6 Guiding Principles to Maximize Your Salesforce Adoption

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Adoption. It’s the one word that never seems to fade wherever you may stand in your customer journey. And it’s no wonder why: Understanding how to help your organization and end users adopt, or start using and loving their Salesforce product in a way that’s valuable to your unique organization, is the quickest way to start maximizing your investment.

We talk a lot about adoption at Salesforce and why it’s important, but if you’re looking to get into the nitty-gritty of what the best practices to ensure a smooth and easy adoption look like, look no further! Here are six tried-and-true principles that will better equip your team to get your adoption up and running.

Principle #1: Prepare for change management

This is at the baseline of user adoption. Before you start going with guns blazing, you’ll want to be thoughtful in your preparation by having an operating model and a change management plan. This will allow your team to outline the vision of how your implementation of Salesforce will work in the future. It contributes not only to leadership support but also to ultimately building up a platform that your users will actually need and benefit from using.

First and foremost, your operating model should consider two things: Who are the people that will use the product on a daily basis, and how do people want to learn about these changes? At the outset, knowing your roles and audiences is critical — your leaders, your doers, your early adopters. Ask yourself: Who are the users that are going to champion this change? Your plan should look to uplift those individuals.

From there, a governance model starts to come together. We have Salesforce Accelerators on governance best practices to help you get started. And no change management plan is complete without a communications strategy and a natural cadence that benefits users.

So, how can we get this ball rolling as you get ready to enact this change? Our first tip is leveraging adoption dashboards. Salesforce has prebuilt adoption dashboards available on the AppExchange. This is a great way to identify your naysayers and track your progress toward more new power users. You’ll know if your change management plan is working if your adoption is upticking.

Pro tip: Consider mining nuggets from this blog for your leadership to celebrate in your internal communication tool like Chatter or Slack. More on that in the next principle.

Principle #2: Demonstrate leadership buy-in

Once you’ve outlined a change management plan and begun your implementation, the next step is having leadership help support this change by demonstrating adoption from the top-down. 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.

How can your leadership team start to show their support? It’s a pretty simple fix, believe it or not: Make sure leaders always lead by example. They can’t just talk the talk — they need to walk the walk.

Opt for using Salesforce in meetings, especially when it comes to reviewing analytics, looking at a pipeline with your team, or pulling up a dashboard to look at data together. By leading meetings from Salesforce, you enforce the importance of using it. You could even go so far as to start incorporating adoption metrics as part of your readout in large organizational meetings.

This, paired with a leader’s narrative — which supports how this model increases success in contrast to the old way of doing things — is a great way to express support for this new model you want your team to embrace. This leads us to our next principle.

Principle #3: Know your end users

You can’t expect your users to embrace change and use something to do their job if it was designed by someone who doesn’t know how to do that job. It is therefore critical to give your users an equal seat at the table when it comes to your new implementation.

This seat at the table looks like opening the floor for continuous feedback with guard rails. This is a three-step process that includes Interviewing, Observing, and Co-Designing your solution with your users. Listen to what your users need, determine how their day-to-day with the product differs across user functionality, and work together to address any issues with the current model.

3 step feedback process: Interview, Contextual Inquiry, and Co-Design

A great way to get feedback is by establishing user committees. Regularly meet with a team of users — made up of both power users and the naysayers — to discuss what is and isn’t working, and to determine where changes can be made.

Another great method of you can deploy is sending surveys. Not every single end user can be part of a user committee, so this is a great way to scale across your organization for feedback. It also provides a way for users to give feedback anonymously, which can mean more candid results.

Your business will change. And, as it changes, so will your team’s day-to-day. So don’t stop making improvements! Both surveys and user committees can take place on a regular basis so you can get a consistent feedback loop.

At this point, you’ve got a change management plan in place, your leaders are encouraging adoption, and the users feel seen. What’s next?

Principle #4: Commit to simplicity

Now it’s time to get into some higher-level guiding principles: Always, always, always commit to simplicity! By this, I mean commit to supporting a simple business process. One of most common issues we see with adoption comes from companies configuring Salesforce with dozens of required fields for whatever the task at hand may be. And, as an end user, if I were to pull that up, it seems like a lot of work and, quite frankly, a little overwhelming.

We built Salesforce to be simple and seamless for each and every one of your users. We spend thousands of hours interviewing customers and designing the best user experience. There are many simple processes already built in to the technology. So before you think about all the ways to customize, first take a look at the out-of-the-box technology. And, always think simplicity first.

