Sales and Silliness Part I

This is the story of a sales employee who refused to systematise her data on an ERP system. Her name was Jema. She was the star sales performer in her organisation. She always delivered her numbers, was extremely hardworking, and loved by everyone in office. Life was beautiful till two major casualties took place. One, she got a new boss. Two, that boss decided to install an ERP.

    The new boss was a stickler for systematisation of data. He was obsessed with data management. He had a background in knowledge management and came from a company that managed all their operations on ERP. There was no way you could talk him out of it. Nobody wanted to bell the cat. Eventually, the cat got the mouse, I mean the boss got his ERP.

      This is how the first session with Jema and ERP implementation started. For ease of narration, lets call the boss “B”. B knew that Jema was his key performer, who would finally give him his target sales. It was important to get a buy-in from her. B started with the standard ERP benefits . He claimed that it is a software package that offers convenience of managing all the business functions from a single platform. No need of going to different applications to process different requests. No need of saving data in different functional packages. Under one ERP “roof” you can manage Accounting, Warehouse Management, CRM, Human Resources, Supply Chain Management, Sales Management, and Website Design. 

        Jema thought all that the ERP did was to facilitate B’s life. He could keep a watch on all his employees and their doings from his system. She had a straightforward way of talking, didn’t mince her words and could never keep her objectionable opinions to herself. She had no patience for jargon and no time to invest in office etiquettes. She said “Boss, whats in it for me? For B, who was generally used to a very pliable workforce, Jema was a challenge. She would not accept his words unless he proved his methods and his systems.

          He pointed out to her that the selling module of ERP allows you to store all the addresses and contact details of your leads and customers. The system can send mails to the contacts, remind you of follow-ups and also keep a record of all transactions and communication that took place with that particular client. Red flags started flying in Jema’s mind. She didn’t want her leads on an open system, where other sales employees could see it. What if they pursue her leads and complete their targets. Putting up information about leads was out of question! Jema used to also stage manage her targets. She would meet her targets and never exceed them. She would keep the hot prospects to close in the coming month. That way, she always met her numbers. Showing hot leads on the system will give the boss a chance to question why she was not closing them. No way, this ERP was a ticking bomb ready to explode her well set-up office performance and the bonuses that came along. Something had to be done. She argued with B, said she will continue with her old ways, and left for a client call. 

            B was aghast with this behavior. He simply couldn’t understand how to convince her. Being from operations, he could not understand the sales mind. He looked up to Google. “How to sell ERP to your own employees”. He found a lot of literature and general gyan. But nothing that could convert a stubborn sales mind-set. He decided to focus on his other employees. The Accounts team who used Tally & Quickbooks were showing some resistance to shift to ERP and import all their data. He decided he will handle them first, and then get back to Jema.

              Jema in the meanwhile continued with her client meetings and steady account closures. She was as usual on target. She was a young ambitious girl and wished to climb the corporate ladder in the right way. She came early to office and was punctual on all her sales-calls. After meetings, she came back to office, emailed her prospects, did all the paper work, and then went home. She would often sit late and finish her correspondence to her clients. Her colleagues too followed the same pattern. They would often order a sandwich and finish making their sales orders, sales invoice, packing slips, delivery notes etc. She also noted down all pending cheques to be collected, reminders to be sent, and clients to be renewed. All this took a lot of time.  

                Lately she noticed that most of her sales colleagues were leaving office on time. They did not sit back late and also went for evening dates. She started feeling the pang. How could they manage work and have a life after office? She became restless and discussed with her fellow colleague. Her colleague said, ERP gave them all this time to spare. ERP generated their sales orders automatically, printed sales invoices instantly, made delivery notes, and gave a list of all the cheques that were paid, delayed, and bounced. The system reminded them about their follow-up emails, maintained past transactions, and emailed configured notes on set dates. 

                  Jema started thinking. She would definitely have loved to get more time with her friends, see movies, and take the weekend off. If ERP would give all this, then she was willing to follow the process. She went to B and said she was willing to be a part of the ERP brigade.

                    Her struggle with the software and its adaptation is narrated in the next blog, Sales and Silliness- Part II (coming soon).

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