Struggling with Tech Adoption? Start with an Impact Assessment

As investment in sales technology continues to rise, organizations still struggle with adoption. In last week’s blog, we discussed how organizations can get the most out of their sales tech tools. Today we continue the focus on sales technology and look at how sales leaders can partner with sales operations to improve adoption of their sales tech investment by conducting an impact assessment.

Sales technology adoption continues to be a challenge. (Click to tweet)

As noted last week, sales organizations continue to invest in sales technology with 10 or more already in use. But what about adoption rates? When we look specifically at CRM as an example, from 2013 to 2018, the percentage of organizations reporting CRM adoption rates greater than 90% increased by only 9 points, from 36.6% to 45.7% (2018-2019 Sales Performance Study). This means that while CRM implementation is almost universal, adoption growth has been slow over the past five years. (Click to tweet)

With sales technology roll-outs, the before and after scenario is usually clear. For example, before CRM, each salesperson managed contact and opportunity information in their own spreadsheets or notebooks, making it challenging to access this information. After CRM, you now have a central repository for this information, allowing you to pull various reports as well as retain the information even after the salesperson leaves.

It’s more challenging to think through what impacts there might be with the introduction of a new sales technology. And usually these impacts are what can slow down adoption. Continuing with the CRM example, a common complaint we hear is the fact that salespeople now have to spend more time on non-selling activity such as inputting data into the CRM, coupled with the fact that they’re not getting value from the new tool. It is often seen as a system of record for executives and sales leaders and others such as sales operations or finance to pull reports from. If we knew about how the salesperson’s day-to-day experience will change, as well as what they wanted to get out of the new tool, we would have been able to address this as part of the change management plan.

By conducting an impact assessment, organizations can better understand impacts the new sales technology might have to their sales team’s experiences, processes, and systems. (Click to tweet) As a result, they can pull together a more complete change management plan, which should help with better adoption.

Here are three key questions to ask when conducting an impact assessment:

  1. Who is the impacted audience? Clearly listing impacted audiences is an important first step in conducting an impact assessment, as you need to determine the type and level of impact by audience. Impacted audiences should include not only users of the new sales technology, but also others who may be impacted by changes in the process and system handoffs, both upstream and downstream, as well as those who may be consuming the new reports available from the technology.If your go-to-market approach includes channel partners, they also may be an impacted audience. For example, if you are planning to roll out a new prospecting tool, sales/business development teams and sales account executives will be users and, therefore, directly impacted. Marketing teams may be impacted, especially if they reference new or updated contact information. Customer success teams also may be impacted if they reference and update contact information.


  1. How will their experience change? Now let’s take a look at how the current experience of identified audience groups will be impacted with the introduction of the new sales technology. By looking at it from an experience perspective, you will more easily be able to identify the impacted processes and systems. Ideally, you will have the current processes documented to determine the expected change. If the process is not documented, this step will ensure you are documenting the current process as well as the future process. Similarly, if you have a tech stack view available by function (e.g., sales, marketing, customer success, etc.), you can look at where the new sales technology will fit and how it might impact other systems.For example, with a new prospecting tool, the lead handoff process may need to be adjusted. If there are multiple audiences such as marketing, sales and others in the process, make sure to look at it from all angles. If there are systems aligned to the impacted processes, like CRM and marketing automation platform (MAP), you also should identify what system adjustments need to be made.


  1. What is the level of impact? Ranking the impact level (e.g., high, medium, low) will help determine priority areas to focus on. You also can use impact level to ascertain whether you should plan for a short- or long-term approach. If the impact is significant enough, it may require more of a long-term plan with a phased approach. For example, if the new prospecting tool will be used as part of both sales and marketing processes, you might take a phased approach and roll it out to sales users first, then marketing. If the impact is low, you might decide on a smaller scale approach with a simple informational communication. For example, if the new prospecting tool does not impact the finance team significantly, you might plan to just keep them informed but not require any training or process updates. By looking at the impact level of the expected change, you can customize your plan by audience instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach.


Now that you have conducted an impact assessment, it’s time to partner with sales enablement and sales management to pull together a change management plan. Depending on the impacted audience, process and system, as well as the level of impact, you can develop audience-specific plans. And remember: Keeping secondary audiences informed is just as important as involving and training the primary impacted audience. A comprehensive change management plan may not be necessary for smaller sales technology rollouts; however, sales operations teams can still conduct a quick impact assessment by asking the questions above. This way, you may end up identifying impacts you didn’t foresee and, therefore, be more prepared.

Questions for you:

  • What is the adoption rate of the latest sales technology you implemented?
  • Did your latest sales technology rollout include an impact assessment?
  • How many impacted audiences did your latest sales technology implementation have? Was it limited to just the sales teams?


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