When it comes to adopting new technology in business, organizations face some major challenges from employee resistance to training and tracking success. These challenges are so great that the failure rate, by some estimations, ranges between 50 and 70%. That’s pretty grim, right?
In this article, we’ll look at some technology adoption strategies that can help you get your team up, running, and achieving improved results. Keep reading to understand the difficulties that come with adopting new technology and our top recommendations to address them.
Challenges of implementing new technology
Countless technologies have been developed to improve the sales process, with many organizations making space in their budgets to equip their sales reps with new software. Unfortunately, many still struggle to achieve the post-purchase adoption rates they anticipated.
The challenges of implementing new technology in the workplace are real. A study by IDG found that most sales organizations that invest in new technology spend a whopping $500-$1,000 per rep. Yet, despite sinking significant funds into new tools, only about 55% of organizations have achieved even a moderate level of adoption.
According to the report, most often, those poor adoption numbers can be chalked up to a range of factors such as a lack of enforced use, poor alignment between departments, and a lack of integrations with other essential tools.
Whatever the cause, failing to adopt new technologies can result in wasted money, lost productivity, and even undermine your ability to compete in your industry. Here’s how to get ahead of this common problem.
Do your research before implementing a new system in the workplace
Before you get in touch with a software solution rep, make sure you can answer the following questions. These will both inform your technology adoption strategy and give you a sense of what to ask the rep when the time comes to engage.
- What type of solution are you looking for and what features do you need? Today’s software solutions come with all kinds of features, but instead of looking for the solution with the most exciting capabilities, consider the one that best suits your organization’s unique needs.
- What options are out there? Who are the main players here? How do they compare when it comes to pricing and features?
- What is your budget? If the answer is zero, can you reallocate existing budget to cover the cost? If you’re looking into buying a new technology, chances are you have a good reason. Now is not the time to skimp or settle on the wrong tool because of the right price — you’ll end up losing more money in the long run.
- What kind of timeframe are you working with? Are you purchasing a software in preparation for a big event or a new initiative? Depending on what you’re looking into, and the scope of the rollout, deployment could take months or even years.
- What kind of integrations are you looking for? Some integrations are need-to-have, while some are nice-to-have. Establish your mix.
- What tools are your reps already using? Are you replacing an existing solution with the latest and greatest model or planning on adopting something completely new?
There are several online resources available that can help you answer the questions outlined above. Analyst firms like Gartner, Forrester, and IDC, as well as review sites like TrustRadius and CrunchBase are great places to begin your search. They’ll help you compare solutions and let you read reviews from real customers.
Set goals and objectives before adopting new technology in business
When considering purchasing a new sales technology, focus on what it can do for your company, not just the cool bells and whistles promised in the marketing collateral. Avoid getting swayed by flashy features and make decisions based on what your goals are for this new solution. What does it need to do? Which features are essential for reaching those goals?
Without putting goals in place and KPIs to measure them, you risk “solving” problems you don’t have while neglecting your actual weak points.
Here are some standard KPIs for sales technologies:
- Increasing sales rep productivity
- Increasing revenue by X%
- Receiving a measurable ROI
- Shortening the sales cycle
- Improving communication and collaboration
- Increasing visibility throughout the sales process
To get the insights your KPIs will measure, you need to ensure your team is using the technology. Create a strategy to push technology adoption — think of your internal users like customers and sell the value of your app to them, track their usage, and gather feedback to improve your implementation process.
Opt for a provider that offers usage analytics so you can track who has installed the app and who hasn’t. These insights allow you to reach out to employees individually to increase adoption rates.
Get early buy-in from the top.
Humans are naturally resistant to change. Adopting new technology in business can be a burden on employees, as it usually requires additional training and makes their proficiency with a familiar system obsolete.
Establishing a top-down buy-in model is vital during the process of purchasing a new sales technology. Create evangelists out of upper-level management to generate internal excitement — expressing the value of the solution to lower-level management will eventually make its way down to the end-users.
They’re all thinking, “How does this help me?” Make sure the answer is crystal clear.
Take this article published in the Harvard Business Review, for example, comparing high-performing salespeople with their underperforming peers. They found that one of the key differences between the two groups was technology. Those reps who missed their targets by 25% either lacked access to sales technology or the knowledge of how to use it correctly.
Frame your messaging to reps in a way that clearly identifies the benefits of embracing change. If new technology can increase commissions, your team will be more likely to be supportive of the shift.
To drive the message home, turn again to upper management to solidify buy-in. When resistance inevitably crops up, your internal champions at the highest levels can reiterate the value of implementing the new technology in the workplace. Work training into your existing learning materials, make it a part of one-on-one coaching sessions, and focus on the positive outcomes associated with specific features.
Provide plenty of training resources
Just because your team has experience with a CRM or lead management tool doesn’t mean you should take shortcuts in the training process. While training is a significant time investment, it’s unwise to cut corners after spending so much money on the new solution.
Many vendors offer onboarding and support to make training easier to execute and reinforce. Look for a provider that can offer the following:
- Assist with initial training
- Provide suggestions for continued use of your application
- Answer questions that arise throughout the continued use of the program
- Help answer questions related to reporting and automating
Practice makes perfect when it comes to technology adoption strategies
Once you have buy-in from your internal stakeholders, have installed the new tools, and are tracking adoption rates, you’ll need to reinforce the new best practices.
After introducing a new application to your team, don’t expect them to hit the ground running. Instead, provide plenty of opportunities for users to learn how these new features directly tie into their specific jobs.
We’ve found most reps need between three and ten interactions with new technology before they feel comfortable incorporating it into their daily workflows.
If you’re training a sales rep on how to use sales enablement software, then your training program might focus on the following scenarios:
- Cross-selling using a digital catalog
- Conducting in-person AR demos
- Finding sales collateral appropriate for each buying stage
- Using an analytics dashboard to tie prospect engagement to specific selling activities
Offering incentives can also ease some of the key challenges of adopting new technology in business. For example, gamification and awards can be used as a fun and engaging way to get more employees on-board and using new technology.
After a few interactions with the most important features in your new application, reps can begin testing their knowledge in the field. From there, managers should regularly review analytics for who has or hasn’t practiced with the app. Identifying your early adopters, as well as those most resistant to change, can help you customize training and encourage continued use of the new tool.
Technology adoption strategies should help you keep pace with change
Again, adoption isn’t a one-and-done affair — it should continue to evolve. Aim to create a culture that embraces, rather than fears, change.
Combat the challenges of implementing new technology by encouraging team members to read up on the latest trends, educate themselves on industry news, and research new technologies that could help your organization become more productive.
Support your team as you roll out changes and reinforce knowledge through low-stakes, repeat interactions. The end goal isn’t just adoption — it’s arming your team with the tools they need to become better sellers and more productive employees.