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Improving Salesforce Adoption & Performance

· Jeremy Boudinet · 9 Minute Read

Investing in a CRM is a major undertaking, both operationally and financially. This article and accompanying case studies show how to improve Salesforce adoption and performance in your organization. 

For any company, adopting a CRM means committing two of your most precious resources, your time and your money, to implementing the software, training your user base, moving data, and reconfiguring processes.

Adding to the anxiety that comes with such sweeping changes are statistics like those drawn by CRM expert David Taber last year, asserting, for one example, that "35 percent of CRM implementations faced serious user adoption errors."

A particularly disturbing stat: "Only half of CRM customers are achieving significant sales performance improvements or believe they can get real time information from their CRM system."

Where Salesforce.com Ranks

The Good News for Salesforce adopters: You are working with the industry software that Taber recently labeled "The 800 pound gorilla in the CRM Market."

Sure enough, a 2013 Ovum Decision Matrix study appraised Salesforce as having "among the highest levels of market presence in the CRM industry." The study cites the CRM's comprehensiveness, suitability for a "very broad range of large enterprise requirements," and possession of essential features as underlying causes behind Salesforce's massive popularity.

The Ovum study's findings also align with the staggering usage numbers noted by Taber in his exhaustive Salesforce text: Salesforce.com Secrets of Success. As of 2013, the company claimed the following swath of market territory:

  1. Usage in over 100,000 organizations worldwide.
  2. 2 million end users
  3. 100,000 external developers.

Popularity, however, does not always equate to consumer satisfaction. Just look at numbers from last year, when the average CRM customer "had adoption rates of less than 75 percent among its sales team."

Improving User Adoption of Salesforce

Having the best-in-class CRM simply is not enough to ensure success -- it is up to your organization to cultivate user buy-in and commitment for full-scale Salesforce adoption to occur.

Last year's Ovum Decision Matrix report on the CRM industry granted Salesforce both the "top-ranking aggregate technology score" and "top-ranking customer satisfaction score" with regard to automation."

What do these findings tell us? The tools for success are there. The trick is in getting your entire sales team to begin using them.

Salesforce customers are operating at a strategic advantage to non-Salesforce companies, but only after they've had a full-scale company buy-in into the software Make no mistake, this process often requires a great deal of time and energy.

For example, EchoSign Co-Founder Jason Lemkin warns that, in much larger companies, the Year 1 adoption rate by Salesforce users is often very low, recalling that a number of customes he signed on did not even start "rolling out Salesforce in full force until Year 2 or even later after purchase."

And even once they do begin buying in, says Accenture, only 31 percent of Salesforce companies reported user adoption of 90 percent.

The Bottom Line: 70 percent of Salesforce companies have room for improvement. How to jumpstart that improvement? I'm glad you asked.

Step 1. Start by asking yourself these four questions:

  • Has your sales team fully adopted the CRM?
  • Have you created an intuitive layout that increases workflow efficiency?
  • Are you using Apps to add additional value to your users?
  • Are you consistently sourcing feedback on user experience from your team members?

Step 2. Pay attention to the notable field expert I've brought onto the Blog to help lead you in the right dirction and explain why you should answer every question in Step 1 with a resounding "Yes." 

Improving Salesforce Performance with Salesforce Ben

salesforce ben

Ben McCarthy -- or as he's better known these days -- Salesforce Ben has spent the past two years making a name for himself in the CRM industry by guiding user adoption and general optimization of Salesforce in some of the company's most prominent clientele.

And by launching a blog where he's recast himself as Salesforce Ben -- a guy with all the answers to getting the most out of the CRM.

Need a quick reference for troubleshooting or improving an aspect of Salesforce? McCarthy's Salesforce Ben blog offers substantive, filler-free insights on the most critical components of Salesforce usage.

