Charles Chen | How Systems Thinking Influences Sales Organizations

Many past guests have come from engineering or similar careers… they’re attracted to Lean and Six Sigma because they know success requires data and systems thinking. Once they are touched by how scientific approaches work in sales, they are never the same again. Charles Chen is no exception.

A Master Black Belt in Six Sigma at Microsoft, Charles has improved sales and marketing there, as well as at GE and other major corporations. In one case study he shares, he was able to nearly double lead conversion rate without improving lead quality. He goes in depth on what led to that transformation, as well as:

* How to recognize if your sales efforts are too reactive (it can be hard to see)

* The importance of getting your sales reps outside of the quota mentality

* Why you can’t measure improvement in your sales process without this

* Identifying “and eliminating“ 0% chance leads from your list

* And more
Listen now…

Michael Webb: Some people focus on making sales calls, reaching decision-makers and selling value. Other people focus on finding data, understanding cause and effect, and conducting experiments. This is Michael Webb and this is the Sales Process Excellence podcast where we focus on doing both, to create wealth for everyone.

I’m excited today to have a guest, an unusual person. This is Charles Chen who has followed a career that has had transitions that make him uniquely insightful in our quest here to improve sales processes around the world. He was a mechanical engineer, and then he transitioned to being a Six Sigma Green Belt and an engineering project manager at, I think he worked at Ford and then GE and then a bank and then ultimately became a master Black Belt at Microsoft. And has worked on customer-facing projects in sales and marketing. So Charles, welcome here.

Charles Chen:    Thanks, Michael. It’s great to be with you.

Michael Webb: So it would be great, I did a little bit of a thumbnail sketch there of your background. I mean, tell us how you got to where you are and what kind of motivated you along the way. I know that readers would like to hear a little color commentary on why you’re here.

Charles Chen:    Oh sure, sure. So my background, you touched the right two points. I started my career a long time ago at Ford Motor Company. Also, an engineer, graduated from University of Michigan with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering. After three years I went to Yale business school. Upon graduation, I started work at GE and this time was not in engineering, it was in sales enablement. So it was there that I earned my Green Belt, but we did a project fundamentally enhanced the productivity of that sales organization.

After two years there, I went to Washington Mutual Bank as a corporate officer. I ran the Black Belt project over there, ran the team as well. Saw that bank was about to tilt a year before it finally did and went to Microsoft. At Microsoft, I’ve been here for 11 years. This is my fifth role with the company. What’s most profound in my career at Microsoft has been when I was in our internal Six Sigma consulting and teaching group and I focused our efforts in sales and marketing. So I personally ran multiple projects at the global scale focused on sales and marketing, improving revenue, either conversion rate or win rate or velocity.

And I personally coached 11 folks on Microsoft to earn their Green Belt, Black Belt certification. Half of them were from sales and marketing as well, even a few from our incentive comp organization. So yeah, that’s my background, my last role with … yeah, that’s my background. Thank you.

Michael Webb: So Six Sigma has a reputation for being very doctrinaire, very jargony. Not everybody from a sales background. In fact, a lot of people from sales background get turned off as soon as you say Six Sigma, but there are some very valuable underlying principles that apply in sales. And I don’t want to assume that the audience knows the jargon and stuff.

And so I thought I would ask you to tell us on example, two steps here. The first step is, tell us an example of some problems that were taking place when you first started doing Six Sigma work. What were the problems that were taking place in the business that couldn’t be solved without taking this Six Sigma approach? So what were they struggling with? Why couldn’t they fix it on their own? What did this DMAIC, right? Define, measure … this Six Sigma. Why was that needed?

Charles Chen:    Yeah. Yeah, totally. Let me use an example from my very first project, even at GE. This division at GE is GE Equipment Services. GE Equipment Services they own a lot of assets. And this division in particular own billions of dollars of tractor and trailers. So Michael, if you’re going down the highway, you see a 46-foot or 53-foot tractor going down shipping something, that tractor in the back, a huge percentage of those in North America are owned by General Electric. Pretty profound, right? They built aircraft engines, but they also own assets like that.

One thing very, very fundamental about that sort of asset I think everybody can appreciate is how do you make money on that asset? You make them money, you own the product itself, you own it. The moment it sits on your lot it’s depreciating. It’s just like an airplane, a commercial airplane. The moment it sits on the tarmac you’re losing money. You’ve got to get that thing flying all the time. The same thing with these tractors and trailers.

So what typically happened when I joined that part of GE is, they have hundreds of thousands of these tractors and trailers, spontaneously, suddenly, a whole fleet of them shows up at the GE site. Then the salespeople are running around with their heads mad, trying to get them out the door again. Some of them sit there for months. Every month is losing money. So that was a fundamental issue. It’s like their barely making it and everything was reactive, and how do we know that these things are coming back and make sure they don’t come back? Or if they come back as barely a touchpoint and then boom, they’re back out with the same customer, or with a different customer, or the best part is they don’t even come back in the first place. So that was the fundamental problem they’re trying to solve. Yeah. So the project how I got involved. Yeah, go ahead.

Michael Webb: Why couldn’t they solve it? I mean I’m sure there was lots of people who could see the problem. Why did you have to do Six Sigma to solve it?

Charles Chen:    Yeah, I think there’s a combinations of that. This division of GE was fairly recently acquired. So a lot of the folks in the senior leadership chain came from GE. So they have a Six Sigma background. And in fact, most of them were Black Belts and Master Black Belts. At the same time, you still have the traditional folks on the site who got acquired with the company. So there was a culture change in the first place. How do you get everybody to recognize that we got to solve this problem together and look at it from a different way?

