How to introduce new products to your team with enthusiastic adoption

We're going to outline the best process for introducing new tools to your team that will inspire enthusiastic adoption. We've spent years and years trying new tools, bringing them to new teams and companies, and convincing certain stubborn teammates to make a switch.

How to introduce new products to your team with enthusiastic adoption
Photo by Clay Banks / Unsplash

If you're anything like us, you're on a constant pursuit to find the perfect CRM / note taking / video conferencing / async messaging / virtual team building software for your company and your team. If you're working on a remote team, then you know the potential impact of using great tools is HUGE on your remote work culture and productivity. Of course, when you do find "the perfect" thing, it can be difficult to introduce it to your team and get full adoption of the tool.

We're going to outline the best process for introducing new tools to your team that will inspire enthusiastic adoption. We've spent years and years trying new tools, bringing them to new teams and companies, and convincing certain stubborn teammates to make a switch. (For example, our marketer has switched 4 different companies to her favorite email software... and it was not easy.)

Here's what we're going to cover:

  1. How to introduce a new tool to your team
  2. Types of people you'll need to convince and how
  3. Spreading adoption
  4. Is it really that hard?

Let's get started.

How to introduce a new tool

There is an art to introducing new software to your team. This honestly borders on some diplomat level skills needed, so get ready for some negotiating. The first thing you need to do is answer a few questions - this will help you prepare your argument for the tool:

  1. What is this new tool replacing?
  2. If nothing, what problem is it solving?
  3. If your team won't think it's a problem, why is it a problem?
  4. How much time will this save in comparison?
  5. Why is it better than your previous solution?
  6. How will your team benefit from it?
  7. How much will it cost? (this is good for finance dept.)
  8. How long will it take to learn/onboard?
  9. Any negative aspects?

When you have the answer to these questions, then you can confidently move forward.

We recently adopted a new tool here at Sesh: Remotion. It's a virtual meetings tool that lets us meet more casually. Maybe it's just easier to explain how we introduced it to the team it and how it's working.

Remotion Adoption:

  1. What is this new tool replacing?
  • It will be replacing calling people over Slack

2. Why is it better than previous solution?

  • It's a way to have ad hoc calls and pop into rooms as needed

3. How will your team benefit from it?

  • Emulates an office culture of hanging in the break room
  • Pop in and out with no pressure
  • Share music and listen to playlists together for a more chill meeting
  • Creates a time and place for bonding without forced hangouts

4. How much will it cost?

  • Free for now while they're in Beta

5. How long will it take to learn/onboard?

  • Takes a few minutes to sign up
  • Simple to learn

6. Any negative aspects?

  • Relies on people joining the rooms and using it, so adoption is key
  • Doesn't support Linux, so it's hard for Ryan to join
  • Always open on desktop, so it can get in the way when you're doing unrelated work

To begin adoption of Remotion, our CEO tested it out with one person. You gotta get at least one person on board to sign off on it before introducing it to the whole team. After using it as a pair for a few days, we brought in another person. Things were looking promising, but being that it is a social tool, we really needed the whole team in on it.  We invited everyone and made an announcement in our staff meeting that we would be using it.

To make sure the whole team was using it, we created a daily time for us to meet on Remotion and chat. It's not mandatory, and there's no agenda. It's just a cool, post lunch time to chill and catch up and then splinter off if work needs to be done. Doing that led to quicker adoption because there was an immediate need created for it.

Now, implementing a work-related software that's less social will take more time and energy, but you can follow the same framework above to get people onboard and using your new tool effectively.

Who do you need to convince?

Now, we know stereotyping is typically frowned upon, but we've been working with software folks long enough to know that there are certain types of people who will react differently to new tools. So, for fun we decided to outline the different characters you're going to need to convince to adopt a new product. If you play your cards right, you'll get them on your side in no time.

The Early Adopter: The Early Adopter is usually the one that's introducing the new tools to you and your team. They're scouring Product Hunt daily, and signing up left and right for waiting lists. They're the ones that got the whole office using "Yo" even though it didn't actually benefit the team like, at all.

