SPIF Tip #46: Frustrated with B2B Revenues and Margins? Deep Thinking Improves Results

According to CSO Insights,

the percentage of salespeople meeting or exceeding quota has declined for five years in a row!

If you are responsible for B2B sales and marketing, that statistic should take your breath away. How can it be?

There were more than 1700 B2B companies in those studies. It is not like they were all relaxing. Why can’t they set achievable quotas? Why is performance so low?

This SPIF Tip examines the reasons for this state of affairs, and explains the deeper thinking strategy that enables companies to break out of the rat race and start improving. We’ll also offer some case studies that will be helpful.


Do Highly Successful Companies Use Process Management Tools in Marketing and Sales?

nail's victory over a hammer

A reader asked this question:

  • We're wondering if highly successful, well-known companies use process management tools in marketing and sales?

By “process management tools,” I assume he means “Do successful companies use ‘5S, Kanban, work cells, Andon lights, etc.’ in sales and marketing?” 

The answer is yes, many companies have tried this, sometimes successfully.

However, as the old saying goes, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." And in this case, applying the tools of lean manufacturing is not the same as actually improving things, so often nothing useful happens. Many of these efforts are wasted, and sometimes the practitioners take a beating.

First, you want to understand the reasons for this. Then I’ll explain why process excellence in sales is such a fantastic growth and profit opportunity. 


How to Get Sales & Marketing Leader's Commitment in Lean Initiatives

A reader asked

  • How can you get sales and marketing leader's commitment in Lean initiatives?

SocratesI get this question all the time from lean process excellence leaders. Here is the simple answer: 

  • You cannot win salespeople’s hearts and minds unless you can help them sell. 

Here’s the critical thing: Sales and marketing work is fundamentally different than that of production manufacturing. Sales is not just another department, like production, legal, or engineering, or customer service.  (more...)

How Can Lean in Sales and Marketing Allocate Scarce Resources Wisely

A General Management reader asked: “How can Lean in sales and marketing allocate scarce resources wisely?”

This great question because, at the heart of things, improving the organization’s performance isn’t just about reducing waste.  You are looking for evidence of what the customer values as well, and this can be tricky. (more...)

How is Lean Different From Other Sales Process Methodologies?

The Sr. VP of Sales for a high technology company asked:

“How is Lean (sales process excellence) different from other sales process methodologies (e.g. QBS, Forum), in that many salespeople will quickly discard and revert if they don’t easily perceive results?”

Lean and process excellence enables relentless increases in business productivity. This doesn’t just mean eliminating waste. It also means increasing the value perceived by the customer. Lean thinking begins with what the customer wants, and works backwards from there. Four characteristics distinguish a Lean process approach to sales and marketing from traditional approaches: (more...)

Getting Other People To See The Value Of Lean and Six Sigma

Here is another question someone asked recently:

"How do I get people to see that Lean and Six Sigma work everywhere and not just in manufacturing?"

Great question. However, I believe it is the wrong question, unfortunately. If I had to answer it, I would say "Stop talking about Lean and Six Sigma!"

A better question is  more like "What are some important problems you struggling with where I may be able to help?  To be successful process professionals must learn to go where the client is and help them solve their problems on their turf and in their terms. (more...)

Three Key Changes To Realize Quick Sales Improvements

By Michael Webb

 You can achieve quick sales improvements if – and only if – you know which part of your sales process is broken, and how to fix it. Let’s take a quick look at how poor business managers go about this, and then examine the right way.

What part of your sales process is broken? (And how do you know?)


Are You Ready to Lead Your Salespeople on a Lean Kaizen Journey?

The tough economy seems to be causing more companies to poke around their sales departments with 5S or other lean-style experiments. We've received more inquiries on the topic, and some threads have popped up in lean and process-oriented bulletin boards.

Many of these inquiries come from in-house practitioners trained and experienced only in the production context. Applying lean in the sales department is difficult for such in-house practitioners. That's because sales and marketing is an entirely different kind of value stream from normal production work.

Before embarking on a lean kaizen journey in your sales department, it helps a lot to know what you are getting into. (more...)

Five Things Sales and Marketing Can Learn From Lean Production

Some companies already know a lot about the transition from traditional to lean production operations. As it turns out, there are remarkable parallels between the lean journey in manufacturing and the lean journey in sales and marketing (sales kaizen).

When implemented effectively, both the benefits and the challenges are remarkably similar:


Banish the Waste from Sales and Marketing: Think Different!

One of the most valuable questions I ask sales and marketing teams is,

“What kinds of things clearly add no value to your sales and marketing operations?”

People react strongly. They gave me examples like:

  • Time spent nursing product quality problems
  • Time spent on administration, reporting, and menial tasks (leaving little time for customers)
  • Trade shows that generate boxes of “leads” not worth calling on
  • Marketing literature that no one reads
  • Wasting time with the wrong prospects (more...)