How to Inspire End User Adoption

If your organization struggles with end user adoption for new processes and technologies then this post will help. The practical insights provided below have been proven to work whether deploying a new CRM system or a new process within existing technology.

The seeds of end user adoption are planted long before implementation. The secret is to create a sense of ownership and positive anticipation leading up to deployment.

Consider the foundational meaning of the word “adoption”. When a parent “adopts” a child, they take one that belonged to another and makes them their own. By this definition, true adoption goes beyond meeting the minimum requirements to a sense of personal responsibility and expected value.

To create a sense of ownership, create a committee (whether formal or informal) that is to actively participate in shaping the process or technology being deployed. This team should have at least one representative from each role being effected. Guide them to provide input at pre-established milestones.

Be sure to listen carefully and value their input. Give them a sense of ownership. Only the true owner of a project can offer a sense of ownership to selected others. If you do this well, they will advocate the new process to their peers well before implementation. You will have actually effected the culture, which will not be easily changed.

Now, what if we still have an issue with adoption; what if 100% of your sales team members are not passionate evangelists of your process (imagine that!)?

This is where the stick comes in. The stick is to be used only when the carrot doesn’t work. Willful adoption is always more effective than forced adoption.

The following guidelines will help you to continuously increase adoption:

1. Establish metrics to measure adoption AND the expected results of adoption.
2. Use the metrics you established.
3. Acknowledge those who are adopting well and highlight their positive results to their peers.
4. Point out those who are not adopting well.
5. Managers, hold your team members accountable. Manage beyond metrics. Interact with each member.
6. Executives, hold your managers accountable to holding their team members accountable.

How do you drive adoption? You don’t. You inspire adoption!


7 Responses to How to Inspire End User Adoption

  1. Peter Shaw says:

    Great post, Michael. I think that one other thing that is needed is to be able to answer the question “what’s in it for me?” very clearly. Adoption benefits greatly from personal gain.

  2. ccopple says:

    I agree with Peter. At the end of the day, the end-user of any technology really only adopts that technology if it provides him or her value. We have a mantra here at SAVO that “Value Drives Adoption.” This is core to how we’ve built and continue to enhance our product. We know that we are only as good as our ability to help the end-users of our technology do their jobs better and smarter. For the busy sales and marketing people we serve, that means we need to be relevant to them – their needs, what they’re looking for, and what they’re trying to do. We need to help them discover what else is out there could help them – this is huge in today’s age of information overload. We also need to work the way that they work. We need to be easy and intuitive for regular people out there. If people do not get value out of the technology you deploy, they simply will not come back. This is something you can’t necessarily coax out of your people. Instead, you need to be smart about the technologies you choose to deploy and really think through how this will be perceived and used by your front line users out there.

  3. Pingback: How to Inspire End User Adoption «

  4. Thanks for sharing Michael.

    I’ve had the pleasure of introducing a new sales portal to a jaded sales audience (and decommissioning the old portal). What worked for us was to create teams (one focused solely on regional adoption made up of members from each reagion); one focused on the offering groups (made up of a member from each product category); and one focused solely on driving the other teams and objectives of the program. We then drove seperate meetings as well as all inclusive ones.

    We tried to instill in the beginning the garbage in, garbage out philosophy: if the teams did not focus on the data in the tool (content, contacts, documents), then all we were doing is tranfering bad things from one portal to another portal. I’m always amazed at companies that introduce a new technology, give a one hour mandatory training session, and then are surprised 6 months later when no one is using it.

    Some team members were held accountable and measured: others were not as this was not a mandatory requirement from the executives. Those areas that ponied up and were held to a number and measured offered a more complete experience, which translated into higher adoption and usage.

    When reviewing user comments, you could tell what area and which reagion the user worked in based on their comments. Those that loved the new technology and got the most value worked in the areas with accountability and measurement. Those that did not found their experience lacking.

    Of course they blamed the technology for the missing content and inaccurate data (par for the course). Companies need to launch a solid change management strategy in addition to the technology if they want to be successful. They also need to have someone from their sales force not only involved in the selection of the tool and the features, but also have some kind of skin in the game. This initiative needs to be sanctioned by sales for sales (coming from IT or marketing makes it a much tougher hill to climb).

  5. Chris Pecce says:

    All great points and as Colleen can attest to, sellers will generally size up a new sales system by asking the question of, “should I start using this new tool, will it make my job easier or make more difficult”. The system needs to provide relevancy to the needs of the individual seller by helping them find the content or that internal expert to move a deal across the finish line.

  6. tamaraschenk says:

    Thanks for sharing all your ideas concerning end user adoption. Currently we are designing a sales enablement implementation project – therefore all your ideas are much appreciated and really “just-in-time”.
    What we’ve already learned and what we’ve already set up is an overall communication and change management initiative to create a sense of ownership and accountability including managing our stakeholders expectations on the timeline. We will definitely develop and implement a metric to measure the degree of adoption already for the implementation phase and not only for the operations later on (thanks Michael!). Additionally we will build key user groups in our different sales areas which are accountable for the implementation success. It means getting measured the overall usage of the sales enablement tool and especially the usage of collaboration features which will be a real challenge in our organization (“breaking silos”).
    Very important from my point of view is Peter Shaw’s statement “what’s in for me?” and Colleen Copples statement “value drives adoption”. Both are matching very well to the findings of existing case studies on end user adoption already existing: Sales reps have to experience a significant improvement of their daily work, in our case too many different applications, too many clicks in each application to find content, and of course problems to find relevant content corresponding to the specific (consultative) selling situation!
    If we could resolve these problems based on a “quality first initiative”, a clearly defined content ownership governance and a smarter overall usability I’m absolutely sure there will be added value for the sales force (and marketing and portfolio management as well!). This added value should drive the end user adoption from the user groups into the whole organization.
    I’m looking forward to our implementation project! A few months later I will gladly share our implementation experiences on end user adoption with you.

  7. cna training says:

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it.

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