Shaving the Sales Force Automation Bear

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In general, senior managers are not paid to solve problems; they are paid to think about the consequences of problems and then get other people to solve them.   However, many senior managers have had to solve problems at some point in their careers, and perhaps because they have risen through the ranks, they believe they are good problem solvers.  In my experience, very few are.  This is especially true when it comes to issues with Sales Force Automation (SFA).

One of my favorite Seth Godin posts is called “Shaving the Bear.”  If faced with Global Warming, do you really want to shave polar bears?  In other words, would we rather approach the global warming problem by focusing on symptoms (cooling the bears by shaving them) or causes (reducing greenhouse gas emissions)?  The idea is that we often solve for the wrong problem.

So let’s say you’ve already invested significant time and money in your SFA or CRM system.  Perhaps, as is often the problem, your vendor or consultant tried to put a duckbill on a beaver and call it a platypus.  Now you are beginning to sense that this puppy won’t quack.  (Actually baby platypuses are called Platypups or Puggles.)  What do you do now?  Start over?  Switch vendors?  Hire another consultant?  This is a common problem with SFA/CRM implementations.  SFA is a tremendous productivity tool and has advanced light years, but still may not meet your needs or perform to your expectations.  SFA systems can be complex enough that we don’t diagnose their problems correctly.  And if you can’t properly diagnose a problem, how can you assign the right resources to solve the problem?  How do you know if you’re focusing on the symptom or the cause (being too hot, or emitting too much greenhouse gas)?  Senior management doesn’t care because they are already shaving the bear.

If you’re interested in saving time and money, and you don’t particularly feel that bear-shaving is a productive use of resources, then stay tuned – the next eight posts will provide a framework of eight diagnostic management questions you can use to determine the source of problem(s) with your CRM or SFA system.  If you’d like the full article with all eight steps, please email me.  Also, please remember that bears are not very patient when being shaved.

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