The Hero’s Journey: A CRM Buyer’s Version

Hero's Journey: CRM Buyer's EditionMany iconic stories and movies, including Cinderella and Star Wars, closely follow Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, which was memorialized in Campbell’s book “The Hero With a Thousand Faces”.

The monomyth, or hero’s journey, was derived from observing the structure of many stories that were told over the course of human history.

The structure is alive and well. In fact, there’s an entire blog that’s devoted to mapping movies and TV shows to the hero’s journey.

The hero’s journey was pared down from seventeen steps to twelve by Hollywood script writer Christopher Volger in his excellent book, “The Writer’s Journey“. The journey looks like this:

The Hero's Journey

In this brief overview from a TEDx Talk, Pat Soloman explains the journey in detail and notes that the hero’s journey can apply to the workplace. He also mentions that the hero’s journey is like a roadmap.

What is the Hero's Journey?: Pat Soloman at TEDxRockCreekPark

The hero’s journey can be re-imagined in many ways and still fit the general structure that Campbell and later Volger assembled. The framework has been adapted to everything from brand storytelling to parenting.

People don’t always agree with re-imagined versions of the journey. There is very strong dissension by one commenter in the above linked-to brand storytelling post who writes, “This is absurd and pretentious. The heavy apparatus of Joseph Campbell hardly suits brand stories, which must fit a space the size of a post-it note and can hardly accommodate the narrative structures that Campbell was contemplating.”

Everyone, as they say, is entitled to their opinion. We weren’t dissuaded from risking an air of pretentiousness after reading the comment thread.

The CRM Hero’s Journey

In the case of buying CRM, I layered our seven step CRM planning and selection process along with past observations of the typical CRM buyer’s journey onto the twelve steps of Volger’s story telling process.

The interesting part is that it only took a few minutes to fill in the circles below. The equivalents practically leapt off the page at me. I included a subtle plug for our services in the Meeting the Mentor circle, as our offering just seemed to fit.

The following sequence could apply to just about any enterprise software buying journey. If everything goes well, the person leading the charge emerges as a hero or heroine — at least within his or her organization.

The Hero's Journey: CRM Buyer's Edition

Here’s one of many possible versions of the association between each of Volger’s twelve steps and the steps involved in buying & implementing enterprise software:

1. The Ordinary World: The hero as seen in everyday life

The CRM hero is focused on his or her main job responsibilities.

2. The Call to Adventure: The incident that begins the journey

The old CRM system has finally run out of legs. Or, there’s no CRM system in place and spreadsheets are no longer cutting it. Or, there’s a recently hired stakeholder who insists on a new CRM system. The CRM hero is called upon to investigate CRM systems.

3. Refusal of the Call: The hero hesitates to act

The CRM hero has already many important tasks to attend to and doesn’t have the time to research everything he or she needs to know to run a CRM planning and selection process.

4. Meeting the Mentor: The hero gains knowledge and confidence from a guide

An inside or outside person who’s been through the CRM buying and implementation process before provides knowledge and confidence to the CRM hero. Digital assets such as presentation and spreadsheet templates are the “lightsaber”.

5. Crossing the First Threshold: The hero commits to the journey

The CRM hero commits to a structured CRM planning and selection process.

6. Tests, Allies and Enemies: The hero faces trials while making friends and enemies

The CRM hero doesn’t make enemies, per se. But, he or she gets to meet and/or to better know a lot of people within the organization through the interview scheduling process. Some people are warmer to the idea than others. It takes a lot of effort to get on people’s calendars.


7. Approach to the Innermost Cave: The hero nears the center of the story

After requirements are gathered from stakeholders and representative end users, all the stakeholders gather in a room for a workshop. It’s a sort of “cage match”, as no one leaves the room until there’s consensus about the requirements and how they should be prioritized.

8. The Ordeal: The hero is confronted by the greatest challenge with enormous stakes

Identifying the shortlist vendors, educating them, scheduling presentations and getting vendors to demonstrate to requirements can be a challenge. Not all vendors want to follow the buyer’s buying process.

9. The Reward: The hero experiences the consequences of surviving the ordeal

The right CRM system is selected and implementation is planned. The non-selected vendor salespeople don’t give up easily. They may follow up with the CRM hero (or the third party consultant) for weeks.

10. The Road Back: The hero begins the journey back home to the ordinary world

The CRM hero has an ongoing role in the implementation. It could be a minor role or a major role. The prospect of returning to normal day to day responsibilities is now on the horizon.

11. The Resurrection: The hero is purified to reenter the ordinary world by experiencing one final moment of death and rebirth

The CRM system goes live. This is the moment of truth for the CRM hero.

12. Return with the Elixir: The hero returns with the prize to improve the ordinary world

The CRM hero returns to more normal day to day tasks. The new CRM system is widely adopted and considered to be a success.

Are you the CRM hero or heroine within your organization? Does this journey look like a roadmap you should follow?

Credit: James Robert Lay of CU Grow. Several elements of his blog post about business story telling were used in this post.

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