Successful Salesforce Adoption: 10 Best Practices of CRM Implementation

By March 1, 2016Sales, Sales Management
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As Y-axis, a new-age immigration and travel services company  goes on to its 8th year of using salesforce.com, there are many lessons learnt and worth sharing on how salesforce added to its success. Here we interviewed Xavier Augustin, CEO of Y-Axis.com to share some of his insights on user adoption journey as one of the early adopters of salesforce in India.

With 150 users transitioning from using outdated systems to Salesforce almost instantly, User Adoption of Salesforce.com (and for that matter any CRM or software) was a challenge to deal with head on. Led by Xavier, his capable team put together industry knowledge, deep understanding of its employee behaviour and visionary thinking to achieve 99% salesforce adoption within the 1st month of usage.

And this is the story they continue to polish with same results as Y-Axis grows  to 600 over users on salesforce.com. Following lessons can be applied to most businesses and scenarios to drive similar results.

Rule #1 – Go for 100% MakeOver

“Everyone, Every time, Everything!”

From the very beginning, Y-Axis team decided to put all their chips in one basket. Backed by their gut, they believed that everyone must speak a common ‘technology language’ at work. So instead of going with cautious (or even skeptical) approach, it was decided all employee, all departments and all processes will be migrated to a powerful workflow based CRM like Salesforce.

Quoting an example of a Swedish city that witnessed chaos when it made a switchover from left to the right side driving, Xavier claims half-hearted decisions cost a lot more than trusting gut and going big.

“Everyone in the company must use Salesforce.com for every transaction, every time, every day.” – Xavier Augustin

Rule #2 – Maintain continuity

“From Start to Finish”

Y-Axis uses salesforce.com from the front office (receptionist) to the delivery team who dispatches papers and records transactions on salesforce. There are no disconnects in the process from “start to finish” and any activity trail or responsibility does not leave salesforce.com.

It was a core, well-deliberated decision to move entire thread of transaction from initial customer contact to last on salesforce.com, even though it meant adding a non-sales user on CRM software. That removed the scope of information missing out in translation from Salesforce to other systems and back.

“We can track each activity, sales or internal audit related, in the value chain on salesforce, with ease”

Rule #3 – One Database – One Truth

“All eggs in one basket”

The decisions leading to above 2 lessons also meant another pivotal decision to have all vital data – current & historical in one central location, that is on salesforce.com. The team had a foresight that not doing so will cause its users to desperately search data in different systems and hence affect productivity.

“Making sure there is one central source of truth (for data) that you trust, it is the single most important  productivity hack”

Rule #4 – Badge In or Log in

“Be present on Salesforce”

Logging into salesforce.com one simple activity that defined being present or absent from work. Working with demanding customer deadlines, Y-Axis depends on minimum hourly productivity to produce results. The team benefited from the ability to track log-in times on salesforce to ensure attendance and punctuality. And hence, tackle productivity from one dimension.

Since Salesforce had to be defined as a core functional system for results, employees were required to log in no later than 15 minutes from entry into the office. The expectation was clearly set. The performance is measured on weekly reports and dashboards. And defaulters and incongruent behaviors are dealt with in performance meetings.

Though Y-Axis team used a ‘stick’ method by imposing fines for the late entry, having clearly set expectations ensured that after a week of such system there were no fines imposed.

Rule #5 – Login & Activity

“Pugmarks of customer oriented service”

Ensuring login punctuality was is one part of the equation. Ensuring right behaviors and value attached to the behavior being measured on salesforce is the other. For this, all users of Y-Axis were given a clear set of responsibilities, corresponding activities and its impact on Salesforce system usage.

The implementation team ensured all go-to systems for daily activities were connected. In this case, Outlook, salesforce.com and calling systems. It was easy to log activities, and even easier to get trained. This was supplemented by an implementation team member assuming the responsibility for maintaining an audit check on the activity report on daily basis.

Rule #6 – Carrot & Stick

“What a fine system”?

Making salesforce.com as a system that is indispensable, easy and effective took the majority of the time when implementation team met together. Incenting people to use it was one way to ensure adoption was high. That was the carrot. However, you can always expect some rebels.

“And when the system is fool proof, nobody messes with it. Since violation is easily traced, penalties can be levied.”

Y-Axis recommends a combination of daily audits, penalties to ensure defaulters use the system.
To manage a team of 600 people on core customer management system could take a full-time employee to do so. And its importance cannot be overplayed.

Of course, all this is made easy with advanced reporting by Salesforce’s user adoption reporting analytics.

Rule #7 – The Scoreboard & Buzz

“Keep the score!”

“What’s a game without a scoreboard?” I mean you could watch the exciting game of soccer all day long but what’s the fun without a scoreboard. Perhaps if there were no scoreboard, teams won’t be as motivated to play. And no wonder, all professional sports networks spend tonnes of money making their scoreboards look jazzy and appealing.

Similarly, at Y-Axis the team uses dashboards to create the much-needed buzz for business and internal motivation. The principles for “jazziness” are simple – transparency, relevance, urgency.

All employees track commissions transparently on Salesforce. And these commissions, without any surprise, are tied to activities also measured on Salesforce. All commissions earned by employees for the month, week or even day are visible on the real-time basis and serve as a good motivator.

“To make the dashboard tick in your favor, you have to use salesforce”.

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Rule #8 – Let it sell itself

“Proof is in the Pudding”

Again, with ease of use, effectiveness and relevance as the focus, the Salesforce implementation team won the major battle. The Carrot and the Stick tactic was the other one. However, once the early adopters see that benefits of Salesforce help them execute better, they become your partners in spreading best usage practices in their teams.

The teams were divided into 3 major user groups- Sales, Process and Case managers. Each team leaders were convinced of benefits of using Salesforce effectively. These translated to either saving time in doing tasks that were mundane or being faster in achieving their goals. Once they got it, their team members followed their footsteps.

“A well implemented, executed and monitored salesforce will sell itself to every user within 10 days” – Xavier Augustin

Rule #9 – Salesforce Democracy drives real change

“By the users, for the users and from the users.“

Salesforce implementation and training program involved managers at all levels to participate, contribute, execute and monitor performance on Salesforce.com. It was not just the top management pulling strings.

Empowerment of the middle managers in the roll-out process gave them the incentive to collect feedback from all users to make the system work for them. As a result, the software is more tailored to our business needs.

Users built it, they understand it and hence they adopt it!

Rule #10 – Management Reporting

“The world in my oyster”

As someone building a legacy of Y-Axis, Xavier (and his partner) were the only caretakers of Y-Axis uniqueness, its processes and security. They understood that with Salesforce.com, the business got more defined, protected and secured from any mishaps.

In order to run a business that is expanding at a stellar rate, it would be impossible to function without a management dashboard, the one that gives tell-tale signs on what is working and what is not. The management team at Y-Axis is the biggest believer of salesforce and hence can drive decisions to make it more effective at grass-root level by looking at its dashboards.

These 10 golden rules for user adoption are tool independent and behavior driven. These could be applied to any software or any system changes that necessitate deliberating over user adoption challenges as part of a success plan. Within Salesforce world, since Y-Axis started using it  there have been remarkable additions to user-adoption stories. Having an effective training plan using tools like Walk-me certainly go a long way to ensuring the best adoption tactics.

However, the success of user adoption program for any IT system is based on deeply understanding user behavior, and especially that of your own employees.

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by Xavier Augustin

Xavier is the CEO of Y-Axis and one of the early adopters of salesforce.com for his entire organisation. 450 people from various departments and teams use salesforce for mission critical processes.