The Early Adopter is easy because they're going to be down to try pretty much anything. You just have to be careful because they will immediately want to replace what your team has adopted with the next best thing. It's important to set boundaries with this person and help them understand that while their enthusiasm is appreciated, when a tool is chosen, you're likely sticking to it for the long haul.

The Naysayer: The Naysayer is one of our favorites because we have one in our office (lookin' at you, Molly). This person loves to point out the deep flaws of software as soon as they sign up. The UI is too dark, the onboarding emails are "bad", they've used this before and it "sucks".

Now, it can be important to listen to The Naysayer when you're first evaluating software. They may point out an actual flaw in the system that truly isn't going to work for your use case. Of course, if it's just simple design critique, let them get on with it and then use the tool anyways.

The Skeptic: This person just straight up doesn't want to try anything new. Not because they like the current setup, but simply because they don't want to make the effort of changing to a new tool. They've gone through enough software changes to know that nothing truly lasts or fits every need, so they've given up trying.

Now, if you have The Skeptic recommending something new, that's your sign to adopt it quickly, it's probably legit. When you're talking to them about something new, it's important to be well educated on the benefits as well as the effort it will take to adopt this new tool. That's why we recommend knowing the answers to questions in section 1: these are the questions your Skeptic will be asking. You'll be able to convince them, but you'll need to put up a solid argument (bribes work too).

The "We've Always Done it This Way": This person is still sending inter office memos via email even though your whole company is actively using Slack. That's fine, they're also the ones that remember everyone's birthday and plan for cake. The thing is, when they are familiar with a software, they are committed to it deeply. They're resistant to change simply because they are comfortable.

The "We've Always Done it This Way" is going to be resistant just like The Skeptic, but you'll have to use a different method of convincing. You'll have to spend a little extra time showing them this new tool and explaining why it's better than the previous, beloved tool. They will ultimately see the light, just don't change anything else ever again.

While we recognize it's not super cool to put people into a box, sometimes personas like these can help you navigate the different personalities and objections you're going to face when introducing a new tool. It's better to be prepared!

Spreading adoption

When we were talking about how we implemented Remotion at Sesh, we mentioned that we had a small group use it first to test it out. This is key to spreading adoption.

First, you need at least one person to back you up on your decision. That means the two of you should be using the tool together and testing its weaknesses. This is going to help you answer the questions your naysayers will be asking. You also want to be confident in your decision. We can't tell you how many times we've gotten excited about a new product, started using it, and then realized it wasn't doing what we thought it would. Do a soft launch with your trusted teammates before you're ready to share with everyone.

Next you'll want to use it with a few more teammates. It's a good idea to start with The Early Adopter and The Naysayer if you have those on your team. They'll be quick to judge but also quick to adopt. Once you've proven that a handful of people will use it and like it, then it's time to go full steam ahead.

Introduce it to your whole team in person. Whether that means you're in a staff meeting, or in a 1:1, it's important that you're available to demonstrate the new tool and explain its overwhelming benefits. Your enthusiasm will translate to the team.

Once everyone is onboard, it's important to use the tool regularly with your team. This is the only way that you'll get people to adopt the tool. You need to show that you're using it regularly for them to realize they can get the same benefits you are if they use it regularly.

For example, if you want your team to start using a planning tool like Trello or Asana, you'll need to start by using it yourself. Make sure you're filling out your tasks and updating them, and using it in meetings to update the team with your progress. You can't expect people to use the tool if you're not using it yourself. Once they see your use case, they'll be able to apply it to themselves and start using it similarly.

Is it really that hard?

If you're like, gee, I just found (x) tool and wanted to show it to my team, do I really need to be that prepared? The answer is almost always yes. You may be in a position where you can dictate that the tool is to be used without pushback from finance/management/employees, and if so, that's half the battle, but what we're really talking about is adoption. You can have every single person install that new program on their computer, but the key is to get them to use it.

That's why it's important to have your key reasons/arguments, work with those who may be against it initially, and start with a small adoption with a smaller team before expanding. And, of course, use the tool yourself.

Do you have a new tool you're getting ready to use? Use this framework and we guarantee your team will be all over it.