Archive for July 2009
An adage from an old Chinese proverb says a picture is worth a 1000 words. It seems this is especially true with visual people. In my travels around customers, I’m finding that sales and marketing people tend to be visual – not all of them, but a great percentage. The same applies for management. That’s why graphs and charts are so popular.
This sunk home to me recently during a training session on ACT 2009. This was one of those sessions where the people in the room were somewhat reluctant about using ACT. Management said they had to use it – but that didn’t mean they were going to like it. One of their comments was “well, management isn’t going to look at this anyway, so why bother.” Here’s when things got interesting.
One of the people in the room had decided they actually did like ACT and found it very helpful in keeping him on track with the 20+ meetings they needed to handle every day. Yes – 20+. Wow, I myself would need something to keep me sane.
Training was going along ok, Some grumbling, some “gee, I won’t have time to do my work because I will be spending all my time doing data entry.” All the general comments of people who haven’t yet seen the value. No problem, we’ll get them there. Then, I got to the part of showing them the Dashboards. The dashboard I started with showed activities and calendar entries and one of the panels was a bar chart. Remember I said one of the people had been using ACT extensively. Well, his “bar” was much larger than everyone elses. By a lot. Now, this group was a very competitive group – typical for marketing and sales departments. When they all saw that their bars were shorter, they weren’t happy. It then became very obvious who was entering data and who wasn’t. At that exact moment, two of the partners walked in the room and saw the dashboard. They said was this always available – even on the web version of ACT. I said indeed it was – they both said, “well, this is what we wanted all along.” They could look at one place and see everything with out needed to go to a bunch of screens. Ok, now that meant management was indeed going to watch what was going on.
You can imagine what transpired after that. Everyone started using ACT – yes, it was in a competitive manner – but ultimately does anyone care why data is entered? No, the issue is get the data there. I chatted with my client a few months later and he said that was the catalyst that got them on their way.
With ACT 10.2, Sage published a really nifty plugin where you could build more customized dashboards. Now, I can build dashboards to show custom fields in the clients database so they can track not only activities and opportunities but things specific to their organization. The client I chatted about earlier in this blog sends me periodic requests for some more involved and exotic dashboards. They have fallen in love with the visual interpretation of data and how quickly they can see where they are with regards to products, states, country penetration, and all kinds of data tracking.
I’ve since started building custom dashboards for clients and it is indeed true that a picture is worth a 1000 words. Now, I’d love to take that adage to the next level and guage how much money the pictures are worth as well. More later. Note: cartoon courtesy of wikicommons.