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It's always a process problem
There are no people problems, only process problems.
An example: when someone fills out the interest form on Pilot’s website, we try get back to them immediately. And we usually do. But sometimes we don’t, and a lead slips through the cracks. It’s deeply, deeply, deeply frustrating to me when this happens.
Any time something goes wrong, your first instinct is going to be to blame someone. That instinct is misguided (and is also terrible for morale.) Going over to the sales rep’s desk and saying “Hey, be more careful next time” isn’t actually going to lead to a different outcome. The person on your team is smart, capable, and already trying hard—it’s not like they’ll say “Ok, sure, I wasn’t being careful before but now I will be careful.” And even if they try really hard, you’re still going to see this same issue in the future with some frequency.
Instead, if you want to prevent the problem from recurring, you have to ask: How did we get here? What adjustments do we need to make to reduce the probability of it happening again? Generally, what you’ll find is that something was wrong or missing with the process—something about the way the system works made it easy for an error to slip through, or made it too hard to do the right thing.
In the case of the missing sales lead, maybe there needs to be a clear dashboard where we show the state of sales leads that are more than X minutes old. Or maybe the dashboard exists, but the reps don’t have time to look at it—so maybe you need to free up that time, or maybe you need to figure out how to make compliance a part of your sales managers’ jobs.
What I’m sure didn’t happen was: the sales rep saw the lead come through and said “Oh, yeah, I’m going to intentionally ignore this great lead.” Assuming you’ve hired smart, talented, hardworking people, this feels pretty unlikely—not to mention the fact that your sales team is highly incentivized to sell to new customers.
If you don’t feel this way, that’s also indicative of a process problem. Either your hiring process isn’t doing a good job of selecting folks who will succeed in the role, or your performance management process isn’t properly managing underperformers.
It’s always a process problem.