The Machine: Operations & Opportunities (Part 2)

The Operations and Opportunities series will posted on Tuesdays Wednesdays, and Thursdays through the month of August 2011. A number of operational issues will be addressed in the blog. For more detail, depth or individual information and answers, please contact Soltys, Inc. Comments and questions are welcome. We will post answers and responses.

Businesses wanting to maximize bottom line impact find ways to make a series of processes predictably produce results. In essence, these businesses run like machines. These “machines” can exist in sales and service businesses, not just manufacturing. Yes, everything from real estate brokerage and franchising to software companies and country clubs.

All raw materials (data, customers, sales) work through the machine’s finely honed gears, each turning and meshing with paired gears delivering purpose, synced timing and precision. There are parts of the process that require human touch and application of skills, but every effort is made to ensure that the completion of the human task allows the machine to carry out as many of the functions as possible. The machine works best for everyone and the company when human intervention is limited as much as possible. The less dependent on people the processes are, the more money the people make.

If we take a look at the sales process for example, there are many points of input (sources of clients and customers) and many services and sales persons who will touch those customers in the process.

In the case of the example company, they are working through a disconnected process with silos of information and methods held by individuals at different points of the prospect’s experience and the transaction. The ratio of all prospects to all sales closing runs at approximately 5%.
The company decided to implement an operational machine to create consistent processes and increase results. Implementation required:
  • Organization of parts, pieces and information related to the processes. A significant portion of the information and document flow was already in place but had never been formalized.
  • Operational rules
  • Training of all parties and commitment to the process.
  • Accountability at all levels. Managers wanting to be heroes in problem solving were the biggest challenge.
  • Communicated understanding of the cost benefit of all actions.
  • Company-wide CRM system
  • Integration of all other products and services sold in the company
  • Paperless document system

Results of implementation will continue to grow but are initially showing a prospect closing percentage nearing 20%, with a higher proportion of qualified prospects seeking the better experience. Sales persons incomes are expected to rise significantly and the company retained profit will be much stronger due to client leverage and sales persons handling more transactions.

A simplified outline of the machine.

1. Interest initiated by potential customer by web inquiry.
a. Thank you for inquiry and process outlined in immediate response.
b. Prospect qualified and triaged for most favorable sales positioning.
c. Missing data noted and flagged as incomplete

2. Assignment
a. Options
i. Source allows for assignment to the best qualified ready, willing and able sales person.
ii. Source specifies initial assignment of sales person.
iii. Prospects determined not ready, willing or able through triage will be incubated.

3. Data on prospect, needs etc. fed to database.
a. Mined data related to prospect needs and available solutions can be fed to the sales person or other resources as needed throughout the process.
i. Opens opportunities to add on sales.
ii. Sets up referrals and future sales.
b. Prospect data as accumulates engaged services and products related to the sales process to be offered to the prospect by the sales person.
i. Required tools, data, applications and documents are readied in queue.
c. Initiates performance and documentation
d. Challenge, obstacle and fail reporting with potential remedies are ready as events occur and create ongoing process analysis and with opportunities of correction.

4. Quality controls and reviews are event and process triggered.
a. Quick resolutions and adjustments to meet challenges
b. Significant risk reduction
c. Higher satisfaction for all parties.

5. Consistent information flow for the prospect, sales associate and company are automatic.

6. Process conclusion
a. Sale is made and closing occurs with all parties feeling success.
i. Multiple products and services sold to one prospect generating additional revenue.
ii. Future sales and referrals are prepositioned
iii. Post sales activity is launched.
b. Saleperson is able to handle more opportunities because the machine works for them
c. Sales person and the company make more money than they would without the machine.

Yes, the machine requires maintenance and recalibration periodically but its operation creates many opportunities including volume, product and service expansion. Once sales people and management embrace the power of the machine, growth opportunities are no longer as limited as when they are people rather than process dependent. A good machine makes work easier and more productive.