progress but it’s been in progress for 13 weeks so I better go over and check that out.”

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I love that. I mean, using the core functionality of the platform to really help yourself become more productive. I mean, especially now with lightning, right. We’ve got calendar view for things like tasks and different objects. And you got Kanban Board that [inaudible 00:13:12] board which is like one of my favorite things, you can-

Shannon Gregg: Amazing-

Gillian Bruce: … just move things over to the next status and feel really good about it because it like looks really cool.

Shannon Gregg: It does!

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. So that’s really really great. Okay. So one of the things that we haven’t quite touched on yet that I know is also near and dear to you, a lot of the work that you do is this idea of engagement. Especially engagement within the community. In fact I believe you are kind of studying this officially at this point. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you’re working on now.

Shannon Gregg: This is so true. My PhD dissertation is really focused on engagement and time to missions. So I am working on specifically non-profits, how they use Salesforce, and how it allows them to be very productive in their day and give the things that are needed to their funders, to their stakeholders, to their key constituents. But also be more controlled with the things that they’re doing all day long. And so all of my academic research has been on IT theory, change management theory, and adult education theory. Because those three things all wrap together into exactly what we need for engagement. And it has been amazing. I have found way more research out there than I thought. And none of them are really connecting in this way. So I’m super pumped about this topic.

Shannon Gregg: And the non-profit user groups have been so tremendous in giving me feedback in things that they’ve found that are challenging for them, things that they’ve found that are amazing for them. And I, when I am done with this will have way more data points than I even know what to do with. But engagement is so fantastic for us internally, because once we engage with the platform and use it better it gives us what we need, which is time for critical mission work. And it’s also really important for communities, because so many people are using Salesforce in an external way as well. So that engagement goes in a full circle, from everybody that we touch inside to outside. And it is tremendous.

Gillian Bruce: I cannot agree with you more. I think it’s so fascinating that you’re bringing those kind of three topic areas, those three areas of research together, because I think for me, I don’t know, I would assume that all of those things would kind of talk about similar things. But the fact that you’re bringing them together like you said for the first time in a lot of cases must be fascinating to see how all of those combine into really helping people understand how to implement technology in this way.

Shannon Gregg: Oh, definitely, and I haven’t found any research that connects the three of those in this manner. But to me it’s like so crystal clear. That’s exactly what Salesforce force does. It allows people to connect so that they can go do what it is that they’re super passionate about doing. And I think everybody who’s listening can think about how this is working in their own life and say, “Yes of course,” and that that’s the power of the Ohana to me. I know so many other people’s stories, because people celebrate it so much. And that’s really what this research has been to me, is just a giant celebration.

Gillian Bruce: That’s so cool. I’m so excited to see your work when you’re done-

Shannon Gregg: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: … and I’m sure that it will help many many organizations around the world kind of really, you know, like you said, pursue their passions with, you know, [inaudible 00:16:25] and kind of that technical tool that enables everybody to do more. So that’s very cool. Thank you for doing that important work.

Shannon Gregg: No, thank you. And I think, you know, it’s really exciting for organizations too because it’s really a recruitment tool for them. I mean, to be able to say to workers in 2019, millennials and the generation beyond, “Hey, we’ve got technology which you require, demand, and absolutely expect. Here it is. It’s here for you. And this is what it’s going to help you do.”

Gillian Bruce: Absolutely, I mean we talk about this fourth industrial revolution at Dreamforce for the last few years, and it’s part of this whole this is where Salesforce can really play a key part here by connecting the dots. And the human piece of it is I think probably even more important. And I think the more we talk about it … The technology’s great but, you know, a lot of people can learn the technology. We’ve got Trailhead. But that element of understanding how to bring it all together kind of that, like I said, that kind of magic which I think is really really special. So very cool. Well, Shannon, I so appreciate you taking the time to share with us on the podcast. But before I let you go I am going to ask you a lighting round question.

Shannon Gregg: Oh, okay, okay, all right we’ll see what it is.

