The Hero’s Journey: A CRM Project Manager’s Version

Many iconic stories and movies, including Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz, and Star Wars, closely follow Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, memorialized in Campbell’s book “The Hero With a Thousand Faces.”

Business hero

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

The structure is alive and well. Many movies and TV shows can be mapped to the hero’s journey.

The hero’s journey was pared down from seventeen steps to twelve by Hollywood scriptwriter Christopher Vogler in his 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 reimagined in many ways and still fit the general structure that Campbell and later Vogler assembled. The framework has been adapted to everything from brand storytelling to parenting.

The CRM Project Lead’s Hero’s Journey

In the case of buying CRM, I layered our CRM planning process along with past observations of the typical CRM buyer’s journey onto the twelve steps of Vogler’s storytelling process.

Interestingly, filling in the circles below was a fast process. The equivalents practically leaped off the page.

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 their organization.

The Hero's Journey: CRM Buyer's Edition

Here’s one of many possible versions of the association between each of Vogler’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 primary job responsibilities, which may have nothing to do with sales, marketing, or customer service.

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, a recently hired stakeholder insists on a new CRM system. The CRM hero is called upon to be the Project Lead — the person who gathers requirements and investigates CRM systems.

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

The CRM hero already has many important tasks and doesn’t have the time to research everything they need to know to run an end-to-end CRM planning, selection, and implementation process.

CRM Project Lead Juggling Balls

They resist taking on another project and adding to the number of balls in the air.

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

Someone who’s been through the CRM planning, vendor evaluation, and implementation process before provides knowledge and confidence to the CRM hero.

Mentor with CRM Hero

Template evaluation and analysis tools are the “lightsaber” in this story.

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

The CRM hero commits to following a structured CRM planning and selection process successfully used by other organizations.

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

In this story, the CRM hero doesn’t make any outright enemies.

However, some people may have strong opinions about the vendor solution they prefer.

The hero gets to meet and/or to better know many people within the organization through the interview scheduling process — some of whom are warmer to the idea than others.

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.

We jokingly say this step is a like a “cage match” — no one leaves the room until there’s consensus about the requirements and how they should be prioritized.

CRM Workshop "Cage Match"

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

It can be challenging to identify the shortlisted vendors, inform them of detailed requirements, schedule presentations, and get them to gear their demonstrations to the requirements.

Not all vendors want to follow the buyer’s buying process.

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

Ultimately, the right CRM system is selected, an implementation company is hired, and the implementation is planned.

Considerable work is still ahead.

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

The CRM hero often has a role in the implementation process. It could be a minor role or a significant role.

The prospect of returning to normal day-to-day responsibilities is now on the horizon.

Returning to the ordinary world is a more near-term possibility the hero gets help with the implementation part of the journey.

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 a pivotal moment 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 their regular day-to-day tasks.

The new CRM system will be widely adopted and considered successful if everything is done correctly throughout the journey.

While you, as the CRM hero, may not be Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star, we are all heroes in our own stories — in our personal and often our business lives.

Is connecting the Hero’s Journey to an enterprise software investment a stretch? I’ll let you be the judge.

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