With the holidays upon us, based on the amount of baseball gear that Santa will be bringing for my 9-year-old son (sorry, forgot to give a spoiler alert about the whole Santa thing), I assume that many kids will be unwrapping new sports gear over the next few weeks.
This made me think back to one of the things I saw over the past four summers coaching my son’s baseball teams – a lot of the new baseball gear that was left under the tree got opened for the first time when the team would meet for the first practice of the season. Sure, kids at that age grow fast and need new shoes and other gear replaced just about every season, but there are also the $300 baseball bats that find their way into the dugout.
Those were the things that tended to have an inverse correlation with player ability, and that made me think of all of the technology out there that gets bought for the sake of being bought, but doesn’t really get used to its full capabilities. How many times have you seen a kid playing an organized sport looking like a pro with the best gear money can buy, only to then see that the ability to execute the basics of the given sport just weren’t there? How many times have you seen expensive software or services get bought by a company but never really used?
Why is that?
The connection that I drew between these two concepts – the kid wearing the expensive gear but unable to play the sport and a company that buys technology but doesn’t use it – is the mistaken belief that simply buying something will make the people that use it any better at what they do.
The reality that I saw with every team that I coached is that the best kids on the team were going to be the best kids on the team regardless of whether they used a bat that cost as much as a car payment or just pulled one out of the team bag. These were the same kids who were the first ones on the field for practice and the ones that wanted to play every minute of every game. They worked hard, they were good at what they did, and they always wanted to get better. And they did what they did with the equipment they had.
Could better gear help these players perform at an even higher level? Absolutely. When you work hard and get better at something, eventually you are going to max out what you can get from the tools that you use to do your job. Put the expensive bat in the hands of your best hitter, it may help him hit three more home runs in a season. But put that same bat in the hands of the kid that ducks every time a pitch is thrown? The expensive bat is not going to produce those same three home runs.
I see companies buy Salesforce licenses all the time thinking that the tool will somehow make their businesses better just by its mere existence. It never does that, just like the color-coordinated batting gloves won’t make a kid hit like Ted Williams just by Santa having put them in a stocking. But for the companies that have a solid foundation of performance already in place, buying into a tool like Salesforce could make the difference between being really good and being a dominant force.
It’s all about understanding what goes into being good at something, whether that’s business or a team sport. What does it take to win? Throwing money at something you can buy isn’t going to do it for you – it takes a vision and a lot of work to get to a place where the best tools can help you perform your best. But once you’ve put a solid foundation in place, and your current tools and processes just aren’t going to get you to where you want to go, then it’s time to gear up for the next level. Maybe it’s time to put some Salesforce services on your holiday wish list?