Lessons Learned from Writing CRM or Die

Courtney and Chaz at Book Luanch

After writing my first book, Sink or Swim Faster: Making a Splash in Professional Services, I did not think I would write another book so soon, but then Covid hit and it seemed like it might not be such a bad idea if I was going to be stuck inside for a while. After letting all the feelings go from the first book, I was ready to tackle the second. This time around, I had a few ideas on how I wanted to do it differently:

  • Write with a friend;
  • Find a good editor;
  • Ask more people to review the draft sooner; and
  • Don’t try and format the book yourself.

Write with a Friend

It really is no fun living inside your head for extended periods of time. While writing, that’s kind of what you do. After my first book, I realized during the editing process as I was giving out copies of my drafts for people to read, that it really helped me to discuss the ideas in the book with another person while writing it. I had so much fear while writing my first book, I didn’t want to share it with anyone until it was pretty close to done. I definitely wasn’t going to do this the second time around. I found a great partner: Courtney Kearney. Courtney and I had started working together while I was at Cosential (now Unanet) and we really had similar philosophies on working with CRMs: from implementation to management, and automation. Not only do we share similar ideas, but she is as passionate as I am when it comes to managing a firm’s data to enhance customer relationships. Since we had a lot in common, outlining the book, discussing what would go in and what we should leave out became much easier. So grateful she decided to take this journey with me – it was definitely worth it!

Find a Good Editor

As I mentioned above, when I was writing my first book, I basically hired a line or copy editor to review my draft prior to giving it to some of my colleagues. Fear kept me from reaching out to more people and finding the specialists I needed! Not the second time around. For CRM or Die, I reached out to Karen Rowe, who I met at a networking event. Courtney and I read her book, Behind the Cover to help us structure our book. After reading Karen’s book, we had a great first draft, which made the first round of edits with her team much easier (the first round is what most editors would call a developmental or structural edit). After that round of editing, Courtney and I took the feedback and made tweaks to our draft. Next, we did the copy or line edit. During this edit, Karen and her team did corrections for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and a review of the overall sentence structure to make sure the content was as good as it could be. Since Courtney and I worked together on the book, it was great to have her review my content and vice versa during the entire process coupled with Karen’s editing team. The process of editing and discussing the concepts in the book brought more clarity than I would have ever thought possible. When I write my next book, I’ll definitely utilize Karen’s team again (if they’re available – they’re really good).

Ask More People to Read Your Draft Sooner

Do not be afraid to let people read your book even before it’s done cooking yet! I can’t stress enough how important it was to have Courtney and other colleagues read our draft during the editing process. It’s okay if your draft isn’t perfect, but working with others and getting their ideas can help you do a much better job of making sure key components of the book are discussed in a way that is clear to both readers familiar with the subject and those that may be a little newer to it. All of the questions we received and feedback on the draft during its various states were so key to making it the best it could be.

Don’t Format Yourself

After the writing and editing process, trying to format the book yourself is a headache waiting to happen. Since I had spent a lot of time formatting proposals in my previous life, I thought formatting would be a breeze. Never again. Courtney was kind enough to take on the formatting of this book through with Ingram Sparks Book-Building Tool but I think that she would agree that formatting after writing is a huge pain and it’s better left to someone that hasn’t been slaving away on content for months.

In Closing

If you have dreams and aspirations of writing a book, don’t hesitate to get started! There is nothing better in this world to have someone read something you’ve written and tell you how it’s helped them with a challenge they are facing in their life. It’s an amazing feeling and I hope you get to experience it!

I Just Published My Second Book!

Close up of CRM or Die

I am so excited to announce that I have written my second book with my close friend Courtney Kearney! 

The book is called CRM or Die: Manage Your Client Relationships or Perish and it is available on Amazon. Here’s the link to purchase it.

CRM or Die is about implementing, maintaining, and automating any Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system at your firm. It focuses on our experience in implementing CRMs and helping clients manage the systems they currently have in place. After you read this book, you’ll have all of our tips and tricks for making sure you select, implement, and maintain your CRM in a way that will be beneficial for your firm. Click here for more.

Oh, and did I mention all the free resources that come with the book? Click here and scroll down once you have a copy and you’ll be able to access all the free resources!

What Would Ted Lasso Say?

