Why Intentional Processes Drive More Revenue
When many people think of process, they think of something mandatory. Usually something unpleasant. The idea of the “process police” comes up, a mysterious group who stifles any innovation in employees. We take a different view. We look at processes – intentional processes, those with purpose – as a potential competitive differentiator and revenue driver. In this case the meaning of “intentional” stresses the awareness and desire for an end to be achieved. You can intend something without necessarily being intentional!
We recently met with a senior executive from a notable FinTech company. Our discussion turned towards the need for process improvement, without also being “process for process sake.” We talked about the flow-on effects caused by poor processes. It’s a subject near and dear to my heart, having designed and implemented various processes for technology companies for over 20 years.
The Sales Process
The most obvious process that’s tied to revenue is the sales process. How to turn an interest into a prospect and into a deal. There are many sales methodologies and processes out there, and we’ve used several of them.
Where things often fall down are in other areas. Renewal business. Product development. Implementation services. Support and customer success. Each one may in itself seem complete, but they frequently don’t connect with others. They are developed at the departmental level in silos. Intentional processes go beyond silos.
So why would a great, intentional process lead to more revenue? This diagram explains the logic:
Processes without Intent
This all makes sense, but to illustrate the problem further let’s assume processes are “not intentional” in a number of areas:
– Sales processes are unclear or convoluted, leading customers to go elsewhere
– Renewal processes are vague, and customers are contacted too late, often risking the deal (or requiring a larger discount)
– Product road maps are inconsistent, confusing salespeople as well as customers
– Product commitments are difficult to keep
– Product development is late, buggy and/or canceled, frustrating customers and creating doubt in the company’s commitment to them
– Services processes are ambiguous leading to unclear deliverables and less value provided
– Support processes reward ticket closure rather than problem resolution
– Finance and Legal processes are onerous, delaying and risking product and services deals
The end result is wasted time and frustrated customers. Too much time is spent getting things done that could be better spent driving more business. Deals, renewals and additional business are at risk. And getting a recommendation from frustrated customers is also at risk.
Every Company Can Improve
Consider these three points:
1. Every company needs to improve in one or more areas.
2. If you’re only as good as everyone else you’re not better. You need to be better.
3. If you don’t have intentional processes you are leaving money on the table.
Process and Pragmatism
We take a pragmatic approach when working with clients. If they’re a smaller 50-person firm, a process might be simpler and carried out by a few people (or a single person) with minimum hassle. You don’t need many steps in the process, yet at the same time some level of definition and clarity is desired.
By creating an intentional process you are able to track the results of the process quantitatively as well as qualitatively and will get a consistent result. Without a process you’re dependent on “tribal knowledge” and the experience of the person performing the task.
If the customer is larger, there may be more required stakeholders and also more complexity. In a large public company, a product approval process is more than one person saying “yes”. It may involve multiple approval levels and signoffs as well as other inputs and outputs. At the same time, you don’t want to make it too complex.
There is a temptation to overengineer processes, especially by people who are too close to the problem but not close enough to the solution. I’ve found that’s where engaging a third party can be helpful to look objectively and unemotionally at the issue at hand.