Chasing Leads vs. Developing Pipelines

It is interesting to me how much what is measured influences how people spend their time.

For example back in college, when I had to maintain a 3.8 grade point average to keep my scholarship, a lot of time was spent studying. Not necessarily learning, mind you, but memorizing. Doing things that would help me write the paper or pass the test. Had learning been my goal, I would have taken different classes...read more....hung out with people who didn't share my worldview and put in more hours for my internship. As it turns out, I've learned substantially more post-college in the reading, classes, and interactions that were never measured. Primarily because it was driven by curiosity rather than grades.

I've observed this phenomenon with marketing and business development professionals. Those on commission track leads. It makes sense. If you are paid based on the amount of work you bring in, then it is crucial that someone knows you brought it. In a door-to-door salesman world, this works. You knock on the door. You make the sale. You mark it on your sheet. You get the commission.

However, in a corporate world, it isn't clear cut. If I take a call, I'm never sure why they call me. Is it because I met the client at a trade show? Is it based on an article I wrote? More than likely, it is because the rest of my team did a fabulous job on a project. Or supported an architect. Or worked until midnight to meet that impossible deadline.

I've always worried that we would move to a system that measured the sale. After all, I do work with engineers. Measuring is in their blood. But if we did, would it change the way I work? Would I spend as much time with the small client as the "big sale?" Would I develop a "claim jumper" mentality where I had to fight to grow my small influence into something larger than it really was?

Without a system of measurement in place, I've been free to focus on relationships. My lead-tracking is abysmal. My people-tracking is excellent.

Understanding what people need and genuinely trying to make them successful, requires an outward focus rather than an inward one. Oddly enough, this approach has produced pipelines of work that have built slowly over time.

I hope I never have to trade people for tallies on a spreadsheet or a lead retrieval system at a trade show. After all, engaging with people is far more satisfying.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall