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Say it Ain’t So Marc! Say it Ain’t So!

It was a busy Friday afternoon.

Our SaaS business is taking off. And with a number of  my sales staff taking off on Spring Break with their families, I was working deep, deep in the engine of the business – working the phones, taking calls,  following up on leads, reaching out to customers of our new online trucking software, thanking them for their business.

I was making notes in our CRM application – these were happy notes. I was being careful to make sure I looked into Salesforce, and into two other applications we have integrated into Salesforce, making sure that I was adjusting my message based on whether I was talking to a prospect, to a customer, or a prospective partner.

I was enjoying my Friday. Really enjoying my Friday – working in the Cloud, selling our Cloud solution. I was floating…

♫Rows and flows of angels’ hair

And ice cream castles in the air

And paper canyons everywhere

I’ve looked at Clouds that way!


“Murray… Murray,” I was interrupted.

“Oh…hi EG.”

“Ryan from Salesforce is on the phone and he wants to speak with you.”

“Okay, put him through.”

I was thinking it might be a follow-up call to ask me about how we are using Salesforce, how it is playing a central role in helping us transform our business. How we had transformed our business model from offering the traditional client server software to one that is a web-centric, a ‘software as a service’ business application offered on-demand to  small trucking companies and freight brokerages.

Or maybe it was for something more prosaic. We had just finished up our finance meeting that very morning and had just processed our annual payment to Salesforce. Perhaps it was a question from their administration people. We are a ‘middle age’ start-up, and while resources are tight we are guided both by our wisdom and knowing value when we see it. Yes, Salesforce is expensive, but it’s good value. And it’s at the center of our own operations.

Or maybe it was someone who was going to invite us back again to Dreamforce. Since Salesforce was so essential to our business, I felt it was very important that I invest in sending our operations manager down to the big annual event where she could gather further insight into how the Salesforce application could help our business. Where she could benchmark our usage against the way others use it.

The phone rang.

“Hello, Murray. It’s Ryan. I am calling on behalf of Salesforce”.

I could hear the din in the background. Having worked for an outsourced call center company for 6-years in a previous life, I recognized the distinct hum of a call center

“…I just wanted to confirm your address so we can send you a free package of information so when you are considering selecting a CRM that you might consider Salesforce.”

“Pardon me? What was that?”

“I need your address so I can send you a package of information so that you can consider Salesforce when you are choosing a CRM,” he said politely.


I dropped my hands from my keyboard. I stopped typing the note I was sending to one of my customers – a note I was typing in Salesforce.  I was in the application at the very moment I took the call.

“Well Ryan. It is quite a coincidence that you to call me at this time. You might find this a bit embarrassing unfortunately. I am writing a note in Salesforce as we speak. We have been using Salesforce for over two years. We are a big proponent of it. In fact, a lot our thinking about our business comes from the observations we made on the evolution of Salesforce over the past 18 years”

“Oh. I am sorry… I …”

“No – you don’t need to apologize. You are just doing your job. The job they tasked you with. And you are doing it quite well. You certainly sound professional. But you have been given a bad deal. You need to talk to your bosses. They, or your client Salesforce, has given you a bad number to call. If you are making a living based on commissions– you won’t make it with our company because we are already a customer of Salesforce”


“I mean it sincerely. Having been in call centers I respect the hard work of the frontline folks who do this. But you gotta tell your bosses – who should probably tell their client, Salesforce, that they really need to scrub their customer list from their prospect lists. And it’s even worse in this particular instance because the very application that you are selling helps prevents the very problem that you are now encountering – treating loyal customers like they are prospects. Doing this helps protect the brand. In fact it’s one of the very reasons why we use Salesforce ourselves. It is the same reason I have two applications open on my screens right this very moment. This will be embarrassing to Salesforce, I am sure. You have to let them know. Tell your bosses.”

“Okay sir. I will tell them. I am sorry.”

I got up from my chair and went to talk to my Marketing Director to share the story with him about this faux pas. I also wanted to confirm we aren’t at risk at doing this ourselves. I don’t want to make the same mistake. As I got to his desk he was hanging up the phone.

“I just got the weirdest call from Salesforce. A guy named Sam was trying to send me a package of information that would help us in choosing a CRM, but we already have Salesforce”.

I shook my head and walked back in my office. I turned off Joni Mitchell and put on the old Spike Jones video on YouTube.

♫You always hurt

The one you love

The one you shouldn’t hurt at all

Say it ain’t so Marc! Say it ain’t so!

You need to fix this.