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09 Sep 2014

7 Secrets To Drive Salesforce Adoption

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Implementing is not a start and stop project—it’s an ongoing journey for your entire organization. You must continuously educate your staff on Salesforce’s capabilities and iterate on your instance to find the right dynamic and functionalities for your company. 

At Dreamforce last year, hundreds of attendees got out of the rain to attend the session, “Grow Your Business - Best Practices to Drive Adoption and Success,” offering tips & tricks to help drive business value from Salesforce investments. The session highlighted the journey that many organizations go through to when switching technologies. At XCG, we say that there should be a 2:1 investment in your people, compared to technology. A new technology is ineffective if your employees don’t understand how to use it, or more importantly, unaware how this new technology will simplify their daily activities. 

But even before go-live, you must prepare your organization for the changes and new processes that are set to affect all employees. Consider your organization's current business process including the alignment or misalignment between departments. Ask where the gaps are and how the processes can be streamlined. Be sure you have alignment and a consistent vision and goals between all departments involved. 

A global provider of enterprise content management, was suffering from poor user adoption and ineffective utilization of their current technologies. When the organization decided to move to Salesforce, The client needed a strong vision, an agreed upon plan with clear goals, and an end-to-end ongoing training and communication plan. The VP of Global Sales, experienced firsthand the difficulties of poor adoption in their legacy CRM system. 

With success criteria defined and goals in place, The client knew they could measure and track success. They were confident that he could focus on the adoption rates of all users. In addition, integrating the tools into one central portal was key. If the technologies were intuitive for the users and the tools were alas aligned and able to communicate with each other, employees would then truly accomplish one true view of the customer. 


There should be more prep to consider before go-live then any other time during a Salesforce deployment. The bulk of work should happen as you prep for go-live, to ensure that at the launch of the new functionalities, users are eager, ready and understand the reason for the change. Consider these adoption fundamentals before diving into Salesforce deployment: 

Organizational readiness

Are all departments involved in this change incorporated in the decision process and timeline planning, and have agreed upon the same goals and metrics to measure the success? It is key that all departments see the value this new tool will bring to their specific area of business. Solidify consistent goals and a clear vision that all departments agree too.

Stakeholder involvement

Are all executives, stakeholders, and decision makers aware of the changes, involved in the planning, and supporting the new system? Be sure to involve key stakeholders in the communication cadence—this publicizes executive alignment and endorsement. At the most basic level, arm executives with drafted content to use in internal communications to employees to emphasize their support of this change and maintain transparency. 

Measure and reward

Make sure you’ve agreed upon what Salesforce adoption looks like for your organization. Define the word adoption. Be realistic that your organization may not hit full adoption or success metrics at go-live, but instead it’s an iterative process to increase adoption and measure success. Set organizational, departmental, or even individual milestones and reward those who reach these metrics. Ensure adoption and support of the new system by calling out your ‘Champions,’ who led by example. 

Communication plan

Communication should be at the center of your implementation strategy. This is not a one time investment but instead something built into your business process, taking place before, during, and after deployment. Clear, consistent, and multi-channel communication must be core of an adoption strategy, presented in digestible segments.  

Training strategy

When introducing a new technology into a business, the value of this new system must be understood by all users. Each user must see how their daily tasks and roles will be simplified by the oncoming change. Customized Salesforce training for all end users is a great way to ensure buy-in and full adoption of the tool. Often, salespeople only care about contacts, accounts, and opportunities, whereas Marketing prioritizes campaign influence, lead status, and conversion rate of contacts. Sales and Marketing must have the same understanding of the system, and grasp why each other's goals are important. This mutual understanding can simply mean knowing what fields to fill out with various dropdown options.  


Once the technology is live, you will need a system to address user questions with consistent and definitive answers. You must communicate how to submit questions, bugs, and feedback to your internal team and communicate a realistic timeline to resolve these issues. When a user is first adjusting to a new system, it’s crucial to provide a smooth and flawless feedback mechanism to address any training or adoption issues. First impressions are powerful, prevent your users from becoming discouraged by addressing their feedback in a timely manner.

Continuous improvements

Salesforce is an ongoing journey. All innovative companies iterate their platform as their business changes, functionalities change, and users provide feedback. Encourage users to get involved in the new functionality rollout and encourage open discussion. Challenge your all-star users to get involved and be an extension of your communication strategy to the rest of the organization. Salesforce can’t be a siloed process, utilize all users to test drive the system, gain user feedback and make them part of the ongoing innovation. This collaboration will drive the strongest and most efficient Salesforce instance for your specific business needs. 

With these seven adoption fundamentals at the forefront of this clients Salesforce implementation strategy, they were able to lay out a one hundred day training and communication plan, leading up to a confident go-live. These 100 days of prep was a fun and exciting time for this client. They communicated often and in diverse ways to prepare all users for what was coming. Whether it was weekly trivia games, Q&A quizzes, or themed happy hours, the client made Salesforce a topic of conversation and focus for all employees. Tactical training included stakeholder interviews, multi-channel communication via Salesforce Chatter, email, call, posters, ongoing training, custom end user training, e-learning modules, admin training, and executive coaching. 

Our Client executed on a specific vision and achieved the following: 

  • One true source of data

  •  360 view of customer 

  •  Efficiency gained back into all users day 

  • Clean and clear pipeline view 

  •  Accurate reports & dashboards 

  •  Automation & mobility 

On the first day of their Salesforce go-live, This client saw all of their workforce (1,049 total employees) logged-in to Salesforce. This was a great start to their Salesforce journey. They have placed Salesforce in the center of their business and now incorporate the platform into their decision making process. Their organizational transformation and full adoption was a strategic maneuver, requiring a coordinated approach across multiple departments. 

Are you considering Salesforce and unclear of where to start? Or are you already live and things have gotten more complex than you first imaged?

Go-live of Salesforce is only the tip of the iceberg. Let XCG help you strategize around your business objectives and work with you to build a change management roadmap that will drive full user adoption and rapid business growth. 

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