I have just returned from my first time visiting St Louis, Missouri which I visited for the GPUG and CRMUG Summits. Fortunately for me it is not a requirement to know geography when boarding an aircraft, as I had no idea where St. Louis was. If the person next to me had said it was a 4 hour flight I would’ve believed them, as I really did not know where I was going. In fact I could not even pronounce the name of the city (I was referring it to St Louie – but was clearly corrected and told that there was no silent “s”)!

Summit is a very unique event that is run by users, for users. Making the content completely controlled by users. Many presentations are delivered by end users and the users pay to be there. Presenters like myself are only invited to be there because users are interested in what we have to say – so if there’s no interest then we do not get invited back.

Users like to hear from users. People trust other people. The users of ERP and CRM solutions want to hear from real people, doing real things and learning from their experiences. This leads to an interesting dynamic where not all presented sessions are slick, smooth and professionally delivered. The breakout sessions can be clunky, interrupted and interactive – but no one complains because they are not there to be entertained but to learn.

Customers hate to be sold to. But they love to learn. People like to know where others have made mistakes and that nobody is perfect. Businesses have no issue with spending money when it adds to productivity, cost savings or just a better way of doing business. But just don’t try and sell to them.

In one of my presentations this year I decided to do something different that was not a demo or a sales pitch. I decided to present exactly how ‘the eOne CRM, ERP and website’ all hang together to run our business. Of course this is somewhat self-serving in that we use ALL our own products to make our systems work. In this session I showed a real transaction progressing through the eOne systems. We used a real login to the website, processed a real order, used a real credit card (had to reverse it later!), showed how it lands in instant reporting, showed all the integration points to CRM & GP, showed how CRM data is displayed to end users back in our website, etc.

The reaction from the attendees was fantastic as they had just seen something real that worked – warts and all. I highlighted the things we need to improve and where we are behind. They loved that most. I was able to point out the uniqueness of their business – how with GP, CRM and eOne tools they could build specific super ERP.

So while attendees did not leave this session with all the answers – they left with ideas, challenges and a vision of where they can get to and that clever things are possible. Multiple attendees have reached out to me since the event to ask questions and bounce ideas. They were inspired. Not because I showed them anything amazing but because we kept it real, we showed them things that were real and they saw it was doable and not just a sales spin!

So a big thanks to GPUG and CRMUG for allowing us to be real and for running an event that clearly people want to attend. While we run a business that relies on Skype, join.me webinars, emails and phones to communicate – there is nothing more effective as talking face-to-face, building relationships and friendships with real people!

Myself, like many companies, need to learn from this experience and take the concept of learning from others, showing real solutions and incorporating this further into our marketing and sales process.

All the best,
Martin Olsen