Here’s a tale from a successful small software house. They’ve around 200 customers, and operate on three continents. When making first appointments on the phone, conducting them in person, and responding after by mail, they like to use quotes their customers give them, saying how wonderful they are. They have amassed around 100 such quotes.
So, a rep has caught a suspect on the phone, is thinking of preparing for a meeting, or rushes to finish a proposal. How can they get access to the jewellery case of quotes to find their gem of credibility?
Well, all the quotes are held on a central server’s shared drive. Each has its own word document, named by customer name, person name and date. Unsurprisingly, with a hundred in there, it’s proving unmanageable. Someone fairly senior took it upon themselves to take action. Being technically proficient, they began to create an Access database. After a decent amount of work on it, they abandoned this idea, thinking it’d put off the rep users in the field. So someone more junior was tasked with creating a spreadsheet. But then the spreadsheet had a large number of cells left empty, exposing gaps in the ‘database’. Surely the sales people would fill these in…?
After all this time and effort, a solution is still far away. Every sales team I come across can talk you through a similar story of woe. Whatever the solution, it never involves the sales people having to input, and neither does it involve being a once-off project.