I’ve got a question for you. You know all those trip reports you’ve been writing for the last ten or twenty years? Who exactly has been reading them? More importantly, what’s happened to all the insight, dealer feedback, first person observations, and mid-trip epiphanies that you’ve spontaneously created over the course of a career?
I’ll tell you what probably happened to it all.
It all… just… vanished.
You know what’s worse? How many peers do you have? How many salespeople emailing from the road, how many product managers out on a boondoggle, how many emails, trip reports, insights, comments, brainstorms… how much information has just spilled out into the ether to be obsoleted by the next batch of reports and meeting requests?
This is a sobering thought. People travel to get insight that only comes from first person experience. They capture these nuggets in real time and transmit them with every intention of following up, only to find that other priorities take their place as soon as they commit them to paper.
I’m not of the opinion that every hair-brained idea needs to be ruthlessly executed, because this just doesn’t work. Some ideas are better than others. But think about the volume of stuff that comes in an average year of business: what would happen if you at very least just captured all the ideas in one place and prioritized it on a weekly or monthly basis, pushing some up and others down or out?
How many companies do this, do you think? Probably pretty few. Most just book more flights to Phoenix. So they can write more trip reports.
Copyright (c) 2007 Stephen Denny
At a previous employer while in Sales, we had no CRM system to capture the results of sales calls, or better yet all-inclusive opportunity reports. We lost around 8 sales managers in 10 months, which was most of the staff. I always thought…all that intelligence: Gone. Irretrievable. Exit interviews can be helpful, but that’s a last minute resort..and in a negative environment/circumstance, they’re worthless because any goodwill motivation is nonexistant.
Back to the macro-topic: I can only imagine the cost of all this intelligence lost from unkept records is staggering and something management should always be mindful of. After all, they paid for the trips and expenses and it was FOR THE ORG’S BENEFIT, not for the employee’s.
Mario: all true, unfortunately. I remember my waning days at a former employer some years ago. Walking past a conference room, I overheard bits of discussion from a new group of people who seemed to be terribly passionate about what they were talking about — unfortunately, I came to quickly realize, they were having the same brainstorming meeting that I and my then-peers had conducted some six years previously. Same points, same facts, same metaphors, everything. The organization had progressed not one inch in six years. This was the sign that pushed me to leave. I could only surmise that in perpetuity, this company would continue to repeat its mistakes, like Groundhog Day. Or Purgatory, depending on how bad it all seems.
Mario, you are absolutely right. It happens all the time. But why?I contend this is because the focus is wrong.
The trip report has to be written. That’s 20% of the value. 80% of the value comes from creating change! One of my favorite quotes comes from Bill Gates who reportedly said “OK, now that I have this information, what do I do differently”?
Bill’s point (and my point) is that a trip report (or any other kind of intelligence gathering) is worthless information if it doesn’t enable and cause change.
It is the responsibility of the CMO to drive change (especially market-driven change) into the organization. THAT should be the focus.