Gillian Bruce: All right. There’s no right or wrong answer, so the first thing to come to mind. And you ready?

Shannon Gregg: I think so.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So, Shannon, we are coming into spring here in the northern hemisphere. It’s a time of change, especially for those that live in areas of the world that actually have weather changes with seasons. What is one of your favorite things about spring?

Shannon Gregg: Oh, one of my favorite things about spring is being able to shed my giant winter coat, which we in Pittsburgh require for many many months, and just go on walks with my dogs and my daughter and my husband. I think to me spring is about taking nice family walks.

Gillian Bruce: I love that. That’s great. Yes. I take it for granted living here in San Francisco. We don’t really have a spring. It’s all kind of pretty nice. So I appreciate those of you who live in colder weather areas in the winter that get an actual spring. So thank you for sharing that. Thank you so much for joining us today, Shannon. I so appreciate the work you’re doing and sharing your expertise with all our listeners. And I very much look forward to what comes of your research and the resources that you’ve got that are going to really help everybody use Salesforce better.

Shannon Gregg: Thank you so much for having me on, and thank you for everything that you’re doing. I truly just enjoy every day of my life because of people like you. So thanks for giving me the opportunity.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, so many warm fuzzies. Thanks so much.

Shannon Gregg: Have a great day.

Gillian Bruce: Well, I got all kinds of warm fuzzies talking to Shannon, and I got some really great inspiration about ways to help drive adoption within your organization as Salesforce admin. So, some of my top takeaways from the chat that we had with Shannon today. First of all, think about how you approach Salesforce. She first approached Salesforce as a sales user, and then looking at it from a business operations perspective, thinking about how it was a tool that would help maximize collaboration and drive efficiencies across sales operations or sales processes.

Gillian Bruce: I remember her saying, “Here’s the power of Salesforce. It gives us the data to make decisions based on data, not emotions.” And that is hugely important when you’re trying to get executives and other stakeholders bought in to using and adopting the system. Because it’s true. If you’ve got all the data it makes it so much easier to make informed decisions as a business leader.

Gillian Bruce: Now, once she’s got people on board they naturally become evangelists because adoption is all about opening someone else’s eyes to help them see the power of the platform, to help them be more efficient and effective in their job. So if something does that for you you are naturally going to want to share that with others. When you are looking at adoption and setting up systems at your organization, a few things that I thought Shannon pointed out that were very important: Establish a regular governance meeting. And look at getting stakeholders at that meeting who aren’t maybe your traditional end users, but folks that are in project management, or in operations. Think about the executive. Find the executive who actually has Salesforce as a line time on their budget and get them using Chatter, get them using dashboards. That is how you are going to be successful in getting people at your organization to use Salesforce, and how you will get resources to help build Salesforce to make your organization successful.

Gillian Bruce: Okay, and lastly, I can’t recap this conversation without mentioning how us as admins, we provide that admin magic, just like the Wizard of Oz. I loved how Shannon pointed out that admins really are behind the scenes doing the tech work, but also we’re that big voice setting the vision for what Salesforce can do and how you can transform your organization.

Gillian Bruce: So with that I am going to wrap the recap. I hope you enjoyed this chat with Shannon. Please remember to share this podcast with your friends and your Salesforce Ohana. If you subscribe to the podcast that makes sure you get the latest and greatest episodes delivered directly to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released. Now, if you want to learn more about some of the things we chatted about on this episode, good news, we’ve got resources for you. So first of all, go check out Shannon’s book, It’s About Time. I put the link in the show notes. There’s also a couple of Trailhead modules I highly recommend if you’re thinking about adoption best practices. There’s a model called Salesforce Adoption Strategies. And there’s another module called User Adoption Metrics.

Gillian Bruce: Check those out. They are not extensive modules but they have a lot of great information in there to help you get set up for success as you’re trying to get your users and your organization to use Salesforce. As always you can find more great things from the awesome admin team at admin.salesforce.com. Blogs, webinars, events, and yes, even more podcasts like this one. You can find our guest today, Shannon Gregg

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