If you think people are the “soft side” of business, then you may experience difficulty implementing your change agenda.
I understand the concept of organizational excellence, where people can be inserted and removed without impacting the team effort. That works for New England Patriot’s Coach Bill Belichick, but most of us have seen ourselves and we are no Bill Belichick.
That theory works from the premise of keeping a factory line moving, a model where movement will occur whether or not people keep up with it. But try installing a new software system or any type of technology without addressing the people who will be asked to use that technology to ensure success. When people are forgotten in this scenario, the technology becomes a flash in the pan and gum on the shoe of progress.
One company with which I worked was determined to implement a sales CRM program, despite the warning that I provided them. First of all, their systems and computers were from 1982. Second, the sales guys saw absolutely no value in putting all of their detailed custom information in a system that was accessible by every other sales person.
Knock, knock. Who’s there? A competitive top sales performer. Who? The person who would rather die than give away their client information.
The only advantage to implementing this particular CRM system involved the reports that would roll up the line to leadership so they could create impressive Powerpoints and deliver good summary sales information. Leadership needed the system, but it was presented as a “sales tool” that would drive sales rather than a report generator that could provide excellent information.
While the leaders saw the value, the sales team knew that instead of having feet on the street they would lose time sitting in front of a computer screen tick-marking visits and writing things like, “Saw Bob. Interested in a deal in the next year.”
What would have made this system work? Well, start by finding value for the people who are going to be asked to use the information. In other words, tie the “tick-marks” to bonuses or pay-outs. Find a reason that a sales person would find enticing.
Next, be honest about the reason for the system. If it’s to deliver better reports, then share why those better reports are important.
This company spent several million on a system that never produced. Can you imagine the number of sales people and leaders they could have hired for that amount?
Technology should never be presented as the driver of sales. People are the driver of sales. Technology is a valuable tool that could save time and add value if implemented, but if the sales team doesn’t really want it — especially the top producers — you are pretty much screwed to the wall. And you’ve wasted valuable time and money.
If you want people to do stuff, call me. Or listen to someone in your office who seems to be able to get people moving. Technology is like a hammer at a construction site. If not picked up by the person willing to work, it will sit there and rust.
As will the company which fails to motivate the right part of that equation.