Every year, we spend thousands of dollars on software to help run our businesses better, and every year, we find ourselves wondering, “am I getting all the value I could be out of these platforms?”
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At IMPACT, we’ve got more tools and software subscriptions than I can count on two hands: HubSpot, Slack, JIRA, Tallie, PandaDoc, 7 Geese, Zenefits, Basecamp, Creative Cloud, Zoom, to name a few - and those are just the ones I use daily!
What I’ve realized as I’ve worked with them is there are a few universal principles for getting the most out of organizational tools, whether they’re for marketing, sales, HR, or other functions.
1. Beware of Sales Utopia
Before you even purchase a tool, make sure you’re mindful of what I like to call Sales Utopia.
Sales Utopia is the mystical place we get to right before we purchase a tool.
We’ve read all the case studies and watched all the demos. A beautiful picture has been painted for us when an ideal fit company uses the tool perfectly.
Let’s use HubSpot as an example.
If you watch a demo of HubSpot’s marketing platform, you’ll see the tools being used in an ideal situation. You’ll see some perfectly crafted landing pages and emails, some super sleek workflow automation, and all kinds of examples of companies getting more traffic, leads, and sales with the tool.
It’s utopia -- but unfortunately, for the majority of real-life companies, it’s not real life.
Is this wrong of sales teams to do? Of course not! This is what demos are for! To show you the potential of a tool.
The problem is, it’s easy to buy into the idyllic picture that gets painted for us in the sales process and immediately start to dream about all of the ways we’re going to use this new tool to take our team to the next level.
The difficult part is what comes after the purchase...
2. Trudge Through the Implementation Swamp
If you’ve bought into the Sales Utopia of a tool and pulled the trigger to purchase it, you’re probably pretty excited.
I’ve seen all of the amazing things this tool has done for other people, imagine what it can do for me!
But when you log in for the first time, things aren’t quite as pretty as they were painted for you before you bought.
The user interface feels clunkier, or isn’t quite as user friendly as you thought.
You start to set things up only to realize that there are functional limitations or there’s a lack of customizability to get the tool to do what you want it to do.
I know this feeling all too well, as I’ve walked through it with many a client.
When you get access to your HubSpot Marketing portal for the first time, it’s a blank slate. And by blank, I mean blank. Nothing is set up for you, and there’s a lot of setup tasks you have to do before you can ever use any of the tools within the platform.
Some of the seemingly simple setup tasks can get complicated depending on what other systems and tools you’re using and trying to integrate with.
Once you’ve gotten over the back-end setup hurdle, it’s time to learn how to actually use the platform. You saw the demo, they made it seem super easy so you jump in and start creating a workflow.
But when you get in there you realize it doesn’t work like you thought it would, or you can’t do exactly what you wanted to. The frustration starts to set in. Toto, we’re not in Sales Utopia anymore.
Many of the HubSpot clients I start working with are somewhere in the Implementation Swamp. They either just jumped in and feel like they immediately got stuck in the mud or have been trudging for a while and are tired, lost, and wondering whether they should give up or not.
We thought this tool was going to take our marketing to the next level, but it feels like we’re just giving money away every month. I’ve heard this lament too many times.
You too? Don’t worry, it’s time to conquer the swamp.
How Do YOU Find Success?
Now that we understand the common hurdles to success with organizational tools, it’s time to talk about how to get out of the swamp and into real life success.
Here are my top three strategies for conquering the Implementation Swamp and achieving real life success with the tools you use:
Educate Yourself: this might be presumptive, but in my experience almost every tool has a team of people creating educational content around how to use the tool. It may seem obvious, but if you don’t spend the time educating yourself with tutorial videos and education content, you’re setting yourself up to get stuck in the mud. PS - Google is your best friend.
Think Outside the Tool: tools are tools. They’re not strategies. If I start hammering nails into things without a strategy creating around what I’m building, it’s not going to matter whether I’ve got the best hammer in the business, I’m not going to get the results I’m looking for. Make sure you are using tools to execute on your strategies (and ultimately to achieve the goals you’ve set for your team), and not the other way around.
Own It: one of my biggest pet peeves when I watch people purchase tools is the mentality that the buying of the tool is going to make them better at what they do. Yes, tools should ultimately help you do your job better, but you have to take ownership of what you’re doing, and not do things like use the tool’s limitations as an excuse for why you’re not executing like you could be.
Want to hear more about these strategies? I’ll be sharing them at IMPACT Live in August, and I’d love to see you there!