Ted Lasso Image

Every Friday, my husband and I look forward to getting our two-year-old son into bed so that we can watch Ted Lasso. I didn’t think I would be into this show, but after a few of our friends recommended it, we decided to give it a try. My husband is an avid Manchester United fan and is also pretty familiar with the Premier League, so it’s always interesting to have a discussion with him each week about how the episode reminds him of real players and real leadership situations. I have found myself really enjoying the additional context to Ted Lasso, but I’ve also found myself really enjoying Ted’s leadership style and a few of Ted’s more quotable moments. 

1. “Be a Goldfish.” Ted uses this line when he’s talking to one of his players after he makes a mistake. The reason he gives for the Goldfish being so happy is he has the shortest memory. We all mistakes and don’t we all wish we didn’t. I am definitely one of those people that can overanalyze a bit much sometimes when it comes to my decisions and actions, so keeping this phrase in mind makes me chuckle to myself just a bit when I start getting too wrapped up in the past. This humorous motto is a great reminder not to take our mistakes too seriously and to just let them go.

2. “It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field.” In season one, it’s amazing how much vitriol is slung at Ted from the stands, from the streets, from his team, and secretly from his manager. Despite the insults and negative attitudes, Ted pushes on while optimistically pursuing his dream of making the players versions of themselves. Although he’s a fictional character, I can’t help but imagine what it might be like to be a coach of a sports team and constantly having your decisions second-guessed and criticized in a very public way. Although it seems painful, Ted is never deterred by the public’s review of his performance, he remains focused on his purpose with the team: making them “the best versions of themselves.” 

3. It’s okay if people underestimate you. One of my favorite moments in season one is when the audience finds out that Ted has a hidden talent when it comes to darts. He uses this time to shine to the benefit of his boss. From time to time, I think all of us need to have our egos stroked, but I find it interesting that Ted only uses his talent to shine when it is for the purpose of serving another.

I know I can fall into the trap of taking myself too seriously sometimes and I’m glad that I have a weekly reminder from Ted Lasso that as I pursue some of my biggest goals, I don’t have to lose sight of having a little fun along the way. If you haven’t checked out Ted Lasso, I hope you might watch a few episodes and see if you can glean a few great insights as to how to have a little more fun as you play the game of life. I know I have.

Building Powerful SaaS Professional Services Teams

Building Professional Services Team

Being a Tampa Bay resident, I can’t help but be amazed at the stroke of luck we’ve experienced with our professional sports teams last year and now this year with Tom Brady successfully leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win. With some of our recent successes, I’ve been thinking about what it takes to build winning teams.

In business, we don’t have to typically worry about just one competitor, but many at the same time. Our performance last year may not be enough to keep our customers happy this year, and one small slip-up may mean a competing firm can get the upper hand and run away with our client. So how can we continue to provide great service year after year and build great professional services teams? In this blog, we’ll discuss five ways to build and engage powerful professional services teams.

  1. Hire Passionate Professionals – Some of the most successful members of professional services teams I’ve worked with are truly passionate about the clients they serve and they really believe in the SaaS product they are delivering (warts and all). These high-level performers are committed to their clients success as if it were their own.
  2. Create Engaging Learning Opportunities – High-performing professional services teams demand opportunities to help them learn more and grow. Typically, these teams are already aware of knowledge gaps and the training or skills needed to fill these gaps. A leader of a high-performing professional services team needs to listen to the team and look for ways to satisfy learning and development needs.
  3. Eliminate Mundane Tasks – Are your talented team members spending a lot of time on expense reports or other mundane tasks? Why? Could these valuable team members be spending their time helping clients with more complex challenges instead? If yes, look for ways to eliminate the tasks that can be outsourced so that your team can focus on what is most important: solving your client’s most complex challenges. In Steve Glaveski’s article, The Professional Services Firm of the Future, Glaveski offers great ideas on how to make the best use of some of the most creative problem solvers at your firm and not burn them out in the process.
  4. Fire Abusive Clients – Nothing can be more demoralizing than working with clients that really don’t appreciate your team’s time. If you’re growing a powerful professional services team, catering to a client that doesn’t understand the value your team brings is a waste of time. Many times, the clients that are the most problematic are not your highest paying clients. Don’t let an abusive client bring your team down. It’s better to break away from that client before you lose a valuable team member.
  5. Always Celebrate Success – Anniversaries, birthdays, project wins, and personal victories are all worth celebration. Nothing can erode morale faster than getting too busy to celebrate the little things and the big things.

Building a top-performing professional service team is key to successfully onboarding clients and increasing adoption. In order to help your clients get the most value they can after signing their initial contract for your services, make sure you are focusing on building the team that will impact that value the most within the first 90-days: your professional services team. By hiring the right professionals, creating learning opportunities, eliminating mundane tasks, firing abusive clients, and celebrating success, you’ll ensure that this critical team continues to help set your firm or product apart from your competitors.

