If you’re selling an innovation, persuading a prospect to purchase your product or service is not the endpoint. Getting them to use it is because that’s how you’re going to diffuse your innovation through recommendations, expanded organization adoption and a sustained relationship. And this is also the hard part because eventhough the only constant in life is change, our species is shockingly resistant to it. We have a cognitive bias for the known, and that’s what you are up against in the post-sales process. This post runs through a few things to keep in mind when you’ve sold into an organization, and there is a knowledge or familiarity gap between you and your organization with its innovative product or service and your client’s system.
Welcome to user adoption planning.
First off, you’ll need a change agent: it might be you, it might be someone in the purchasing organization, it might be a consultant (me, for instance). The change agent is going to be responsible for the diffusion of the product within the receiving organization; the change agent is going to bridge the gap and needs one foot in each world. Strong communication and interpersonal skills coupled with a high degree of empathy and the ability to meet the client system at its level of education and understanding are critical. The change agent has to be able to ignite interest in the innovation, translate that interest into adoption and then stabilize the adoption.
The change agent should also learn or know enough about the organization to anticipate which areas of the client system will need to be involved in the introduction of the innovation and subsequent support of it. For example:
- Legal: will any adjustment to employee policies need to be made?
- IT: How will the product or service integrate with existing systems, or will consultants need access or training?
- HR: Does the product or service impact employees in any way? Will training be required? Does it touch performance requirements?
- MarCom: How will the new product or service be communicated, how often and when?
The person leading your post-sales implementation, your change agent, should be prepared and empowered to create a sustainable implementation, in which the innovation is highly compatible not only with client needs but also with their resources. Clients must feel highly involved with the innovation such that they regard it as theirs so that it will continue over the long term.
The benefits of comprehensive user adoption planning are myriad: the more you know your customer, the better product or service will be. Understanding how your client takes up your innovation will inform how you position it, how you talk about it, and how you evaluate your leads.