A great business process re-engineering story hiding in a sales book

New appraoch to cold calling

I read Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com by Aaron Ross last night and came away truly impressed by the thought that had gone in the sales system he developed while at Salesforce.com. I’ve spoken quite a bit in these pages about Salesforce.com from the standpoint of the incredible force for integration it has become in the world. As a the reigning most innovative company in the world per Forbes and a leader in the cloud technology space there is plenty to talk about just from an innovation and capability standpoint. However, as I was running through some of the documentation they provide to enable partners I found a reference to Predictable Revenue and decided I’d buy the book. I’m always interested in people that are putting forward a system or method to doing things and I was curious about what I’d find between the covers.

Ten minutes later it was on my kindle and I was off and reading into the wee hours.

You may wonder why a sales post is appearing in a blog dedicated to organizational performance. It is here because the book is worth reading by anyone interested in how to drive organizational performance. The story may be about sales, but the substance is about developing a systems approach and implementing it with people, processes and technology. If you like re-engineering stories like Reengineering the Corporation: Manifesto for Business Revolution, A (Collins Business Essentials) or The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement you will like this story.

Aaron talks about his own disappointment as the CEO of an internet company which landed him in a sales job at Salesforce.com after running through more than five million dollars in venture capital. One of the most interesting things he talks about is the sense of empowerment he got from essentially being allowed to innovate on the job. This jibes with things I’ve read by Daniel Pink including my post about “Drive” where I describe the need to empower your people. Aaron decided quickly that he wasn’t going to succeed using the typical method of cold calling target companies and beating the gatekeepers into allowing him to talk to decision makers and then hammering them into taking delivery of the product. It simply was getting him nowhere fast.

Instead he decided to focus on finding the right people to talk to with customers that actually wanted his product. He talks about trying to find a match between your solutions and customer requirements and his approach to the roles and processes used for demand/lead generation is something everyone in sales should read. He breaks down the entire sales process from demand management through fulfillment explicitly including coverage of people, processes and technology; something anyone reading this column should be familiar with. I think too often people approach sales as a mystical area where sales gurus sell ice to eskimos and everyone else is stuck cold calling people that would rather dodge traffic on the beltway than talk to you. Interested in learning how to stand up new processes in a rapidly evolving organization? This is a great book on how to get it done and if you aren’t careful you may learn something about sales while you are at it.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

3 ways to ensure your process isn’t the enemy of organizational improvement

The world is becoming a more process-centric place and to a large degree, rightfully so.  The wide acceptance of standards around processes for organizations, specific types of interaction, and data exchanges has, in general, lifted the quality of the goods and services we receive from most organizations on a daily basis, while reducing the cost.  Within many of these organizations, the ones that have grown and matured are the ones focused on the care and feeding of these processes, and the services they support. Unfortunately, in some cases the pendulum has swung too far.  The focus on process has become an anchor dragging on organizational agility and performance.  Is your organization too focused on process and not enough on performance? Here are 3 quick ways to check the pulse of your process-oriented organization:
Check your outcomes: Performance management systems are critical to understanding how your organization drives performance and spotting areas for improvement. Make sure that your performance management system is truly measuring the performance of the system, including outcomes. Knowing that 99% of transactions were completed within a service specification is great.  Knowing that 99% of the customers of that service were happy with it is even better.

Check your peers: Having a mature and well understood process is great.  However, as time moves on you need to keep an eye on innovations within your peer, and near peer organizations. Nobody wants to be sitting on top of a process that is repeatedly, accurately, and steadily increasing the lag between your performance and that of your peers. Understanding where other organizations are succeeding, and developing an ongoing process for accommodating process innovation is critical to maintaining organizational performance while you maintain your process orientation.

Check with your people: One of the first places you will find out about a lagging or underperforming process is at the water cooler. Unfortunately, if you aren’t there when the conversation happens, you may miss a great opportunity to change course and intercept a failing process before it impacts organizational performance. It is critical that an internal feedback loop for processes be in place and that process innovation be a part of organizational culture. Don’t be afraid to allow employees to provide input into your processes. After all, hopefully these are your foremost experts in these processes.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.