Perfecting Practice

Gymnast on Beam

As the summer Olympics approach next year, many gymnastics fans are reminded of great American gymnasts that have inspired us with their dazzling performances during previous Olympic games. A few names that come to mind include Mary Lou Retton, Shannon Miller, and Simone Biles. Despite how easy these gymnasts can make each move look, there are hours upon hours of meticulous practice behind every movement. Although perfection can sometimes be achieved (Mary Lou Retton did it twice at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games), in gymnastics (and also in life) every time we get close to achieving our “perfect” goal, it seems like the mark gets pushed higher or further. For example, in 2006, the code of points for gymnastics changed and the perfect “10” was replaced by a point system that made achieving a perfect score impossible. Although some in the sport may not have agreed with the change, it did push gymnasts to achieve skills that in 2006 were almost beyond imagination. If we are always chasing the perfect score or the goal, then our happiness and progress can be limited. If we really evaluate our habits and how we practice our craft, whether that’s gymnastics, professional services, or customer success, then we really can aspire to new heights than we ever thought possible.

Angles and Inches: The Difference Between Sticking a Landing or Falling on Your Face
Many times when gymnasts are learning a new dismount from the uneven bars (or any event really) they fall – a lot. Over time, the gymnast learns the difference between the pain of a hard landing and the joy of “sticking it” relies on how early or late she lets go of the bar.

In my professional life, I’m continually reminded of how it’s not the big strategic initiatives that lead to the biggest results. It’s being precise and diligent in the day-to-day that ultimately pays off in big ways. In Atomic Habits, James Clear states, “If you can get 1% better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.” I’ve found this statement to be incredibly inspiring. If I’m not getting the results I want, I start looking at my habits. When I start paying attention to my time and habits, it becomes crystal clear why I’m not hitting my goals (for a little more about managing your habits, check out this recent webinar I did with Courtney Kearney).

Practice Like You Mean It
If you’ve ever watched competitive gymnastics on TV, you’ll always see a gymnast who has built a routine before the routine. Before the gymnast solutes the judge and begins to perform, there is a system of chalk application, water, spit, more chalk, and a run-through that involves mimicking key elements of the routine. These habits get the gymnast in the right mindset to deliver the routine they’ve practiced thousands of times.

How often do we apply the same intensity to our professional performances? Especially in our current work-from-home environments? What habits do we have to get us in the right mindset for work? What habits do we have while working? Are they working for us?

Recently, I noticed my hours were getting longer, but it seemed like my productivity was dipping. I began examining my time and took a deeper dive into my habits. I noticed that I wanted to make some improvements so I downloaded a habit tracker and have seen drastic improvements in areas that I have long been trying to improve. If you’re curious about what kinds of apps are out there to help you with this, check out this post from Life Hack. I’m starting to see real progress and that’s empowering. I’ve wanted to spend more time learning Spanish – but it seemed like I never had enough time. One of the suggestions in the book is to spend two minutes on a new habit. At first, I thought this was a joke. But I have to say, after buying a Spanish workbook and committing to a two-minute exercise a day, I’ve noticed my vocabulary is increasing quite a bit.

It’s Not About Falling It’s About How You Get Back Up
During competitions, it’s always interesting to watch a gymnast when she falls while performing a routine she’s performed and visualized performing perfectly so many times. There is that moment of disbelief. Falling isn’t what she expects when she’s been chasing perfection for so long. With that fall, an elite gymnast knows that mistake just took her out of medal contention. How a gymnast handles that moment speaks more of her habits and character, than the moment when that same gymnast lands the perfect double layout somersault.

How do we handle our blunders and imperfections? Do we have good habits for working on them? Recently, it’s become clear by supportive feedback from my fantastic colleagues and loving husband that I am a perpetual apologizer, and it kind of annoys all of them (and me because it annoys them). I found using a replacement model to squash this habit has been the most effective. In Maja Jovanovic’s TEDx talk, she gives many great examples of ways to replace “I’m sorry” with expressions of gratitude, or more affirming statements. It’s definitely a hard habit to break, but I’m making some progress with this one.

In Summary
“Progress not perfection” is a good slogan to live by, but I’ve found “perfecting my practice” is a better one for improvement in my professional life. By focusing on my habits, I’ve found the biggest opportunity for growth and advancement towards reaching my goals – no matter how they might change.