A few weeks ago, I had a 1:1 with Don, a VP of our Go-To-Market function at our company. Our conversation was initially about the vision he had for the customer experience and how we on the Salesforce team could help. Still, it evolved to a more meta-conversation regarding how he advanced his data-driven agenda at the company in the past, which yielded him promotions and a "celebrity status" within the company.
In an organization with too many business strategist cooks in the kitchen and departments starting to develop red tape that would deter most leadership from even thinking about a vision, how did Don build a strategy and get people to buy into it?
I distilled a few ideas that I believe helped him move quickly and get things done.
Be empathetic: it goes a long way
Don observed that prospects that wanted a demo of our company's product had a poor experience on the company website.
The web-to-lead form asked for lots of information, which dissuades prospects from filling it out.
The prospects who did fill out the form were asked to send the same information again when they tried to schedule a discovery call with the sales rep assigned to them.
It's not a good look for the company when the prospect's first few interactions with them ask them to fill out the same information multiple times — all before they even talk to a rep!
Then, he had to care enough about fixing the problem for them by striking a balance between collecting enough information to know the customer, which isn't burdensome for them to fill out.
Ask for forgiveness later, not permission first
How would Don fix this problem plaguing every single prospect who went to our website?
After some thinking, he came up with a proposal to fix what he dubbed the "Poor Experience for the Customer" problem. He just needed to work with the right partner to get his proposal through.
In his mind, these were his options:
Have the internal Salesforce teams deliver on the proposal
Don had concerns with the internal Salesforce team taking on the work.
The internal teams were already bogged down with tons of mission-critical work across multiple business functions.
How would they have time to deliver his high priority project proposal? He didn't want to play escalation theater with the development teams and respected that developers were busy.
Go rogue: Source a Salesforce staff augmentation firm to do the work
Don realized there were some cons to this approach, too.
Circumventing teams internally to build on the side could be a political blunder.
Not to mention that eventually, he'd bring the POC to the development team to now own.
But he'd at least be able to solve the immediate business problem at hand.
He chose the rogue option, but at least he made a decision and had a plan.
Showing your work is better than talking about doing it
Eventually, he got a POC he liked from the staff augmentation firm, gathered the people who would are affected by the issue currently and would stand to benefit from a solution.
He then mounted his persuasion campaign in a powerful three-punch combo:
The problem statement
Don scheduled a meeting with all the Salesforce managers, Salesforce developers, admins, and Operations people in a single room. He had already sent the meeting agenda beforehand, so everyone understood the context of the meeting.
He was there to tell them there was a problem, but more importantly, why they should care.
"If you don't fix this problem, our prospects won't sign up. If some of them do sign up, the data will be terrible. If the data is terrible, it becomes 50% harder to do your job! Don't even get me started on the data quality initiative we'd spend months trying to clean up!"
Everyone was listening to what he had to say.
The proposed solution in Salesforce
Don then laid out the proposed solution and what it would take to solve it.
A live demo
He then demo'ed the solution for them, on the call. People ended up liking the demo. The Salesforce team could focus on higher priority tickets, and they would have a solution to a data problem that could have become much worse if it was left unresolved. Don laid out the next steps.
Why this approach worked
Had he just done the first two steps, the larger internal team audience would have been the "cooks in the kitchen" and thrown all their suggestions about how to fix the problem statement, which would distill the proposal into a bunch of half-measures that wouldn't solve the customer pain point. He didn't want that, which is why he wanted to show the solution.
Be incredibly personable
I'm not telling you to be someone you aren't. If you don't like people, so be it. But that's not Don.
His personality is incredibly infectious, and it's a point people make to new hires when they suggest meeting with him in a 1:1.
It helped reduce some of the 'repercussions' for going rogue.
Most organizations succumb to inertia simply because there are too many distractions and obstacles that cause people to lose their focus and energy.
In order to overcome those obstacles, you must have strong vision, a solid plan to move ahead, and most importantly, the determination drive to actually follow through.