Ascribe to the less is more mentality as you think through your processes. This is best achieved when you can pinpoint exactly what is needed and what the challenges are. In other words, know your end users! If something in your process isn’t helping to support your users, it’s time to rethink it.

Get a baseline of understanding what your users need by working one-on-one with an end users to co-design and literally sketch out what a meaningful, simple design might look like. This is an incredibly useful exercise that could turn a 25-step process into a 10-step one.

Tools & tips you can use to simplify:

  • Salesforce Optimizer: You can start to eliminate clutter by running Salesforce Optimizer to find reports, extra fields, unused layouts, and other things that distract users or slow performance. Then, check out the summary pages to dive deeper into the ones that matter most to you.
  • Profile & Page Layouts: You can also leverage Profiles & Page Layouts, which will give each user a different look and feel based on their role, and allow them to only see the information that’s relevant to them.
  • Automation: Use automation to eliminate data entry. You can make things easier for your team 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.

All of these are meaningful and intentional ways of adapting Salesforce to meet your business needs, which leads us to our next principle.

Principle #5: Be meaningful

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 all in one place — and make it easy to access. Think through what information they need in their day-to-day, and determine if it would be meaningful, or strategically beneficial, to add it into Salesforce.

Most people think Salesforce becomes essential when there are more active users, so they focus on driving usage through tangible adoption. But instead, the focus should be on what is meaningful first, and then letting that drive advocacy and adoption.

Meaningful - Useful - Tangible

Think of it from the perspective of someone in sales using Salesforce. In sales and renewals, some of the most helpful dashboards are “no touch” dashboards — meaning, if a user hasn’t called or emailed their Tier 1 accounts in 60 days, they are added to that dashboard, helping them to stay on top of their sales cycles.

Another example is using Salesforce for Leads & Opportunity management. Users will leverage it for this one use, but then turn to an Excel file for Quoting. Why have them use another tool when Quoting is available right in Salesforce?

Again, you might not be in sales, but it’s really about the art of what is possible — and being meaningful with how you approach each user’s setup.

Principle #6: Train, learn, repeat

While Salesforce is easy to use, your team needs to be properly trained in order for adoption to be easy. Everyone learns differently, so training requires a multifaceted approach and needs to be re-addressed as an ongoing process. To get started, I recommend taking a look at the four stages of learning before approaching the creation of a structured learning plan.

4 stages of competence

The four stages of competence, also known as the four stages of learning, is a model based on the premise that before a learning experience begins, learners are unaware of what or how much they know. As they learn, they move through four psychological states until they reach a stage of unconscious competence.

By understanding the model, trainers can better identify learning needs and develop learning objectives based on where their target audience is in the four stages related to a given topic. As you tailor your specific training program, plan for each of these stages and think through how to avoid risk of rejection or resistance to change at each phase. Continuous and ongoing learning is key for all users.

You’ll also want to think about various learning styles present in your group of users, and design training materials and methods around them. For many people today, reading through a large amount of materials is not effective. You may want to consider creating short training videos or articles focused on a particular kind of work. Hands-on training in a sandbox has also proven to be very effective in helping users build muscle memory in training workshops.

Conclusion

By looking at these six guiding principles, your team will be better set up for success to start using, loving, and getting the most value out of your investment.

It’s important to note that adoption looks different for everybody and depends on your unique business goals. If you’re in sales, adoption could be how much data gets into the system or ensuring your forecasting is accurate. If you’re in service, it could be the number of logins you’re seeing or call handle times with case management. Like I said, every case is different.

We acknowledge that change is hard, and adoption can be difficult. But ultimately, by combining the power of Salesforce technology and adamant user adoption, we know that great adoption leads to returned business value, fast. That’s the Salesforce promise.

Resources

Five Things Salesforce Admins Can Do to Improve Adoption

Welcome to “Five Things for Salesforce Admins”— a blog series where we dive into various Salesforce features and talk about five ways you may not have thought about using them before!  One of the biggest challenges that Salesforce Administrators face is getting end-users to use the system regularly. Often there is a rush of excitement […]

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Drive User Adoption with Next-Level Dashboards

When we talk about adoption and Salesforce implementations, we often talk about Carrots and Sticks. A Carrot presents a benefit to your end user— when they engage with your app in the desired fashion they get something positive out of the interaction. A Stick is a penalty or negative consequence for a user using an […]

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