“I want to increase our webinar registration numbers,” Nancy said, showing the natural desire of every salesperson to improve the product they’re bringing to market — in this case, sponsorships.
Upon hearing this, I went into my defense and denial mode.
“Hey, the numbers are what they are. This is a quality, not a quantity offering.”
Fortunately, I’m getting better at listening to things I don’t want to hear, and so after letting her very reasonable suggestion permeate the thick soil that is my brain, I had a more rational and reasonable conversation with her the next day.
“Ok, so you want to increase our webinar registrations — that’s a good thing. What did you have in mind?”
“Well,” she said. “All our webinars are targeted to appeal to the CIO, right?”
“And since we’re doing one a week, we might have anywhere from four to six events available for registration at any one time, right?”
“But if someone wants to register for multiple events, which seems likely, they have to click on the link for an event on our site and register in Webex. Then, if they remember and feel like doing it all again, they have to go back to our site, click on a link for another event, and register again in Webex, and so on and so on. I mean, who is going to do that?”
“I dunno,” I replied brilliantly.
“We need to make it so that after they register for a webinar, they can just put a check next to the upcoming Webinars they want to attend and then somehow get them registered for those events,” Nancy said.
“I just don’t know how we’re going to do that,” I said. “We can’t really make anything happen on the Webex side. They are not going to do custom programming for us.”
“Well, something like this needs to happen,” she said.
Within a week, we had our full team meeting with Kate joining Nancy and me. We went over the issue again, with Kate endorsing Nancy’s vision for registration.
“That’s great. I agree with the goal, but I still don’t know how we’re going to operationalize it,” I said. “Let me put my brain on it this afternoon.”
And so I did.
By the end of the afternoon, I thought I had the answer. I literally called Nancy from the duck pond.
While we couldn’t do anything on the Webex side, we could do a lot on our site; in particular, leveraging the “Forms” app we were using in WordPress.
“Hey Nancy, you said you’re ok with doing some manual input, if that’s what it takes, right?”
“Ok, well here it goes: What if instead of them putting in their information for one event and then having the option to check off a few others, we show them ALL the events in a checklist-type view and then ask for their information once. The submission of the form will both send the information into a database and trigger an email to you containing all the form information. You’d have to then key it into Webex.
“That’s EXACTLY what I want,” she said with excitement.
After building the page and having Nancy review it, we sent it to Kate for another check.
“Looks great!” she wrote back.
After going live, Nancy and I worked with her email filter settings so all Webinar registrations would bypass her inbox (so as not to clutter it) and go into a specific folder. After she inputs those registrations, she moves the emails into another “Processed” folder. Perhaps not elegant from a technology point of view, but it achieves the goal — simplified, multiple-Webinar registration for our readers.
And it’s worked out just as Nancy had envisioned. In fact, our first registration under the new format was from Chris Walden, VP/CIO at HealthAlliance Hospital, who signed up for three events.
After reflecting on this process, it’s clear that change and improvement start with desire. If Nancy did not want to improve our Webinar registration numbers, nothing would have happened. And why does she want to do that? Because she likes her job (she is not paid on a commission basis): she has flexibility in her working hours and conditions, she is not micromanaged, and she gets credit for her good ideas. She is, I think, happy.
After the idea, we get into an area most small companies should be good at: operationalization. If I think it makes sense and we can find a path forward, I’m all for trying. I mean, we are blessed with the ability to change on a dime — if we don’t take advantage of it, shame on us.
While you may not have the ability to turn ideas into operational reality as quickly, your ability to do so as quickly as possible is a matter of organizational survival. Your environment is changing, whether you like it or not. Your competitors are changing, always striving to get better. You had better learn how to sense the changes in the wind, figure a way to tack with them and adjust your sails. If you don’t, it’s only a matter of time before you become extinct — whether you want to hear it or not.