Growing up, we had access to a lake where we did a great deal of fishing. In the summer months, we would spend weeks camping and one of the daily activities was to check the trotlines in the hopes a huge Blue Catfish was waiting for us that would make for a tasty dinner.

The problem is, you never know what you have until you work your way along the line. So, you start at one end and, hand over hand, work your way down the line. Every pull along the line, you’re looking and feeling for movement – any indication of what’s taken the bait.

On several occasions, we pulled up on a huge snapping turtle and they were pissed. An angry snapping turtle is quite dangerous and the best method for dealing with an angry turtle is to cut the line and let him be on his merry way.

What does this have to do with Salesforce? Since I drank the SFDC Kool-Aid, there’s a common theme when I speak to business owners who use Salesforce. It goes something like this:

THEM: So, what do you do?
ME: I create custom applications on Have you heard of Salesforce?
THEM: Yes, we use it
ME: Oh really, how’s it going?
THEM: We don’t really know what we’re doing and aren’t probably getting the value out of what we spend…

And we’re both nodding our heads because, well, it happens. Salesforce is a huge…”thing” that can do amazing, well…things. As you work with Salesforce, you are hoping for a big payoff. After all, you’re paying for it month after month and want to stop wondering if you’re right-side-up on the deal.

To be honest, most aren’t. Salesforce is a tool, but to be an effective tool, you have to have good data and that takes an organizational willingness to be good curators of the data. Some of the problem is User Experience (UX) and Salesforce is finally putting some real effort into making it easier to input data from whatever device you choose to use. It’s been a long time coming though…

Some of the issue is that Salesforce represents a new model to most businesses. The cloud can be scary and that’s not a fear that goes away quickly. Education and research are the antidotes for this stumbling block.

In the end, it will take a commitment to learn (or be told) how your business can use one of the most powerful and capable digital data-management platforms on the planet. Find someone who understands it and teach them about your business.

If you then decide that you’re dealing with a snapping turtle, cut the line and move on. At least you’ll have a better sense of your needs.