“In business only the results count” is probably a statement you have heard over and over again.
I obviously cannot disagree with the fundamental fact that without solid and growing profit all businesses will lose their momentum and sooner or later they will cease to exist. However, I think that focusing on the “results only” often makes us blind to why we are in business in the first place and it makes us underestimate, undervalue and sometimes even ignore that generating these “results” is the outcome of a process.
Money in the bank
I was having a conversation with a CEO of a company some time ago. “Only the results count” he said and I then asked “what kind of results?” “Orders and revenue,” he said. I reminded him that unless the customers actually paid, even orders and revenue were worthless and he then adjusted his definition of results to “money in the bank.”
We discussed the type of customers he was serving, his value proposition, the competition, lead generation, the average sales cycle, the customer acquisition cost, the average order size, the customer lifetime value and the challenges he was facing. It was a very difficult conversation as there was very little passion for the customers and hardly any solid data from his current operation. His focus was on the bottom line and not on the journey to get there.
Marketing and sales is not a black box
My conclusion was that he talked about “money in the bank” because he did not have a passion for making his customers excited and he did not have a clear process for supporting the customers’ buying journey. Ignoring that “money in the bank” is the outcome of a clear and well defined marketing and sales process reflecting the customers’ purchase process, he had little respect for all the effort it takes to drive the AIDA (Awareness -> Interest -> Desire -> Action) process. To him anything prior to “money in the bank” was a black box and he wanted to engage sales people who could fill the black box and do whatever it would take to generate “money in the bank” now!
There are still many executives that treat business development, marketing and sales as black boxes. They assign people to do these jobs, but they fail to engage and get involved with understanding, defining, designing, documenting, monitoring and reviewing the revenue generation processes. If the black box doesn’t work then they replace the people in the box expecting the new people to figure it out.
Marketing and sales are genuine business processes
The front office of our business model (business development, marketing and sales) are “business processes” exactly as product development, logistics, professional services, HR, G&A and manufacturing are. Getting them to work and delivering steadily increasing output at steadily decreasing cost requires the same approaches that we apply on all other business processes.