How to Avoid the Biggest Mistakes Related to Salesforce Training & Adoption

I recently asked 10 Salesforce experts to share their insights to the following question:

“What is the biggest mistake organizations make when it comes to Salesforce training, and how would you avoid it?”

Here's what they answered:

I would call out two things that I’ve experienced since I became an admin:

1. Assuming that training some functions is ‘above’ a user’s level. I made the mistake of assuming that training on reporting was ‘above the pay grade’ of my users. Months later, I get constant requests to teach them how to run reports.
2. Training on the system that I designed and implemented often causes me to make assumptions about user’s knowledge. Going forward I am going to ask that my users create a list of goals or items they want to have learned by the end of training. This will also help me understand what ‘analogous features’ users are looking to see going from one system to the next. 

My actual #1 is that adoption woes and training problems usually reflect a system whose design isn't user friendly. I remember inheriting an org where reps needed to perform no fewer than 12 steps in five different objects when they were ready to flag "Closed-Won." Even when they tried, they'd miss a step.

My practical #1 is not reinforcing training with a additional messages, a content hub, videos, resource center, etc. Most sfdc training takes place during a sales onboarding. It's usually like an hour, the reps are typically fried and worried about learning to demo their product, not focused on learning a desk system. Most people learn best by doing, and during training probably they're a good 2+ weeks away from entering their first Salesforce record in that org.

I learned a lot about effective communication from my friends in marketing, who know that no one remembers anything unless they've been exposed to it *at least* three times. So the training content needs to be readily available...not just emailed after the training. Even better if the org itself pushes training content at critical moments (cf. "Closed-Won" case above).

I always envied those companies where they have dedicated trainers. Doing training right is too much work if you're a full time admin/developer.

For End Users: The training material tries to mimic the process the User had before going into Salesforce, it tries to show the user what they were used to doing.. Instead the Training should show them the new process on a new application that will be clearer and more useful. (It is difficult to make people change). 
A  good practice would be to have a follow up training after x period of time, where the users will have had some months  of experience in Salesforce and will be more open to learn more

For Developers: Not requiring your developers to keep up their skill and get new ones from a corporation is a big mistake. They should encourage it and support it. SFDC has enhancements so often that the developers need to keep up their knowledge of the platform.

Over the past 8 years introducing and managing platforms, and leading teams to drive adoption, the biggest training mistake is not having follow-up training. Besides training on the “basics”, shorter more specific training (activity management, reporting, etc..) need to occur.

The biggest mistake is having one long training session at the beginning and no follow up or ongoing training program.

Here what I hear from my users:

Probably relying on lectures and Power Point presentation is the biggest mistake.

Instead, most time should be spent to require  users to complete hands on exercises and play in a real Salesforce environment.

Depending on the type of user, some hands on exercises should be completely scripted, and others should require the end users to explore and discover a bit on their own.

Too much, too soon. 

Know your immediate goals and own it. Better to adhere Just Enough, Just In Time. 

Organizations do not usually think technical training warrants a defined role.  Training takes a lot of time, and if your users and business leaders expect use of data to be more powerful it usually also means it’s more complex to manage.  Your typical admin does a lot of person to person elicitation, documentation and UAT.  While this covers basic business requirements need, there really needs to be capacity to also add support and training for all of that administration.  While an admin at a typical organization (20-50) can usually manage that, it does not scale well.  Another pitfall I’ve seen is a company adding headcount for a data analyst and tack on training to that role.  Training always takes a back seat as everyone is hungry for reporting and projections.
At New Leaders as we rebuilt our Business Solutions function we carved out an entire role dedicated to training and support.  All internal knowledge management and technical onboarding of staff is managed along with day to day questions.  We also support program participants (customers) if they get stuck with one of our systems.  We currently have 3 Admins/BAs supporting SFDC, 2 supporting Canvas LMS and 1 supporting our HR solutions and Google for Business.  Having a role managing training support and communications ensures proper follow-through on all our technical roll outs and updates.

I don’t know if it is the ‘biggest’ but a common mistake organizations make when it comes to Salesforce training is focusing exclusively on navigation and process and completely ignoring the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) factor, which in my opinion, is the driving force behind user adoption.

Yes, the users can follow instructions and do the things they need to do in Salesforce but they will not see any real value in it. Next comes adoption resistance. And your Analytics will ‘suffer’ from it.
I think the best way to avoid this mistake is to design your training with the WIIFM factor in mind. Identify the benefit that particular Salesforce element/process/automation will bring to the users’ everyday work life and clearly communicate it to them during training.

I think the biggest mistake in Salesforce training is when you try to generalize sessions and involve too many different teams.
In our organization each sales team operates slightly different.  Customizing the training to their day to day helps in retention of new information.
Discussing how to process a contract and opportunity for a transactional sales person versus a subscription sales person requires a different approach.
Large, general training sessions don’t always help but instead hurt.

About the author: David Giller

David Giller a Salesforce Trainer, Consultant, Blogger & Author. Although he started his professional career as an attorney, he entered the world of enterprise-scale IT management at NBCUniversal, and continued at GE Capital, where he was first introduced to Salesforce & became known as "The Salesforce Guru." David is now CEO of Brainiate. You can read more about David's bizarre career path here.

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