Joe Doe, the sales manager at Some Company, had lunch with his neighbor, John, who just happened to be the sales manager at Another Company. All John could talk about was the great results his company was realizing from their recent Salesforce implementation. To Joe, it sounded like just the magic wand his company needed. Joe performed a little bit of research, drafted a quick request for the expenditure and then bullied, cajoled and coerced his CEO, CFO, CMO and IT manager into granting him his wish. Joe promised that the new CRM system would make every process flow more smoothly, improve customer relations, allow his sales team to increase revenue and increase the company’s profitability.

As soon as he was notified that his project had been approved, Joe called a single vendor and placed his order. He was not entirely sure of just what features he needed, so he ordered virtually every option available. Since Joe was eager to collect his reward for having been the genius behind this exciting new system, he chose to have the new solution deployed company-wide in one fell swoop. Joe could not be bothered with details; whenever the vendor asked a question, Joe’s standard response was, “Just make it happen.”

Three months after the solution was rolled out, Joe noticed that one his reps were still maintaining a number of Excel spreadsheets. While passing by the break room on his way to a meeting with the CEO, he overheard three of his reps discussing how much they hated the new CRM system. (One rep even commented that he refused to use it at all.) When he arrived at his meeting, the CEO demanded to know when the additional sales and greater profitability would start — since these numbers had actually decreased slightly every month since the implementation. Joe went home that night bewildered. How, he wondered, could his plan have backfired? What did he do wrong?

 

Joe’s Five Biggest Mistakes

 

Based on the above scenario, you might be thinking that Joe is a complete idiot. Since he is a fictional character, it is possible to give him whatever traits or qualities desired. For purposes of discussion, assume that Joe is actually a very intelligent man with years of experience. However, he lacked the expertise to succeed in this situation. Here are his biggest mistakes.

  1. Joe bought into one of the most common myths surrounding software solutions — that just because it was a great solution for Another Company, it would be perfect for his own enterprise. However, Joe did not bother to question why it had worked so well for his neighbor’s firm, nor did he inquire precisely how the company had managed to implement it so successfully. Joe assumed that all he needed was to obtain approval for the purchase and employees would embrace the solution at least as well as they had at John’s company.
  2. Joe did not evaluate how different users performed their tasks. His experience was limited to sales, and while he understood quite well how those processes worked, he was lost when it was time to define the needs of marketing, customer service, accounting and all of the other departments that were impacted by the decisions he made. In short, Joe did not let the company’s business goals and strategy drive his decisions. He, therefore, did not suggest any changes to policies or processes that might have facilitated the adoption of the new system.
  3. Joe overwhelmed his employees. He deployed the entire package all at once — and since he had ordered tons of unnecessary features, it was quite a package for users to handle. Furthermore, he did not schedule adequate training time for users to help them make the adjustment or learn how to use the new system.
  4. Joe did not understand the importance of cleaning up legacy data before migrating it. When users saw “garbage” being spewed from the new system, they incorrectly assumed that the new system was somehow faulty.
  5. Joe did not secure the committed support of upper management and other department heads. Instead, he railroaded everyone into accepting his suggestion. Some resented his tactics and showed it by withholding adoption of the new system. More importantly, Joe had no one of greater authority to back him up and insist that it was “Salesforce or nothing.” With so many people “doing their own thing,” the atmosphere was one of different (often competing) realities that lacked cohesion.

 

To paraphrase an old saying, you might not be able to force a horse to drink, but you can help him find the water. Keep him confused, conceal the location of the water or only allow him to drink from ponds with water that is extremely distasteful — then you should not be surprised if the rebels.

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