Why Your Sales Team Doesn't Like Salesforce (Stop Blaming Salesforce)

Technology is not the dealbreaker... Learn what challenges most often cripple CRM deployments and how to solve them.

John E. Kosar, III

Why Your Sales Team Doesn’t Like Salesforce (Stop Blaming Salesforce)


One of the most persistent challenges across all Salesforce implementations, or at least the most talked about, is user adoption. Account executives “hate” Salesforce because it makes their job harder and more onerous – to such an extent that they continue to bolt on their own solutions than use a business solution.


Blame goes to Salesforce for being incompetent, overly complicated. Instead of user friendly it is user-defiant. If you have to open five different windows for every step, how does that make anyone more effective?


But however it might look, the problem is most likely not the software. According to Gartner, an organization with 24 CRM analysts alone, CRM vendor has little correlation with success. It does not matter whether you use Salesforce, or Oracle, or IBM, Adobe, or SugarCRM, the vendor is probably adequate; the likelihood of success is far more dependent on how the CRM is implemented. The largest obstacles to success were found to be (in order):


1.     Lack of clearly defined CRM strategy

2.     Politics

3.     Lack of CRM vision

4.     Cultural resistance to change

5.     Lack of a single view of the customer

6.     …


Appropriate technology deployment is number nine on the list. Our experience corroborates this statistic. Whether at the enterprise level or in mid-market, the core problem is not the software, it is the lack of fundamentals for a CRM project, really important but often overlooked stuff, like CRM mission, vision, and most important of all, making sure all the stakeholders are involved in the planning stage.


Gartner and other organizations talk a lot about CRM Vision and Mission and voice of customer, but they can miss the white elephant, the account executive. Everyone tends to take it for granted that a CRM will help account executives do their job, but if that is the case, why is user adoption such a big issue?


Right up there with voice of customer, CRM projects need to prioritize the voice of account executive. Technology is changing the way buyers want to do business; it is also changing the way sellers want to sell. By making the sale easier and more convenient to execute, you increase productivity and also win employee morale.


Incentivize User Adoption by Deploying the Right Sales Enablement Tools

Why should we expect account executives to switch from spreadsheets to Salesforce? “Because we will make them” is only moderately effective. “Because Salesforce tracks data more effectively” is a great answer for the CEO or CFO but does not entice account executives.


Incentivize adoption by delivering a sales enablement tool that will help them in value-driving activities. This means you will need to find the overlap between what account executives see as value and what other stakeholders perceive as value. The overlap in this Venn diagram is a sweet spot for your next Salesforce App integration.



We have used this recipe successfully. As an example, one of our clients, a make-to-order manufacturer, suffered from excessive quote times. This was a natural result of making complex, highly configurable products with large deal sizes.


The problem they identified, however, was Salesforce – and getting their account executives to use Salesforce. No one was using Salesforce. No one. But everyone was accustomed to the onerous quoting process; buyers understood and accepted the long quoting period; sellers knew this was part of their job description; executives knew extensive quoting times as a part of the business environment.


By implementing a Configure Price Quote (CPQ) tool, the company lifted user adoption to 75% while reducing sales administration and improving the customer journey. Time-to-quote was decimated. Each stakeholder walked away with a lot of value, which is the way that CRMs succeed.


Change is difficult, and an organization can only “force” its employees to do so much. There needs to be real incentive for everyone.


Account Executives use Salesforce for Sales Enablement Tools, not for Salesforce

Salesforce’s primary advantage and differentiator is the AppExchange, a platform containing roughly 3,000 apps. The largest challenge is knowing which tools to use and creating a process for integrating those tools and systematically improving the return.


Having a CRM strategy and vision helps guide those decisions, understanding what value the company wants to drive and who stands to benefit.


But the vision needs to extend across all stakeholders. The number one goal for CRM projects is growth. This is because growth is the one thing all business heads can agree on. And yet, this goal does not benefit buyers and sellers. CRM vision needs to see outside of itself in order to succeed, its vision encompassing buyers and sellers.


What are the constraints on your interactions with buyers? What do your customers value? Do they want to save time? Do they need to be better informed about your products/services or how to use them to the greatest benefit? What about sellers? Where do account executives need help?


These questions are not the only important questions to ask, but they will help to design a truly holistic solution, one that everyone wants to participate in, one that everyone is willing to change for.


Reflecting on this, I cannot help but marvel at the irony in technology as the driving force behind such a human transition, a coming-of-age for business, motivating charitable consideration.


Of course, true altruism has no selfish gain, supposedly, and CRM success clearly delivers selfish gain. But experiencing the benefits of “altruistic” acts, I think we can all see how similar these growth trajectories really are.

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