OK, so we’ve talked about some of the hidden pitfalls of driving real process improvement in sales and marketing. When we last visited our (process) hero, we saw how stepping up and taking ownership of a process can go a long way to ensure that activities will be continuously optimized.

But now you’re saying, “What do you mean it’s not all about me?”

The Situation: “This process is doing just fine. In fact, I’ve been working hard lately to make my part in it easier and easier. Things are running pretty smoothly as far as I can tell.”

Sez you. But how are things going for the customer of the process, the person for whom the process is supposed to be designed?

Here’s a great example I run across a lot – marketing produces leads that lack the info sales needs to pick up the phone and make a confident and informed first touch. No ill intent there, but over time, demand managers tend to assume they know what reps need, so they either fail to check in with them periodically or they don’t act on the feedback they get.

Guard against optimizing just for the doers of a process; switch your focus to understanding what quality means to the customer (whether internal or external), and chase that. These approaches can help:

  • Identify the customers of the process, and meet with them to understand what a quality outcome looks like from their standpoint. Even if it’s someone you’ve been working with for years, carve out time to get a refresher on what “good” looks like. You might be surprised at what they say.
  • Set up regular check-ins to exchange qualitative and quantitative feedback and to collaboratively evaluate how well the process is performing. These can range from verbal checkpoints, to simple “How We Doin’?” scorecards, to full-blown dashboard reviews – it all depends on your mutual level of formality. Be sure to explicitly call out course corrections you’ve made since the last meeting to show that feedback is being incorporated.
  • Proactively search for new ways to solve the customer’s fundamental needs. Just ran across a new tool that better summarizes a lead’s digital body language? Show it to your reps, and see what they think. It may not make your tasks in the lead generation process any easier, but it may vastly improve the quality of what you produce. And by the way, our friends in product management have a name for this – innovation!