How to Diagnose Your Salesforce Adoption Issues

Posted by Greg DeVore


The most common concern I hear when I talk to existing Salesforce customers is "lack of use"---available Salesforce licenses are just sitting around unused, even though the organization has already purchased them.

Does that sound familiar?

Did you (or someone you know) purchase Salesforce, follow the rollout guide, and do all of the recommended training sessions only to have your team avoid using it? Have you resorted to pleading, and maybe even "mandating" its use?

Letting licenses sit around unused is not only a waste of money, but it also means you're probably not getting any of the productivity gains you had hoped for when you adopted Salesfoce. It is a double hit to the gut---a big expense and no productivity gain.

So, the question is - why isn't your team using Salesforce?

Probable causes

You may be tempted to say, “My team is just too lazy/set in their ways to learn Salesforce.” But don't jump to that conclusion right away---if you are having adoption issues, it is more likely being caused by one of these factors:

  1. No benefit to them - There is negative or no benefit to the team members for using Salesforce
  2. Disruptive change - They are comfortable with their existing workflow and adopting Salesforce would “disrupt” that workflow
  3. Unclear path - It isn’t clear to them how to get done what they need to in Salesforce... so they avoid it.

You may have all three issues or just one. But having any of them will de-rail your adoption efforts.

How to diagnose your adoptions issues

So how do you diagnose your issues? Here are three simple approaches.

1. Do they realize the benefit?

Assuming the technical implementation went according to plan, Salesforce will help you stay organized and make it easy to access lots of great data. When your team uses Salesforce, they will basically be collecting data about your customers, prospects, and anything else you decided to track (such as inventory, product usage, etc.).

Ask the team members how using Salesforce and having that data helps them do their job better. If they don’t have a good answer, then they don’t understand the benefits of Salesforce. 

2. Does it disrupt their workflow?

Ask your team members, "How much does using Salesforce slow you down each day?" That sounds like a loaded question, but you will get a better response if you assume that the change has been difficult (because in almost everyone’s minds, change seems hard whether or not it actually is).

Here are some responses you might hear:

  1. "It doesn't slow me down at all." 
  2. "It slows me down a lot."
  3. "I have no idea."

It doesn't slow me down at all: You are golden. "Disrupting their workflow" is not causing adoption issues. In fact, if people answer this way then you probably don't have adoptions issues at all. 

It slows me down a lot: If you get this response you need to sit down with the team member and look at the old workflow vs. the new worklfow in Salesforce. Try to really understand if Salesforce is really slowing them down or if it is simply that they don't understand how to use Salesforce. Depending on what you find you either need to give them clearer instructions (see #3 below) or rework your workflows in Salesforce.

I have no idea: They haven't even really tried Salesforce yet. You need to give them some clear instructions to help them get started (see #3 below).

3. Do they understand the path?

More often than not, people are resistant to Salesforce because they don't understand the new paths or workflows. It's easier to stick to what they know than to venture off into a strange new application without a guide.

To determine whether this is an issue, ask one of your team members two questions:

  1. "How would you complete 'task A' in Salesforce?"
  2. "How would you learn to complete 'task A' in Salesforce?"
If they don't know how to complete "task A," then they do not understand the path. And if they don't know how they would learn how to complete "task A," then you haven’t provided clear resources to help them understand the path.

Summing up

If you start trying to solve your adoption issues before you nail down the root causes, you are going to be grasping at straws for solutions. But if you can diagnose the causes, you can work to systematically address and resolve each issue.

Question for you

What has been your experience? Have you seen other causes of poor Salesforce adoption? If so, list them in the comments.

In the next few posts we will talk about how to address each cause. Be sure to subscribe to our blog so that you get the new articles as soon as they are available.

Download our eBook: Training and Onboarding  Salesforce Users in your Nonprofit

Topics: Salesforce adoption