Technology planning

Change management strategies for introducing Salesforce to nonprofits and associations

Change Management Strategies for Introducing Salesforce to Associations

Sometimes, facts don’t matter. You can tell your co-workers, executives, or board members about the benefits of introducing a new technology, process, or tactic, but they don’t want to hear it. For them, the old way, the one they’re used to, is the best and only way. How do you respond to their resistance? How do you get them to stop pushing back against progress?

With our change management strategies in hand, you can make more headway when starting a new technology project, like a Salesforce implementation, introducing a new process, or proposing a new strategy or tactic to your association’s naysayers and resisters.

Why people resist change

Naysayers aren’t resisting the change itself—the new CRM or process. They’re resisting the transition they have to make to accommodate the change. Change is external, but transition is an internal psychological process—and it’s not a comfortable feeling.

What happens when you try something new? You could fail. Even worse, you could fail in front of others. Change is scary. It threatens our ego and our sense of self. All of a sudden, someone who was the wiz at creating a membership report has to learn how to do it all over again. They’ve lost their mastery. Now, they feel inept by having to accommodate to your new way of doing things.

Your colleagues and board members may not have a good record with change. Our personal experiences sometimes color our professional reactions. Change at work might rock someone’s teetering sense of control.

Taking a risk could have negative implications. What if the new project doesn’t produce the expected results? Someone’s legacy as a board member or a staff person’s reputation around the office could be tarnished.

Original project stakeholders can be emotionally invested in the old technology and processes they helped bring on board. Now you’re saying their system isn’t good enough and should be replaced. Are you calling their baby ugly? When someone’s ego is attached to old technology or processes, they often refuse to engage or cede responsibility. The cold shoulder you’re getting might end up being the least of your problems.

Anticipate and learn from resistance to change

Expect people to resist change—that’s the norm. Before you start acting like a hero who’s going to save the day with your decision to migrate to Salesforce, take time to understand the personalities or culture behind the resistance to change.

Think of resistance as a change management opportunity. Talk to people who aren’t embracing your new idea. Listen to them with your empathy switch turned to 11. What concerns them? What are they afraid of losing?

These people want to be heard and have their concerns and ideas taken seriously. And, sometimes, they just need to vent. You can smooth some ruffled feathers just by listening and acknowledging their feelings.

With what you’ve learned, develop talking points that spell out the benefits of the new technology or process for your organization, your supporters, and your fellow co-workers. How will Salesforce help your association fulfill its mission or achieve its goals? How will it make their jobs easier? How will it save time?

Change management strategies for associations and nonprofits

Keep these change management strategies in mind when it’s time to make a case for your project.

Involve resisters and honor their contributions.

Don’t charge ahead alone. Ask staff who will use the new technology, even the naysayers, to contribute their expertise. They have knowledge to share about the existing technology and processes related to that technology. You need this information to develop thorough and accurate system requirements.

Right now, they may feel like the losers, but you can make them feel like valuable contributors. Hear all their voices and treat each with respect. They must be involved in gathering requirements, documenting existing processes, and developing new processes.

Connect the change to your association’s mission and goals.

Align the change in the resister’s mind with something bigger than all of you: your association’s purpose and objectives. How will this change help your organization do its good work? Remind them, it’s not about them or about you, it’s about what’s best for the mission.

Talk about the here and now.

The big picture is important, but humans are short-term thinkers. How will this change help them do their jobs tomorrow—or in the near future? How will it save time? Saving time is always on everyone’s mind. How will it improve operations? Talk about the more immediate, practical implications of the change.

Be open and transparent.

Don’t unintentionally create an “us vs. them” situation. People don’t trust what they can’t understand. Communicate frequently about the project. Transparency can help dispel rumors and correct misinformation. Be available and open for questions and conversations.

Provide plenty of support.

Everyone has a different change comfort level. Everyone learns differently. Some people will figure things out on their own. But others will need individual coaching and handholding. Don’t make assumptions about the type of support people need, find out by observing and asking.

Take full advantage of the training options offered by your technology partner. For example, our clients have great success (and a lot of fun!) with Trailhead, Salesforce’s online training website – a free resource for “Trailblazers” to learn all about Salesforce. We can also create custom Trailmixes on Trailhead to suit the level and stage of training needed by your staff.

Space change out when possible.

Change is overwhelming enough. If possible, introduce a little at a time. Get people used to one new process before introducing another. Let them crawl, and then walk, before you make them run.

Celebrate and share adoption progress.

The Salesforce Adoption Dashboard helps you measure in real-time your staff’s adoption of your new CRM. When you start seeing positive results, share them with everyone. Reassure staff that the psychological pain they may be experiencing is worth the results.

Check-in with project resisters to get their feedback. What’s working for them? What parts of the project could have gone better? What can still be improved?

Give credit to everyone who was involved in the project in any way. Gather the entire team together to celebrate their success.

Technology projects are really about people—the people who contribute their knowledge about requirements and processes, who help select and implement the technology, who train to use the technology, and who resist the technology. The more you learn about resisters and involve them in the project, the sooner they’ll accept and adopt your new technology.

Change management is an integral part of every Salesforce project at Fíonta. Let us know if we can help you win over your association or nonprofit’s new technology resisters.