10 Steps to Sales Software Adoption

Blog Post created by jarrett.obrien on Mar 11, 2013

There have been many studies on the adoption of sales software, and for good reason.  Adoption is the foundation of any software ROI, and also the single largest reason billions of dollars are wasted.  Over the last 10 years somewhere between of 30-70% of CRM projects failed, depending on the definition of how badly.  If led by IT, 70% of companies will fail at social initiatives according to Gartner.  I have never met a sales or marketing leader that said they had a fully adopted CMS system (i.e., studies on SharePoint have shown an average only 40% user adoption). And, the scary reality is that the most widely-used sales tool is still a 40-year-old piece of technology: email.


Why have these tools failed to gain adoption?  Sales people don't care about software or the next 3 letter  acronym, they care about what software does for the number, size, and speed of deals.  When you look at these systems, there are some fundamental challenges  that explain the adoption issues.


10 Reasons Sellers Dont Adopt Software.jpeg.jpg

  • CRM: Customer Relationship Management was never really created for front line sellers, as the primary benefactor is management for inspection and forecasting.  Most sellers view CRM as a historical accounting tool and administrative burden.
  • CMS: Content Management Systems were typically developed for corporate project teams to create content, not access or use it.  They are overly complicated and not based on a selling situation.
  • LMS: Learning Management Systems were "just in case you ever needed to know everything" instead of just in time experiential learning. Due to the lag and cost of  creating content, most LMS modules are also out of sync with the latest market changes.
  • Portals: Portals are still largely static repositories and one directional.  Many are built on 10 year old technology and the sales tab was thrown in without use cases.
  • Social: Social is relatively new to sales and has popped up on pockets in sales organizations.  It can also be rolled out generically, or only used externally to acquire new leads / contact data.


With CRM some clients have tried to mandate adoption as a stipulation of employment (much like IT used to  with devices), however this  causes minimum, low quality interaction and input.  When combined with CRM systems, processes, and mobile devices, social presents one of the first sales solutions focused on end user value. However, social, communication, and collaboration tools cannot just be mandated.  There are a number of ways Jive customers drive extremely high levels of adoption from their sales teams and serve as a great example to be learned from.


Ten of the more critical ways our clients drive adoption are:

  1. Have Deep Use Cases.  Harvest and verify them with sales teams, and for each use case create high-level benefit statements and specific ones for each audience.
  2. Create a Plan. Treat internal sales deployments like external marketing campaigns.  Brand your roll-out and create grass roots campaigns, influencers, etc.
  3. Get Sales Talking.  And make sure it's at every level:
    • Executives need to have bought into social and contribute content in order to create the culture. Video blogs are a great way to accomplish this.
    • Sales Leadership groups can also secretly collaborate and then share monthly best practices or have regional groups.
    • Have a sales mentoring program to incent top reps to share with newbies and cross-pollinate best practices.
  4. Seed the Field. Plant new content and shut down locations outside of your new system where they could access old content.  Don’t have content?  Ask questions about the topics and see what sellers say.   Have ideation jams if you need more sales materials.
  5. Raise the Barn. Have in person and virtual events and let sales submit content, whittle it down to those that match the messaging you want.  Like, rate, and create polls to vote on top content.
  6. Record Everything. Any new live event, QBR, sales call, etc. start videotaping or recording, and serve them up as a series for those who couldn’t make it.
  7. Add Value to Existing Systems (Office, CRM, CMS, LMS, Web Sites, etc).  Sellers have already adopted other tools, and make sure you are integrated with all of them.  As an example, you could turn email threads into deal room discussions presented right next to CRM Opportunity data.
  8. Access on the Road. In the world we live in you need to have access from any mobile device or tablet.  Give them the ability to create content, ask questions, present pitches, and accelerate the deal, online or off.
  9. Make it Fun.  Use gamification and have contests, set missions, and give rewards.  However, gamification can’t just be points for contribution, it needs to be specifically rewarding the sales behaviors you are trying to drive.
  10. Experience is Everything. If it isn’t as easy to use or slicker than the tools sellers know and love at home, don’t roll it out.  Make sure to test every tool before deploying and don't trust that a good looking screenshot means a great user experience.


Do you have other ways that you have rolled out software to sales with high adoption rates?  I'd love to hear how you are gaining sales adoption.  Also, please join us for a webcast with Gartner and Good Technology on 3 Keys to Unlocking Sales Productivity with Social on March 26th. Register here.


You can also find this information on SlideShare here.