I have a technology problem. Any time there’s a new product released, I’m there. I’m on ProductHunt every day, drooling over web apps, mobile apps, hardware, software — all it takes is a shiny product page and I’m hooked.
Look, more often than not, I’ve given into the temptation to pick up the latest and greatest new products. I want them bad enough that I can’t seem to say no. I do this for tablets, and laptops, Android smartphones…hell, I’ve been known to stare endlessly at unboxing videos just watching the new products being tried out for the first time.
I rationalise it. I think well, you know what, if I just had a new Apple Watch, I could get my fitness under control and turn into one of those oh-so-Instagrammable gurus. Deep down, I know that I could get fit just as easily with a pair of old joggers and a $5 stop-watch. The issue isn’t lacking the tools, it’s lacking the motivation to get off my ass, to stop eating crap and to make health a priority.
This is something that a few entrepreneurs have demonstrated to me. I’ve talked to founders and small business owners who have been convinced that a brand new e-commerce system or some plugin is going to take their business to the next level.
Or, more frequently, that moving their team onto Slack is going to save the whole fucking operation.
But here’s the truth. No new product is ever going to change your life, or turn your business into a winner.
The simple reason for this is that all products are just tools. Tools that we can use to entertain, educate or achieve productivity. But no tool will ever do anything if it’s not being used for the right purposes by the right people.
Half the time, when you think that a new product will change everything, what you really mean is that you’re struggling in your business with something difficult. An obstacle or a problem. And you don’t know how to solve it. So you’re hoping that throwing a shiny thing at it will make the issue go away.
When you’re considering an investment in a new tool for your business, you need to stop and ask yourself two crucial questions.
Is this new toy a way to distract myself from a problem?
Let’s say your sales team is screwing up, badly. They’re not bringing in leads, they’re not following up with leads and they sure as shit aren’t closing. Okay. That’s a big problem. You think to yourself, if you had a high powered CRM with all the bells and whistles, they’d be able to do their job!
Buzz. Wrong answer. If there are existing issues in your sales team, overall performance issues, then guess what. All a flashy new CRM is going to do will be give you a clearer picture of how screwed you are.
Can I solve the problem without a new toy?
Instead of trying to throw something shiny at the problem, is there something you can do at the base level, down at the roots, that will fix the sales team problems you wanted to blow money on? I can guarantee you, there is. It’s going to be training, it’s going to be learning how to manage that sales team effectively and hire the right people.
So when do you splash out on something new?
You do it when you can present clear, well reasoned examples of how that tool will improve your existing behaviours, processes and performance.
Me? When I get my weight-loss happening and I can prove that I’ve fixed my motivation issue, I’m going to go all-out on an Apple Watch so I can begin tracking every piece of data and learn from my incremental improvements. That’s my goal.
Your sales team? When you’ve improved their performance as much as possible with the tools you have, and you know your team is as good as they can be, that’s when you invest in that new CRM.
Because tools, toys and shiny objects don’t fix problems on their own. They just improve our problem solving abilities.
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SaaS products ruined everything online, or made it a million times better. Pick one. That’s the argument a lot of people are having. The argument stems from whether or not it’s better to own your products or services or — essentially — to rent them from a company that can choose whether or not you have access.
For me, it’s an easy pick.