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Joe Montana Speaks at Dreamforce on Creating Success

This year’s Dreamforce was filled with a ton of sessions, interesting demonstrations and exciting announcements.  But, for me, there was one speaker who was particularly interesting and that was Hall of Fame former 49er quarterback, Joe Montana.  Maybe he was so interesting to me because I grew up in a family of San Francisco natives who were diehard 49er fans, or maybe its because the stories he told were captivating and the points he made were so true.  Either way, I enjoyed his talk and thought I would share my take on it and how it applies to being successful with Salesforce.

The session was sponsored by Adobe Echosign and the description went: “In 1978, the San Francisco 49’ers ended their season at 2-14 – one of the lowest in the league. Rather than sticking to the status quo, the team reinvented themselves to edge out the competition and win their first Super Bowl. Creating success came through leadership, calculated risks, and having the right tools at hand. Join us to hear from Joe Montana himself, as he shares his experiences on building a winning football team, and how that can be translated to winning in business.”

To Montana, the keys to creating success involve: 1) Preparation, 2) Work Ethic and 3) Trust.

#1 – Preparation. On preparation Montana described how critical it was for each individual and the team as a whole to focus on the fundamentals.  We’ve all heard that “practice makes perfect” but it is much more than that – focus on getting the basics right. For Montana that meant precision on where he threw the ball to ensure the receiver didn’t lose momentum, it meant calling plays where they could gain 5 – 6 yards, making steady progress towards to end zone rather than trying for that “Hail Mary” pass.

In business, to me, those fundamentals mean making sure your people can focus on the core part of their jobs by ensuring that Joe Montana at Dreamforceyour operations are smooth.  If employees spend too much time chasing down information or pulling data or content together from various systems to do their job, that’s wasting their talent, time and your money.  When employees are using applications that are not user friendly, that take up too much time in the workday, it holds them back from shining in their role.

I’ve used a lot of applications over the years and what drew me to Salesforce was its ease of use, availability on any device and its potential to become the platform, a modern platform, for running a business.  But, just like with any application that you can customize, there is danger in making it over complicated or adding in too many bells and whistles in the beginning. When I work with clients just starting out my mantra is always to ‘keep it simple.’   Just because you can add in all those validation rules, required fields or download a myriad of apps doesn’t mean you should.  Carefully consider the user experience and balance that with business rules, business value and any past issues.   I could imagine Montana would say: focus on getting the fundamentals right first.

#2 – Work Ethic.  Montana asked the audience whether we thought there was an “i” in “team,” a familiar refrain, that the majority responded as you would expect: “no.”   Montana shook his head and responded that in terms of work ethic, there is absolutely an “i” – an individual responsibility to the team.  Each person needs to strive to be their very best and that will contribute to a team’s success.  He told a story about how in practice, Jerry Rice would run every pass he caught to the end zone while the rest of the team would roll their eyes and sigh — it would extend the practice and they wanted to be done.  But, Rice broke records for the most receptions, touchdowns receptions and yards for a wide receiver, helping his team win Superbowls.  It didn’t matter that it was “just” practice to Rice – he still gave it his all.  This is the same in business, or any aspect of life.  Giving it your best and working hard helps everyone win.

So, how do I translate this to your instance of Salesforce?  To maximize and ensure success for your Salesforce org, you need a team of passionate people, each pulling their weight. First, your implementation partner needs to be a true partner that puts your success at the forefront.  A good partner will take the time to understand your business, leverage its experience with other clients and knowledge of the platform to bring best practices to the table and help you define and realize a winning roadmap.

Second, you wTeamworkill need to set up a team, whether it’s a full Center of Excellence or a three person Steering Committee, you should have representation from both IT and the business. This team should have authority to make some decisions and budget.  The job of the team, as a whole, is to stay current on new features, develop a vision for how Salesforce can help solve some of your business problems, and prioritize and plan releases of enhancements and additional user training, staying on top of adoption.  Each individual on the team should have a specific role to play that, when added up, ensures the team as a whole is able to accomplish its job. Perficient has helped customers get teams established as well as worked with them.

#3 – Trust.  Montana finished his talk with discussing the importance of trust.  He had to trust that his team members were memorizing the plays – that when he threw the ball, his receiver would be where he was supposed to be.  He had to trust that the offensive line would protect him as best they could.  He had to trust that everyone was preparing for the next game by watching the movie reels.

The same goes for us in business.  Every company is made up of teams of individuals.  We have to trust in our teammates and make sure that we are trustworthy.  To me, trust often comes back to communication. With Salesforce, this is an easy correlation: if you aren’t yet familiar with, then check it out. Through you always know the status of your instance and when the next release is coming.  The same should go within your organization.

Build into your instance a way for users to request changes or enhancements and for them to be aware of the status of their request.  We have built release management apps for our customers leveraging Ideas, Cases and Custom Objects for these purposes.   Then, plan on a regular schedule of releases – whether that is once a month or once a quarter and then follow through with it with advance notification and training.  This will build trust and enhance adoption.

The bottom line is that Montana’s recipe for success is no secret; it’s not ground breaking news. But, preparation, having a strong work ethic and building trust are definitely essential ingredients to creating success in any aspect of our lives and its good to be reminded of them.  So, how do you think your Salesforce fundamentals measure up?

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Jenn Mertens

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