Change is tough and stressful.  That shouldn’t be news to anyone, right?  And implementing a new marketing infrastructure, a CRM system, or new marketing processes to generate revenue are all pretty big changes.  So why is it that change management isn’t the first and biggest imperative for any project like this?  Well, because that would require, er, well, Change!  That’s not how most big technology or strategy projects are approached.  The whole “If you build it they will come” mentality abounds.

If we stop and think for a few minutes, though, you know that they won’t come.  Even if you make it a “top-down initiative” or involve everyone in the specs so it’s exactly what they want.  Why is that?  According to Switch authors Chip and Dan Heath, it’s not because people don’t want to change, it’s that they don’t have a clear path, an emotional tie and environmental reinforcements.  They argue that the logical side of a person’s brain is like a rider and the emotional side an elephant.  The rider will over analyze everything, but he can’t get the elephant to move in a direction the elephant just doesn’t want to do.  So you need to make a clear, simple argument for change that appeals to the rider while giving the elephant a good emotional tie to the change.  And all the while, you have to provide  the right environmental stimuli to make sure that the rider and elephant stay on track.

I’d recommend a full read of the book, as it gives a lot of great insight on how to do all of this with good examples along the way.  But here are a few thoughts I’ll provide for you very specific to a marketing automation or CRM implementation that might help your project today:

  1. Create clear, concise definitions of things like “leads,” “contacts” and “accounts.”  For example, in my days as a marketing ops director, I used to use “leads are a response to a marketing campaign.”  Of course, then you need to define a marketing campaign 🙂
  2. Create clear goals and outcomes that people can work towards and get excited about.  Generate $20M in marketing-influenced revenue is a clear goal that people can measure and work towards.  And if you can start showing progress toward this goal, people will get excited about getting there.
  3. Find examples and hold them up for the world to see.  In a large company, there are usually pockets that are ahead of others – that business unit you acquired that has already implemented their CRM or the marketing department that has been running some successful campaigns.  Find these examples and replicate them.
  4. Celebrate success and move past failures.  So many times we get caught up in what didn’t work and fail to recognize that doing so just provides reinforcement to the troops that the project will ultimately fail.
  5. Take a few small risks.  Let your teams try some new tactics and be okay with failing.  Don’t get caught like a deer in the headlights just because you don’t fully understand the tactic yet.  Just keep it under the radar.  For instance, one that I know always trips up marketing teams is implementing lead scoring.  Especially for large companies, they start thinking about all the stuff they don’t know instead of just trying something and seeing what works.  They don’t even have to show the lead score to anyone – just create the program, turn it on, and start measuring so you can see if you are even on track with your score.  You’ll learn a lot whether your program succeeds or fails.