It’s Not Salesforce; It’s the Build.

Aaron Godby, CEO & Founder

Salesforce is an amazing piece of technology. You don’t need me to tell you that; simply look at the business results, read the analyst reports, or look at their stock ticker (CRM). Their product managers, architects, and engineers have built a product that is truly special. Despite the advantages the software brings to the table, customers occasionally feel like they aren’t getting value out of the software and are left wondering what all of the hoopla is about. This blog examines why.

Common Factors

Let’s start by examining the commonalities that exist within these unsuccessful rollouts. When I speak to customers who aren’t happy with the software, several issues are almost always present:

  • Low user adoption
  • Inconsistent usage patterns amongst users
  • Lack of data consistency
  • Minimal amount of customization to out-of-the-box software to fit business needs
  • Little to no automation of common user tasks
  • User complaints of “one more thing to fill out”
  • Mismatches between desired business workflow and software workflow

These are all symptoms of the same problem: the software is only as good as the build. Salesforce is a world-class SaaS platform for running your business, but using it in out-of-the-box form severely limits its value to your business. This situation is analogous to buying a great house and then not furnishing it; the structure is of the same quality as your neighbors’ houses, but your value as a resident is severely limited by not having a couch, bed, TV, and refrigerator. Much like the house, Salesforce’s architects and builders designed it so that it could be easily furnished to meet your unique needs after purchase.

There’s an easy answer to this problem, and fortunately the answer isn’t anything complex or overly sophisticated: use Salesforce as it was designed. Follow our simple guidelines below and you’ll be realizing value from your investment in no time.

Old Habits Die Hard

Cultural adoption of a new piece of software is a tricky subject. Users, especially those who have been at a company for a long time, have internal processes that they follow to accomplish their daily tasks. Adoption of a new software tool means that these internal processes have to be altered, and altering an ingrained habit is something that is difficult to do.

I’ve seen many companies who simply mandate data entry into the new tool in a memo, declare mission accomplished, and move on to the next initiative. With minimal training in the new software nor incentive to use it, many employees stick to their old ways and retrofit the software into their internal processes. This behavior results in every Salesforce user using the tool differently, which causes inconsistent data, loss of productivity, and perpetuates the stigma that the software is a burden rather than a benefit. After all, how could the software be anything but a burden if a user is still following a manual process and the only difference is that he or she has added the extra step of entering data into the new system?

The old saying “the carrot is better than the stick” applies heavily to user adoption of new software. Dictating that users use the new software and enforcing the new policy can certainly increase your usage numbers, but are these users working in the tool at maximum effectiveness or are they simply trying to keep their names off of the naughty list? Solve the cultural adoption problem effectively with a two-pronged approach:

  1. Make your users want to use the tool.
  2. Configure the tool to dictate your process.

Make Salesforce a Fan Favorite

Every organization has small, pet-peeve types of problems that are the target of employee complaints. Maybe there’s a document that everyone hates filling out (think of the TPS reports in Mike Judge’s 1999 cult classic, Office Space), customer signatures that take forever to collect, or some other tedious task that requires hours of manual effort per week to complete. Make it a point to target at least one of these problems during your first Salesforce rollout.

Announcing that the new software solves a common headache does a few things:

  1. It gets employees excited.
  2. It puts Salesforce in the position of hero rather than nuisance.
  3. It shows the company is listening to employee feedback.
  4. It provides a reward for using the tool.
  5. It eliminates complaining about the pet peeve problem.

Tackling a problem like this one and solving it with Salesforce keeps your users more engaged throughout the learning process and rewards them for working hard to learn new software that may do things much differently than they’re used to within their internal process.

Dictate Your Organizational Process

Many of the customers I talk to who struggle with the symptoms of not having a tailor-made Salesforce environment have organizational processes that run through the Salesforce platform. They spend time documenting how the software should be used and teaching the users how to use the software to drive the process with the expectation that after this training, the users will use Salesforce as intended by the company.

This approach doesn’t always pan out, and there’s a much better way. When the system is configured properly to define the process, most of your process enforcement can simply become “use Salesforce.” The solution is designed to validate data going in and drive automation behind the scenes to step users through a workflow. By customizing it to fit your process to a t, many of the more mundane procedural elements can happen behind the scenes. The most successful companies at using Salesforce have users who use it to drive almost all of their daily tasks, and all of these organizations have invested in customizing the software to fit the way their organizations do business.

By designing the software to drive your process, you simplify your users’ day-to-day roles, reduce confusion, eliminate data inconsistency, and drive user adoption.

The Bottom Line

Much like you wouldn’t get full value out of a house with no furniture, you won’t get full value out of a Salesforce environment that is not purpose-built to your exact specifications. By making the investment in building the tool to solve problems within your organization and drive your organization’s processes, you’re positioning both your users and your executive team for success.

If the software can make the user’s life easier, the user will use the software. And if the software dictates the organizational process, the process will be followed regardless of which user is using the software. These two things alone solve every symptom of the user adoption problem that we started with in this article and put your executive team in position to leverage all of the data you’re now collecting with the platform to make better, more informed business decisions.

Need help designing your Salesforce org, or have a Salesforce-related question? Contact us today and take the first step in your organization’s Salesforce evolution.