« Mix It Up | Main | How's Your Weather »

Recycling Adoption

It is a truly great thing that it is getting more possible to recycle these days. More and more of the client offices I visit and public locations I travel through provide that special bin for depositing the unneeded plastic bottle or soft drink can. Even the airlines are getting into the act by separating newspapers and plastics from the rest of the rubbish.

This is a great example of successful user adoption in my opinion. Although, it has been a long and bumpy road we have been traveling down. In my part of town recycle day is every other Tuesday and it sincerely warms my heart when I see my neighbors placing their empty wine bottles and cat food tins in that special green plastic carton instead of their trash barrels. Conversely, I try not to get too irritated with the neighbors who don’t place their green plastic cartons curbside on every other Tuesday, even though I am certain their trash barrels are full of newspapers, cans, water bottles and flattened boxes.

If you believe the information from the people who collect and analyze this stuff, one trend that is not following quite as well as this increased willingness to separate one’s trash is the adoption of sales force automation. I have had a chance to review some studies – not stuff from the late 90’s – we are talking about findings from research conducted over the last year. These folks, who specialize in this stuff, tell us that SFA implementations are at an increasing rate of execution. Everybody is doing it, so it seems. Of course it does make sense. There is no more excuse any longer.

The technical abilities for managing sales activities and account details have become accessible through both affordability and functionality advancement. There is no reason for a sales function to operate without the enablement provided by SFA platforms. According to the aforementioned research, pretty much everybody is on board. That is, they have the software, but the research also shows they are not necessarily using it. This is the part I find most amazing. The deployment rates of these software packages are increasing, but the adoption rates are not. People may be more willing to recycle their empty milk containers, but they don’t want to capture their progression of sales stages on the small screen.

One might think after all this time we would have learned what is required to get these programs to deliver success. In fact we have. I think the problem is that too many of these projects are of the SaaS variety. Folks are taking the pay-as-you-go approach and they think they don’t need to address all the variables of the larger on premise implementations. That is a fallacy which is leading a considerable amount of these lower cost projects astray. Just because the software costs less, does not mean that the challenges of adoption go away. In fact they remain absolutely the same.

There are actually quite a few things that need to be done to assure that SFA tool adoption happens successfully with sales reps. However, if I were to boil it down to the two most critical, it would be the following.

Potencia Naturale

The first factor is all about the balance between WIFM and the hassle factor. Asking sales reps to enter a bunch of data for somebody else’s benefit is a bad idea. They need to get something back. It is a lot like putting a nickel deposit on a Coke bottle. If you want the glass back you need to give the consumer something in return. That has been a great scheme. In order to get people to store up all their beer cans in the garage they need to get a buck twenty back for each case they return. The same thing goes for SFA. If you want for sales reps to capture customer profiles to benefit the marketing department, they need to get something back in return.

However, it is not that simple. There is also the hassle of keeping all those cans in the garage. Is it worth a nickel each? Well, in California they had to raise it to a dime. And in Maine wine and liquor bottles got up to 15 cents. We have to make the ratio work. The what-is-in-it-for-me portion of the equation has to be greater than the hassle of doing the work. In some cases capturing call data after each visit is perceived as less of a hassle than creating the weekly call report on Friday nights from scratch. But, if all we do is make the forecast better for the boss on the backs of the field reps, cooperation is bound to be poor.

But then you should ask, “Why do folks recycle if they don’t get five pennies back for each bottle?” That is a great question and it leads us to the second critical adoption factor that we might think of as accountability of purpose. Getting accountability is a big deal all by itself. Lack of individual accountable is a huge problem for CRM. If you don’t expect that people participate, there is a good chance they won’t. But just meeting compliance requirements alone can leave a customer data base somewhat sparse. I often hear the complaint from my customers that users do what their told, but only the bare minimum. That won’t help our landfills.

I spend between one and two hours each week dealing with our family recycle volume. This is not something I do just to meet a compliance requirement. I feel committed to this process because I believe in the end game. Do the sales folks even know what your end game is? This is corny, but your users do need to believe in a higher calling, and feel accountable to achieve it. The individual sales rep needs to believe that by entering information about his or her customer visit the information will become intelligence, serving him or her in return, plus serving the organization as a whole. Marketing campaigns will improve, forecasts will be more precise, product development will be more effective, and the organization will increase its odds of winning. This connection to the greater purpose will drive adoption beyond compliance and toward solid program ROI.

This second primary SFA adoption factor is all about having a strongly defined, communicated, and supported purpose. It needs to be driven from the top, reinforced in the middle, and constantly reminded to the folks on the front line. It goes beyond compliance of entering data. It is about being accountable to helping the organization thrive. When combined with the focus on individual benefit, this one-two punch will greatly improve your program success.

Don’t forget, that plastic ice coffee cup, lid and straw can be recycled.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)