By Steve Cooper

In an ideal world, the level of enthusiasm your Salesforce implementation team felt about implementing the solution would be shared broadly throughout your whole organization. In our role as implementers of Salesforce, we find it’s often the case that as soon as one implementation is done, somebody else in the organization is chomping at the bit for their chance to get Salesforce. When that’s true, it’s more commonly the result of a deliberate effort and a plan than random happenstance. If you’re reading this before you implement Salesforce, talk to your friendly neighborhood Account Executive about what your goals are for implementing Salesforce organization-wide and how you can build up the hype and have an easier time later.

Since we do not live in an ideal world, we sometimes find that after an organization has spent a lot of time and energy implementing Salesforce, only a handful of people who are its intended audience actually want to use it. It’s always unfortunate when there is internal resistance to a great new solution that will help the organization run more efficiently and grow faster, but there are valid reasons why people are reluctant to adopt Salesforce. In some situations, people have a system that they already know and like well enough, and they may not know how Salesforce can help them in their day-to-day work. In situations where Salesforce is a more transparent system than what it replaced, which is often the case when organizations are moving from a collection of spreadsheets into a CRM, sometimes users can fear the eye of a nefarious “Big Brother” looming over them, watching all that they do. Other times, people just don’t like change. If someone has used the same fundraising database for 20 years, getting them to switch is a big ask.

Here are some tips that may help to guide you while you are trying to build up buy-in and excitement, while also making sure that the system you invested in gets used.

Figure out the carrots

No matter how loudly or frequently leadership demands that staff use Salesforce, people will only genuinely want to use it if it helps them in their day to day work. Start your engagement plan by figuring out what carrots Salesforce can offer your staff to help them streamline their workflow. Will task management help them get their calendar under control? Will Chatter help them work out of their inbox less? Will reporting give them insight that they didn’t have before, letting them perform better than they have historically with a wealth of information at their fingertips? Can Engagement Plans help to steward your fundraisers toward success with less manual effort?

It’s likely that the Salesforce staff enthusiasts will need to spend some extra training reluctant staff on how to best take advantage of the system, so plan sessions and exercises that make Salesforce fun.

Figure out the sticks

While carrots are much nicer and more effective than sticks in encouraging user adoption, it’s very important that expectations for system use are clear and unambiguous. If Salesforce is going to be your organization’s database of record and single source of truth, the organization’s staff needs to know that with absolute clarity, and they need to know what the consequences of failing to feed back into that organizational memory are. Lean on the good things about the system first—offer those carrots!—but make sure you’re clear that using the tool is not a valid option.

A common and very effective approach is the system is to adopt a “if it isn’t in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist” philosophy. When you meet with staff to discuss their work, use Salesforce data and only Salesforce data to inform your discussion. If a fundraiser is working on cultivating a major gift, pull up that open opportunity record in Salesforce during your discussion. If it’s there, great! Encourage them to record next steps using Activities and to update the Stage value to reflect their progress. If it isn’t there, the organization doesn’t know about it, and thus the reluctant staffer is hard pressed to explain the value they add to the organization.

Give staff a voice

When staff feel like they can influence the way the system works, they will be much more likely to want to take advantage of it. To that end, and to plan for the future growth of the tool, it’s often a good idea to form a governance committee to plan, test, and execute changes to the system. Publicly praise people who present good ideas to encourage others to submit them. If someone has a great idea that they would like to see implemented in Salesforce, leverage the committee to solicit feedback, test the idea, and plan its roll-out. Unleashing untested, unplanned, and unannounced changes on your users is a surefire way to make them feel like they can’t depend on the system.

Trust but verify

It’s very possible to validate how often users are logging into the system by looking at their User record as an administrator. You can also see who is creating and modifying data by reporting on the Created By and Last Modified By fields on any object in Salesforce. If your users are saying that they’re taking advantage of the system but that doesn’t seem to line up, get some data to back up your hunch and then ask them why they aren’t using the system.

Call your friendly neighborhood consultant

If the tips above don’t help out right away or you think your problems might need a closer look, it may be time to call your friendly neighborhood consultancy. We can structure a project to evaluate why users aren’t taking to the system and put together a plan to increase adoption. External consultants can give the system a hard, objective look, and we can often get feedback from users that they aren’t willing to provide to people who they will be working with for the foreseeable future. Reach out to your Cloud for Good Account Executive today to help you increase your Salesforce user adoption.

Start taking advantage of your investment in Salesforce today!

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Steve Cooper

Steve Cooper