Introducing new technology within any organization faces adoption challenges from the user community for a variety of reasons but a major barrier can be just the learning process of how to use the new technology without disrupting or destroying existing work flows.
Prior to 1868 there was no usable typewriter in existence and thus communication was hand written or using a printing press. In 1853, the record handwriting speed was 30 words per minute. Then the first practical typewriter was invented by Christopher Latham Sholes in 1868 which easily doubled the possible number of words per minute. Speeds of over 150 words per minute were possible. Wow, a 5x speed improvement!
Imagine standing there in 1868 with fountain pen in hand and your boss gesticulating about this fantastic new device called a “typewriter” that you now had to learn immediately and that written communication was now frowned upon! This was the new revolution in business communications. Your first thought was probably, “how in the world do you use this thing?” and the second thought was, “I will be spending all of my time learning this darn thing and not getting my work done!”
Similar challenges face any organization wishing to adopt a system like Salesforce.com to revolutionize their business and sales activities. Sales staff envision all the time they will need to spend learning the new system and thus view it skeptically. Sales management see the potential but are not altogether enthusiastic as their short-term sales quotas may be impacted.
In today’s world, no one would ever think of not using a typewriter for business communications and the same is becoming true of systems like Salesforce.
To help smooth the waters, here are the value propositions for adopting Salesforce within your organization that I have found pertinent:
The company’s sales contact information is an invaluable asset and thus it must be protected by housing it within an enterprise system that all sales, marketing and executive staff can access easily and swiftly to accomplish their work. Allowing sales staff to have their own sales database on their laptop is a sure way to lose that information completely when they leave the company.
Having sales staff input their opportunity and activity information provides transparency into what are my sales staff actually doing? Sales management need information on what is happening in order to be effective at helping to close deals and mentor their staff.
A central system like Salesforce delivers this transparency in all possible ways: opportunity activity, call logs, notes, email threads, account activity, payment history, invoices, documents, etc. Without such a system, management and sales staff are much less efficient as they are now required to call or email or talk in person to get updated and vital information.
In fact, relying on inefficient team updating methods is a sure way to keep your sales teams small and resist growth.
Knowledge sharing amongst sales staff and teams is a vital activity and the Salesforce Chatter collaboration tool allows for fast and direct knowledge sharing. The power of Chatter is that it can replace traditional email for sharing and collaborating in a much more efficient manner. Examples:
- Create a Chatter group around a particular project in order to share ideas and post status updates. This way everyone on the team is instantly kept informed without individual email threads being lost or not being CCed to important people.
- Create a private Chatter group for sensitive team or management information.
- Stop forwarding all those emails to “keep others informed” and use Chatter.
- Leverage Chatter to get your question answered quickly by someone in your team without getting duplicate answers (since everyone can see the reply to the question as soon as it is posted).
- Chatter is very easy to use with mobile and desktop applications available for download.
Salesforce provides a Request A Meeting feature which is fantastic at coordinating meetings with multiple people without the hassle of the endless emails back and forth to schedule everyone: video overview.
Inside vs Outside Sales
Inside sales staff typically have to catch all the sales balls the outside sales staff are throwing their way – quote requests, contracts, chasing up customers, etc., etc. If the outside sales staff are keeping their Salesforce accounts, contacts and opportunity information current with all activity noted then the inside staff will be 200% more effective. Gone will be the innumerable clarifications and additional communication in order to process requests.
Leverage Salesforce quotes and workflows such that outside sales staff submit new quotes which are automatically routed to inside sales staff via workflow rules where the quote is fully prepared and then routed back to the outside staff for review before sending off to the customer.
Every sales group has various documents they use on a regular basis – marketing material, quote forms, company bio, slide decks, etc. Salesforce has a very good Content Library for managing, sharing, discovering and tracking all of these in a single place.
The Deliver Content feature is particularly useful for sending a PDF or PowerPoint to a customer without the bulky attachment but a simple URL that the customer can click on and view the document right in their browser. This avoids those troublesome firewalls and the recurring “never received your proposal” emails. The system even emails you when the content is viewed by your customer.
Having all of your company’s contacts and leads in Salesforce opens the door to integrated email campaigns leveraging demographics and other data points for focused campaigns. Salesforce integrates with all of the major email marketing and automation companies.
Enterprise Systems Integration
Salesforce can be seamlessly connected to your company’s ERP, finance or other enterprise systems in order to expose all vital information in a single place. A good example would be customer invoices visible right in the account record without ever having to login to the finance system or pry the information out of Accounting.
Salesforce is a true cloud computing platform that allows for any custom application to be built. Entire ERP, finance and other complicated systems have been built on the platform.
Let’s go back to that moment of staring down at that 1868 typewriter and struggling whether to either strangle your boss or embrace a new method of working. The first step is just recognizing the long-term benefits of the new technology. Then getting over any irritation at having to learn something new. Followed by rolling up your sleeves and grasping the new technology and running with it.
That would be for an individual. For a company, the success of introducing new technology utterly depends on upper and middle management completely behind the initiative and mustering their juniors to learn and use the new systems.
Salesforce is an enterprise solution and thus its full benefit is not truly realized until the entire enterprise is on board and utilizing it in a creative fashion for their business.