Tabloid Revolution: Daily Mail Publisher Makes CRM Personal


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To increase Salesforce adoption, A&N pursued that well-known sales adage: “Give the people what they want.”

Never underestimate the CRM user-adoption challenge.

That’s one takeaway from A&N Media, which publishes the Daily Mail, Metro, and other widely read newspapers and websites, and which began implementing Salesforce in July 2012.

The project commenced after this top-down directive: implement the Salesforce Sales Cloud, use minimal customizations, and don’t bother training employees; they’ll figure it out. A seven-week implementation and initial rollout to 225 users followed. But after a few months, the CRM team found–thanks in part to sales reps having to input the same data into multiple systems, including Salesforce–that user adoption levels for the new CRM system hovered at just 14%.

To encourage its employees to embrace Salesforce, A&N Media began working with Innoveer, which outlined specific change management processes to pursue. Thanks to this revamped approach, A&N’s next rollout of Salesforce–for the advertising department of its free Metro newspaper–launched with a user-adoption rate of 86%.

To learn more about these results, I spoke with Rina Chotai, who’s head of delivery for mobile and cloud products and services at A&N Media:

What accounts for the high level of user adoption for the second Salesforce project?

Chotai: For the first project, we didn’t look at the business change elements, such as the business processes surrounding Salesforce, training requirements, communications requirements, the structure and individual roles across the business, or ask if we should be looking at rewards.

A couple of months later, when we did realize that our user adoption levels were so low, we asked, how do we take a step back? And as a result, when the Metro foundation project kicked off–which is what Innoveer was involved in–we took a completely different approach, focused on people and processes as well as technology, and held a series of workshops with people, nominated from across the Metro team, who had business process knowledge. Together, we designed a way of working with Salesforce, and ensured people understood the benefits of all the changes we were making.

Which of the two approaches was more challenging–focusing on technology, or prioritizing change management?

The second was absolutely more challenging, because it required people to go in and get real, in-depth knowledge of how that business worked. What were their day-to-day challenges and issues, and why were they using all of these spreadsheets to complete their work? How can we make their lives a lot easier?

Knowing the nitty-gritty of what they do, day to day, helps us understand what the resulting training should be, as well as our communications strategy, to make sure everybody is absolutely aware of what’s being delivered, why we’re doing it, and what the benefits are to them. On the back end, meanwhile, we worked to configure the technology to meet all of those business requirements, and to help get rid of administrative tasks and duplication of work.

One school of thought that says that just by involving users in that discussion, you’ll see more buy-in, because they feel like they’re part of the solution. Did you see that?

Absolutely, and in our how-to discussions and training, the benefits of the CRM system became very clear, such as understanding what stage each of their opportunities is at, the next steps that need to be taken, as well as seeing opportunity information in the form of dashboards.

As we’ve brought other A&N businesses–including Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail classifieds, Metro, the digital team–to this new way of working, applying the lessons we’ve learned, the response has also been really positive. People want to be part of this new project, and they’re really starting to see the benefits of working with CRM by sharing information. And of course, the more up-to-date the data you put into Salesforce, the more beneficial it becomes for you, for the entire team, and ultimately, for the entire business group.

Based on your experience, what are your top three recommendations for any business that’s just now beginning a new CRM implementation?

My biggest lesson learned is, don’t just look at CRM as a technology. Look at it as a business change project, understand what the training requirements are, how people work, how we could be changing how people work, and really integrate that process with the technology itself.

Second is management buy-in. Make sure you’ve got that from senior management, so your program is driven from the top, down.

Third is to look at how you’re going to incentivize people, as well as the requirements around integration. Make sure you’ve got an end-to-end process that’s fully integrated, so people aren’t having to increase their administration time, or make duplicate entries all the time.

To that last point, would your ideal approach be to implement a standalone SFA tool, as you did, or to wait for a rollout that includes required integration from the start?

There are benefits to be had across all stages. If you have a fully integrated system, then you’re going to get higher levels of user adoption. However, if you start it early, then you are going to slowly change corporate behaviors and culture–trying to get people to work in a new way–which does need to be done ahead of time.

Based on my experience, my recommendation would be to wait until you have the integration. Standalone can work, but you need to define the criteria for your [data] entry process, before you integrate. Regardless of your approach, however, communications are a vital part of the rollout. Make sure your CRM program messages are getting disseminated across the businesses, and people are getting excited about using the new tool–rather than being told that they have to use it.

Learn More

Innoveer Solutions, now part of Cloud Sherpas, helps businesses maximize their CRM returns by identifying desired business goals, finding the right tools and technology for the job, and delivering rapid implementations that remain focused on achieving your desired business capabilities.

Post and thumbnail photos: Associated Newspapers Ltd.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


  1. Getting employees to buy in is critical for most business processes and to increase overall productivity. Employees are smart people, they want to feel like their part of the solution, that they are appreciated and that what they do matter.
    Nothing sends the opposite message better than imposing technologies and decisions without consultation while expecting all of them to play ball because they have to.
    And with CRM implementations, you need people to play ball, because a CRM system is only as good as the data that goes into it. And that data is contributed by everyone.
    So it is as much about business processes as it is about people. Technology is there just to make it easier, not the end goal.


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