storywork Which comes first? The story or the work?

The story or the product?

Seth Godin raised this theoretical question (and gave an answer) in yesterday's post.

Today, in chatting with an MS sales rep re: the challenges of selling Microsoft CRM [CRM=Customer Relationship Management software], I had a real-world example staring me in the face.

I've been calling it Microsoft's "Cool Hand Luke" problem for a while now and this is no different.

"SalesForce," he says, "starts off a customer call with the F-18 cockpit view of your sales and marketing situation. It's a dashboard, there are lights. People get it."

"We start off with 'this is how CRM integrates into Outlook. We talk about features. It's a completely different approach."

Microsoft's CRM may be a superior product in many ways, but the company is having a hard time telling the story about it.

When I sold SQL Server 2005, I never started off with all the reasons why it was better than Oracle or DB2 or whatever. No, I said..."every presentation will start off with a screenshot or demo of Balanced Scorecard Manager (now Performance Point), because within 20 seconds, any executive in the room will say, "I want that! I NEED that!"

And they did.

Microsoft has the pieces of a great story. They just need to be woven together.