Picking a CRM: The Shackles of Fantasy (Part 1)

Last week I met with a company to discuss their transition into a full-featured CRM (Customer Relationship Management) environment. Currently, they’re primarily using Act and pen and paper to track their thousands of contacts. Obviously, this is unacceptable. Post-it notes and napkins aren’t exactly efficient.

One of the great fantasy movies of all time courtesy of Wolfgang Petersen. Copyright Warner Brothers.
One of the great fantasy movies of all time courtesy of Wolfgang Petersen. Copyright Warner Brothers.

Their story is a typical one: for years, they’ve been meaning to step into a CRM – to move forward into a new age of efficiency and clarity – but they’ve never been able to pull the trigger on any solution. Like most organizations, they’ve been paralyzed by two competing fantasies – one of idealized success and one of catastrophic failure. The fantasy of failure is an easy one to understand: what if they step into a problematic system that ruins their company as whole? (After all, fear of commitment is not unique to 30-something year-old bachelors) Fortunately, this distopian fantasy is not hard to overcome, we deal with it so often in our everyday decision-making that we can see it for what it is – a phantom materialized by simple fear.

Fortunately, this distopian fantasy is not hard to overcome, we deal with it so often in our everyday decision-making that we can see it for what it is – a phantom materialized by simple fear.

The fantasy of success, however, is much harder to pin down. In fact, it is this delusional idealism that has been plaguing this company the most. Every time they’re about to choose a system to implement, they start comparing it to this utopian fantasy. Sure, this CRM can track my contacts and how I’ve communicated with them, but it doesn’t plug directly into my phone system; Or Salesforce is great for tracking most of the process, but does it sync with my coffee maker to make me coffee once a lead has been successfully converted. The more time they spend thinking about the solution, the more ridiculous the utopia looks.

So, how does someone break free from the shackles of fantasy? Well, like everything, I think the trick is to think logically. In Part 2 of this post, I will break down how I would organize my thoughts in order to make an informed decision on choosing the right technical solution (in this case, picking a CRM).