Don't Tell Me We Did It AgainSo…you’ve just purchased a great new tool for your sales team. It’s going to help them drive revenue by helping track prospect engagement, shorten sales cycles, and put the most relevant assets for the right selling situation at the right time right in front of them. They’re gonna love it, and thank you for making their jobs so much easier. It’s going to be flat out awesome.

Well…maybe…you’ve got to get them to use it first!

Salespeople are notoriously difficult to train on new sales systems.  This can easily cause resentment amongst the marketing or automation team that’s just spent countless hours researching and implementing a solution that is designed to help sales do their jobs better, faster and easier. But don’t hang your head in defeat before you even start! With over a decade of implementing & training sales users on new tools, we’ve learned a few things over the years.

Here’s a few tips and best practices that will hopefully help you if and when you ever find yourself in this all-too-familiar situation:

Empathize with the Pressure Sales is Under to Hit Their Numbers

In some ways, frustration can be the biggest barrier to sales adoption of new systems.  The first, biggest step in getting sales to do anything, is to have empathy with the unforgiving nature of what sales does.  After all, at the end of the quarter, team leads and executives aren’t asking sales, “Hey, did you get trained on that new system?”  The first question they ask is:  “Did you make your sales targets this quarter?”  In other words, sales doesn’t want to be spending time training on or learning about a new system – they want to be selling – because that’s what their measured on.  If you keep that in mind when selecting, designing, and implementing the system, it’ll go a long way.

Involve the Sales Team During Implementation

As with all implementations, in our rush to realize the program we cannot forget about the user. Although it may seem counterintuitive (since I just told you sales doesn’t want to spend time doing anything that could take them away from their precious selling time), bring sales into the process of onboarding an automated system as soon as you are able to do so.  Fair warning here: sales folks will resist this.  They may even go so far to assure you that they’ll be fine with whatever you select.  This is a lie.

I’m not saying you need to have the entire sales force involved in the implementation, but it is critical that you have sales leadership and a few reps participate (at least on some level) in the design and implementation of the system. Their involvement is critical to having the sales teams ultimately use it.  If you attempt to train sales on a system that isn’t relevant to how they do daily business, then they won’t use it no matter how you carrot or stick them.  So get them involved early so the system functions the way they need it to from the get-go.

Become a Seller Yourself

The best way to get sales on board with using your new tool, in my experience, is to develop a benefit plan before implementation. List out all of the positive benefits your organization will receive by deploying the system.  If you’re doing this during the system selection process, list out the positive outcomes your organization is looking to achieve.  Regardless of when in the process you do this, the sales team isn’t going to be interested in all of the benefits, so don’t share all of them – short list the most relevant benefits and send those to the sales team.  A long list containing benefits that don’t apply to sales will only end up in the trashcan, electric or otherwise.

Do a Test Drive & Generate Some Internal Advocates First

When design is finished and implementation has begun, you’ll want to expand sales’ input beyond the team leadership to include a small group of sales reps for user testing or training rather than doing an immediate company-wide rollout.  This allows for individuals to offer up critical input as to how sales will actually use the system.  Additionally, if you listen to this input and incorporate it into the system, that small group of sales that tests the system will become your first group of advocates.  Having them tell success stories to their colleagues is the best recommendation any system is going to get.


User adoption is a key metric for implementing any new technology tool within your organization. A tool that is never used, or not used enough, obviously will never reach it’s ROI potential. Thus it is always to your greatest benefit to do all that you can to make the launch of a new tool successful within your company. As a member of our services team, I have direct experience working with companies on a daily basis to ensure their systems get used and adopted by the key stakeholders within the organization. If you’re struggling with a user adoption problem, or are thinking of implementing a new sales tool yourself, drop us a line. We’d love to share our insights and help you be successful.

Matthew McLean
Matthew McLean is a Program Manager at RO Innovation. He has a passion for helping organizations and individuals increase sales and market share through the design and application of software. With over 15 years of experience in customer relationship management, project management, and product management with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500 in a variety of industry verticals, McLean can help your company grow via sales and marketing best practices.