A member of our client services team recently told me a story about a three-pronged project that I thought was worth sharing. Each portion of this project involved a build for a different team within a single organization, and each team was led by a different VP. These three VPs had very different strategies for encouraging Salesforce adoption.

The first made it clear to her team that Salesforce was the way of the future. She began using it in meetings and decided on a firm adoption policy: After a certain date, any information not entered in the platform would be treated as if it didn’t exist.

The second VP took the opposite approach. He was hard to get in meetings that discussed Salesforce and clearly didn’t understand the value that the CRM would bring to his team. No surprise, then, that he didn’t take the time to communicate that value.

The third stood somewhere in the middle. She showed some excitement and encouraged her team to explore Salesforce, but didn’t develop a hard-line adoption date.

Which VP do you think was the most successful?

It was the first — and there wasn’t a close runner-up.

Breaking the cycle of poor Salesforce adoption

What does this story tell us? That leadership buy-in is a crucial element in widespread Salesforce adoption. It makes sense, right? If the boss doesn’t want to use it, why would anyone else?

Our team has found that poor user adoption is often the result of an unhealthy cycle. When a leader doesn’t encourage their team to use Salesforce — well, the team doesn’t use it. In turn, the lack of good data in the platform gives an uninterested leader even less incentive to log in.

It’s on leadership to break this cycle — and mere encouragement isn’t enough. If it were, VP #3’s team would have had more adoption success. Leaders need to use Salesforce diligently, and those on their teams need to see that use on a consistent basis.

Stop with the spreadsheets

There are any number of reasons a particular leader might not take to Salesforce. Maybe their leaders haven’t made its value clear. Maybe they haven’t received or sought out the proper training. One of the most common reasons our team sees, though, is an unwillingness to let go of spreadsheets. 

The numbers suggest that this is a widespread problem: 68% of sales professionals know the importance of a single, cross-departmental view of a customer. And yet, 40% still use informal, siloed methods like spreadsheets to store lead and customer data.

We understand: Making a major workflow change takes some effort. When you’re always busy, it’s easy to slide back into old habits. You hit a time crunch, and so you enter something into a spreadsheet. It’s just easier — and you won’t do it again. But you do. And then again. Pretty soon, Salesforce isn’t up to date, making it all but impossible to adopt.

If you find yourself in this position, don’t give up. Work with your team until the data looks right. Make the effort. Then, once Salesforce is finally working for you, don’t stop using it! Use it in meetings. Use it until you become an expert. Make it obvious: Salesforce is your source of truth.

As your team notices your newfound commitment to the tool, they’ll feel an urgency to use it properly, too. Which in turn will increase the quality of the data you’re working with. It’s a win-win.

Looking for other ways to drive Salesforce adoption? Watch the video from our most popular webinar on the topic:

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