Is Your Process An Outcome?

I often blog about one fundamental mistake both much sales management and practically all crm systems make. They fail to distinguish between activity and results.

My experience is that when confronted with a choice, most sales management structures veer towards ‘activity’ as their primary driver. My firm view is that this is wrong. Outcomes all the way for me should be at the heart of how you manage. It may be considered by some as mere semantics yet its nuance is, I believe, critical.

To use one of several crm/management examples available, this means you need to home in on what is happening next, rather than what has happened, which is all too typical. And erroneous.

Yes of course, monitoring activity does have a worthy place, but my point is that when it becomes the main means of assessment, you get sent down the wrong route.

In the parlance of the UK’s National Health Service, this concerns the focus on either processes or outcomes.

In July recently the new coalition government set out its stall for yet more (albeit much needed) reform of the NHS. Reading through a transcript of the statement to the House was fascinating. Here’s a key passage:

For too long, processes have come before outcomes, as NHS staff have had to contend with 100 targets and over 260,000 separate data returns to the Department each year.

We will remove unjustified targets and the bureaucracy which sustains them. In their place, we will introduce an Outcomes Framework to set out what the service should achieve, leaving the professionals to develop how.

We should have clear ambitions, and our approach to this will be set out shortly in a consultation document. For example, our aims could be: to achieve one and five year cancer survival rates above the European average; to minimise avoidable hospital acquired infections; to increase the proportion of stroke victims who are able to go home and live independently.

How similar to inappropriate sales reporting does this sound? Lots of targets (mainly unjustified), too many data returns required, unnecessary bureaucracy, no clear ambitions.

Process targets introduced in the past famously include the length of waiting times for certain procedures, regardless of the effectiveness of the eventual treatment. I plainly applaud this new outcomes slant, yet when is an outcome not a outcome?

Number of calls, size of prospect bank and performance against quota are three major process metrics. All have merit yes, but what happens on these calls? What type of prospect are they? How sustainable (growable, repeatable even) is the year-to-date figure?

These are all difficult to measure. This should not mean that they are jettisoned from the discussion though. Far from it.

Distinguish well between process and outcome pointers and you will undoubtedly improve your results.

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