Blog / Sales Process Improvement Forum

How to Get Full Support from Top Management in Going Lean and Six Sigma With Sales And Marketing?

by Michael Webb | * Comments (2)

A reader recently asked…. 

“Tell the Lean Process Excellence Leader I’m busy.”

“Tell the Lean Process Excellence Leader I’m busy.”

How to get full support from top management in going Lean and Six Sigma with sales and marketing? What is the most difficult part of the change or where is expected to be the most resistant to the change?

This is a great question – and a complex one. Since you specifically asked about support from top management for Six Sigma in sales and marketing, let’s consider the layers of disconnects that make Six Sigma challenging for some top managers (and salespeople alike):

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How Many Sales Process Steps Do You Need to Analyze Data Effectively?

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)

Gary Barnes posted the above question on the Linked-In Group “Sales Science”. He added,

There seems to be an age old struggle between operations and sales on how discriminating a sales process should be. The more sales steps the more insight operations and sales leadership can gather on the current pipeline, but the more steps that are in the process the more updating sales reps have to do. “Do you want me selling, or entering data,” is what we hear from sales reps. What are your thoughts on minimum number of steps that should in a sales process to have a minimum amount of discrimination?

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Operational Definitions of Sales Qualification Criteria

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)

One of the most valuable characteristics of process excellence is the distinction between what people can control and what they cannot. No improvement is possible without this information.  The good news is that the effort spent identifying these factors helps salespeople become more effective and to elevates the performance of the team.

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Are There Aspects of Lean Process Excellence That Can Be Quickly Implemented in 90-120 days?

by Michael Webb | * Comments (2)

animationI have received this question before, so I’m guessing my previous response wasn’t enough.  

Here is a quicker, shorter, take. I’d really appreciate knowing if this is helpful and what other questions come to mind:  

There are two ways lean process excellence makes an impact in a short time.

The first way is to improve your value (i.e. customer response or traction). Lean process excellence doesn't just reduce waste – it increases value to the customer and to your company. 

The second way it has an impact is to sustain and extend your value over time.

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How Do You Determine the Appropriate Metrics to Measure Against in Such an Unstructured Environment as B2B Sales?

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)

The key is in your point that B2B sales is an “unstructured environment.” I would argue that it is actually more structured and straightforward than people realize, and that it is our way of understanding it – the words and thinking frames we use – that need improving. MWebb_Wrong Measure

Consider: When you apply lean and process excellence to manufacturing production you do the following:

  1. Operationally define the production system: You specify the thing you are trying to create, and the nature of the work required.
  2. Gather data and use it to make the inner workings of the environment (the “system”) visible and understandable to everyone
  3. Analyze causes and effects in order to develop theories of how the system works, and how to improve it (countermeasures)

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• How Can We Convince Sales and Marketing About the Advantages of Lean in Their Processes?

by Michael Webb | * Comments (3)

A reader recently asked:  

  • How can we convince sales and marketing about the advantages of lean in their processes?

This is a great question, and I get it a lot. The primary issue is that salespeople and marketers do not see how Lean will help them sell or do marketing.  This is aggravated by the fact that Lean is usually presented using manufacturing examples, not sales and marketing examples. And the truth is, most lean practitioners have never carried a sales quota or been involved in the essentials of marketing.

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Is Lean Certification Effective for Practitioners in Sales and Marketing? If not, How Does it Need to Change?

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)

A recently asked question from a LinkedIn Group titled “The Shingo Prize:” 

Lean Bronze Certification – Is it Effective for Practitioners in Sales and Marketing? If Not, How Does It Need to Change?   (Note: this link requires you to log into the Linked-In website.)

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Managing to Connect the Business with the Customer

by Michael Webb | * Comments (1)

John Shook, Chairman and CEO of the Lean Enterprise institute, just released a newsletter titled “Managing to Connect the Macro with the Micro.” In it he chronicles another of the steps the Lean movement has taken from being “just a kit of process improvement tools” to being a method for thinking scientifically about business problems.

What Makes The Lean Management System Unique

Over the years the Lean movement has attracted thinkers and pioneers who have developed its implications into something quite powerful. As Michael Ballé put it in another recent article:

What makes lean unique is that it is the only full-fledged alternative to the “modern management” invented by Alfred Sloan in the previous century. Lean is a full business system with:

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A Recent Readers Question: How Easy & Quickly can I Implement Some of the Key Changes to Realize Sales Process Improvements in a Reasonable Short Time?

by Michael Webb | * Comments (2)

Thanks for your recent question on my website. Several people have asked it.

  • How easy and quickly can I implement some of the key changes to realize sales process improvements in a reasonable short time?

The answer looks different if you are in a large account/complex selling environment than if you are in a more commodity-oriented environment (perhaps with channels), but the principles are the same.

Lean and process excellence is a management method that maximizes value and minimizes waste. It thinks in terms of “value streams.” In sales and marketing the value stream consists of the actions you get prospects and customers to take.

Now, since you can’t control your prospects and customers you have to you do a better job understanding their problems, needs, and objectives. Salespeople who get good at this are able to discover the root causes of their challenges, so they can offer effective countermeasures. This is what we mean when we say, Lean process excellence is based on this rational, evidence driven scientific approaches.

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How Can The Salesforce Use Lean?

by Michael Webb | * Comments (3)

A recent visitor asked “How can the salesforce use Lean?”

There are lots of possible answers, and the reader left no context for what they might be concerned about. Here are a couple of general thoughts that might be useful:

  • Lean can help sell more stuff!

Lean seeks to maximize value to the customer and eliminate waste. This means you find ways to make it easier for the customer to buy from you, and make it easier for salespeople to sell to them.

Sales forces can use Lean by zeroing in on waste. For example, brochures no one reads, websites that do not help customers do anything, sales “leads” that don’t (and may never) qualify, proposals that are not purchased … all these are all waste.

As a salesperson, you are probably thinking “duh!” The thing is this: Lean brings a new arsenal of weapons to attack these age old problems: Data, evidence, and logic to figure out why people are not buying, for one thing.  

A systems view is another thing. Lean process thinking recognizes that the whole company must support sales process improvement, not just the sales department.

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