Ben has achieved rapid growth in notoriety through popular posts such like his 5 Killer Salesforce User Tips and Solutions for Mapping Lead Route Types. He also frequently links to his posts in the Salesforce Solutions & Tips Linkedin Group. And now, he's joined the Ambition blog for a day to further share his wisdom.

1. What is the background behind "Salesforce Ben?" 

After graduating from Cardiff University in Information Systems, I was looking for a position that utilized both the technical and business aspects from my degree. Salesforce was perfect!

Since starting life in the Salesforce world as a Consultant, I have worked as an Administrator, Business Analyst and also still do some Freelance consulting on the side.

I started the Salesforce Ben blog as a way to note interesting solutions and Salesforce “hacks” that I come across in day-to-day life.

When implementing a solution, I like to do as much research as possible and occasionally there are some gaps of knowledge, which is where I like to come in and fill!

2. Describe a few key issues SFDC customers have.

Data Integrity is a big one. A lot of companies don’t take this into account when first setting up Salesforce. While it shouldn’t be a “must have” in an initial implementation, it should at least be considered.

Salesforce provides an excellent platform to implement validation techniques using validation rules and various Apps from the App Exchange. Most prominent among these are DupeCatcher and address validation Apps.

Looking at these kind of options early saves you tons of manhours when you, for example, arrive at the realisation: An entire years worth of data needs to be cleansed.

Workflow rules are also a great way to update certain fields that some users may forget. These rules further ensure your data is accurate, so for example: When an opportunity is closed, update the Account type to Customer! 

3. How would you encourage a skeptic to embrace Salesforce? 

In Organisations where users are barely scratching the surface at what Salesforce is capable of, it is usually because they have not been demonstrated the CRM's proper value.

In my experience as a user of Salesforce as well as an Administrator, I just couldn’t live without features such as list views and reports. If I was suddenly placed back into an archaic system, I wouldn’t be able to function!

I find the best thing to do is go back to basics and relate the things that I personally find so intuitive about Salesforce to the users.

Once actual value, time-saving ability, and productivity enhancement has been demonstrated, then hopefully the skeptic will start to utilize Salesforce! 

4. How important are Apps to the Salesforce experience? 

In a word: vital. Though there are very narrow instances where I don’t think an App would provide more functionality for a business.

Using Salesforce without Apps is similar to buying an iPhone or Andriod and not using the App/Google Play Store. You are just restricting yourself on functionality and potentially costing your a huge amount of time-saving.

Salesforce provides an excellent platform for developers to create imaginative and innovative Apps, and it’s always worth having a browse to see what’s being offered.

Similar to the App Store on a smartphones, there are options for both Free and Paid Apps, and I recommend checking the App Exchange once a week just to see if there are any emergent Apps that are coming into the limelight.

5. How can you tell if an App is a good fit?

I think testing an App requires a few different phases.

  1. First of all, the Administrators need to give it a test drive to see if it works as advertised and can be implemented simply.
  2. The next stage would be to demonstrate it to some key stakeholders or Salesforce power users to get buy in and support from them.
  3. The final stage would be to actually test run the app with a group of users to see if it can actually work in practise.

Obviously this is a very high-level view of testing a user-focused app, but the great thing about Salesforce is that there are also many Administrator-focused Apps that can be tested without anyone ever knowing about it!

Improve Salesforce Adoption & Performance

Listening to McCarthy and similar field experts, successful optimization of the Salesforce CRM requires a primary focus on user experience. McCarthy has directly stated that the overriding reason for failed CRM implementation is a failure to involve end users. Our recommendations for improving user experience:

  1. Customize Salesforce through processes that maximize user involvement.
  2. Test run Apps and adopt the ones that your users embrace the most.
  3. Constantly seek to improve intuitiveness of use and value to the user. 

Deep thanks to Salesforce Ben for appearing on our blog, and for all the helpful insights that he gives to Salesforce users. If you're struggling with Salesforce.com adoption, data visibility, or accountability, check out Ambition on the AppExchange

Supercharge Salesforce Activity and Analytics 

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