One of the best ways I ever learned anything about a job role, a team, or even just tackling a new challenge was to “learn by doing”. This is especially true in a startup where you have a small team and may not have the budget to hire an expert to address the issues. Every time I’ve had to take on a new challenge I have used the same approach, whether I consciously know it or not. I recently did this with the new BrightGauge Sales Process we implemented earlier this year:
Understand the Baseline – The first thing I do is try to understand what is the current baseline. How are things working right now. What are the steps in the process. For BrightGauge, we have 4 stages of our sales process which we clearly outline in our internal documents. I like to use a whiteboard or post it notes on a wall to lay out a process that you can visualize.
Go Through Each Step – I spent 90 days using the BrightGauge sales process and trying to understand each step. What gets people to move from one stage to another? What are the action items to move from step to step?
Measuring the Baseline – I’m a data guy, so it’s important for me to measure everything I can. I like to measure the performance at each stage in the sales process. How long does it take to move stages? How many people move to the next stage? How many people do we lose at each stage?
Identify the Gaps – Now that I have the process and I’ve gone through it a bunch of times I try to figure out what are the gaps. Why are we losing people at each stage of the process? What documentation or information would make it easier to move through this stage? Is there some automation that I can introduce to improve the process? What if I wanted to ‘throttle’ up the process, what would that take to do?
Options To Fill The Gaps – I take each question at each stage and I try to find different options to improve the process. For example, could we gather more information at the beginning via the web instead of trying to connect with people on the phone? Would that save time and have a higher hit rate?
Implement Changes – Once I have my list of options, I begin introducing 1 change at a time to the process and measure. Did that change I implemented help the stage/issue I expected? If yes, continue, if no, then let’s re-evaluate. Did the change I implemented help other stages as expected? If yes and it’s a positive, then continue. If no, then let’s re-evaluate.
This process improvement can be applied to any function. I’ve used it when I took over the management of our Help Desk in our MSP by understanding the flow of a ticket through our system. Taking the time to go through this process will dramatically improve your business.