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Getting Business Leverage from Digital Tools

Getting Business Leverage from Digital Tools

How can we best get breakthroughs in business growth with new digital capabilities?

If we simply assume their efficiency offers more performance, we could miss a lot of the leverage these tools can offer when we apply deeper insights. Dramatically better results can come from changes on the levels of processes and paradigms. Read on to learn how ...

For example, organizing sales leads with a computer clearly saves time compared to using pen and paper, so we can expect more output from a salesperson who has replaced that box full of index cards with a laptop and lead management application.

We can stop there and be satisfied, or we can go a level deeper by realizing there are opportunities in redesigning work processes to best take advantages of these new technologies. The automation and clear performance feedback a good customer relationship management (CRM) system offers can allow for designing a new lead conversion process with a shorter sales path, less wasted resources, and more tightly controlled time management.

However, even better results can come from remaking our paradigms: our largely unconscious mental models that presuppose how things work in business. They are also known as "belief systems". A paradigm shift can be the most powerful lever for making a positive impact on a complex, dynamic system like a business. As Stephen Covey wrote, "If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigms."

Every stage in the customer-business relationship lifecyle has dramatically changed because of the internet and other technologies. Should that not also make us question the assumptions behind the design of our business processes? What does a system say about the beliefs a business has? What does it say about the business' values? How does a process convey how the business collectively looks at the world? What if, instead of just improving processes, we question these deeper levels of assumptions, beliefs, values, and world view?

Can you imagine the competitive advantage of regularly updating outdated mental models with new, better performing ones?

To illustrate, here's a short, semi-fictional case study:

  • Performance: Business owner Roberta expects salesperson John to get more appointments now that he is using a digital CRM system instead of his old lead management system of index cards in a tickler file. And, indeed, he does set more presentations. He is no longer wasting time shuffling through index cards. The app keeps information clearly organized so no leads fall through the cracks. The next step with each lead is always clear.

  • Process: Roberta notes more leads are coming from the internet, so she invests in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to fine tune their website to land higher on search engine results pages, netting more inquiries. She and John together look at a flow chart of the process of converting a lead to a client and find ways to tweak the process using the CRM's automation capabilities. For example, they create higher positive expectations in prospects with a confirmation email (sent ahead of the first in-person meeting) linking to web media featuring testimonials of happy clients.

  • Paradigm: Roberta and John learn a growing number of potential customers research ideas about their product on the internet well ahead of a purchase decision. Roberta has a "lightbulb moment" and repositions the company as an education firm that teaches the marketplace about the best use of its product. In the past, their paradigm was the company simply manufactured a product and sold it with persuasive sales copy. This customer empowerment gains the trust of more people higher up the sales funnel who migrate through carefully orchestrated stages to being loyal, referring customers. The company prospers.
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Getting Business Leverage from Digital Tools
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