Michael Webb: And as opposed to everybody, you stay in your own lane, I’m doing a good job. Leave me alone.

Charles Chen:    That’s right. That’s right. As long as I’m making money, as long as I am a seller, I make money, I meet my quota, I’m good. But the cost to the company, which this eludes to, is very real and very material. And to really bring up the margins, you’ve got to worry about both. And there has always been complaints from the sales team that when they want to get trailers out, they don’t have enough trailers. Or they’re being bombarded by requests from managers to, hey, I got you to find a way to find homes for 4,000 new trailers. So that added pressure and friction is very real for the company.

Michael Webb: Okay. All right. So that’s the problem. And it’s pressure and it’s not being solved and people aren’t cooperating. What does Six Sigma bring?

Charles Chen:    Yeah. So I was … so Six Sigma, actually approaches in the very traditional DMAIC approach, but let’s take a step back and not go into the extreme technical details of that. Fundamentally, as a salesperson, as a senior manager, you want to have a pulse on all your assets, all these expensive assets. You want to know sometime before they have a tendency to come back, you already know about them. You want early warnings, early signals that any one of these trailers could be coming back to the company.

So what I did was I work with the executive management chain and the sales leadership and say, what is the most sensible way that we can put together a process that gives us early warnings, at least six months ahead of when you know where you have a trailer is coming back? If that trailer you know that’s coming back six months before, we need to have a process to reallocate it to another customer who need it. Or you’ve got to work with the same customer to do another multi-year lease so the trailer doesn’t come back in the first place.

So the project was actually focused on 100% visibility on trailer status six months before expiration. That was the project focus. Once we have six months and the leadership can action on that. Yeah. So Michael, so what we did was, how do you get 100% visibility to a trailer status? We didn’t have a system in process to set up. So in the interim, I actually set up our before the … how should I say that? A former version of early, early version of SharePoint and then we had to go in and provide status.

Not everything Michael. You and I don’t need to worry about one or two trailers coming back. 80/20 rule, right? Which biggest fleets of trailers are potentially running out of leads exactly where they should be at six months before expiration date? And that’s what the project focused on.

Michael Webb: Okay.

Charles Chen:    And yeah, so we went from no baseline to we got to about 95%. We knew 95% of the trailers, six months before coming home, what the disposition status is. Are they going to be extended, are they going to come home? And the ones who are going to be coming home those are the ones the executive leadership and the sales leaders immediately action on. The bottom line is they shouldn’t have come home.

And that was what my project was focused on. And it made a fundamental change to the way the company operated. It’s about early warning, it’s knowing how things operated early so we can action on it. It’s knowing it’s going from reactive, to proactive and the, yeah, that was my very first Green Belt project.

Michael Webb: Excellent. Okay. And so I think that’s a really good example. So some observations and then you, because you’re the master Black Belt, I’m not. I’m just a Black Belt. But let me hit through these. I think of these DMAIC or PDCA, plan, do check, act, right? These methods as they’re like the bumper rails on the bowling alley. Right? And your mind, you’re thinking is the bowling ball, like keep it on track to solving the problem, right?

Charles Chen:    That’s right.

Michael Webb: And so you define the problem and you realize that people in different parts of the organization are seeing it differently, but you have to have a common vision of what’s that is. And then you get to the measure, which is like what are we observing and how do we know and how much is going on of this problem? Right? And then you analyze, once you have that data coming from measure and now you’re analyzing, well, 80/20 which are the biggest, the few things we could change that would have the biggest impact. And that gives you a clue as to what changes might be required. That’s your improve phase. And then you pointed out they had to have a fundamental change to the way the business operates to the system. That’s the control phase, right? They make sure that those changes stay in place.

I had a fellow tell me one time, this is just I’m fanatically committed to common sense. Right? That’s what he called DMAIC. That’s what he called Six Sigma. And that’s really what it is. Is that fair?

Charles Chen:    Yeah. Oh, very fair. It’s doing what’s sensible for the business. Right? Every project that myself and my built or my team have done in the past, I have never ever advocated DMAIC for the sake of DMAIC, it’s always about what is fundamentally important for the customer or my stakeholders? And then use the most sensible approach or tool. And so doing the way that everybody embraced and everybody moves forward together. That is really critical.

Michael Webb: So in that case, the difference is the problem solving has to take place not just between a single person’s ears but in a group of people working as a team on the same system. Right?

Charles Chen:    Absolutely.

Michael Webb: Right. So now let’s transition to the second part of the topic or the way of thinking about this, which would be applying this, these bumper rails to our thinking and applying it to something that’s actually a sales process in an organization. Where it’s not just availability of equipment or uptime or quality problem or whatever, it is actually getting people we don’t even know to talk to us and ultimately to buy from us. Right?

Charles Chen:    Yeah.

Michael Webb: So the question is for you is I’d like you to tell me an example of a problem that the sales organization was having. And they tried really hard and they couldn’t solve it. And then what did this Six Sigma thinking approach, this operational excellence sort of rational problem solving, what did it bring and then what result was enabled to bring it?

Charles Chen:    Yeah, great question. Great question Michael. So allow me to use an example, I did as a project I ran for Microsoft. This project took place about four years ago. It was called objection handling. I believe your audience will listen to this podcast who have skills background. Everybody knows what lead conversion rate is. Marketing spends a lot of money, do field marketing, do full marketing, do trial account marketing. And what they do, they fundamentally generate the lead. They send out to the sales team.

What you want to do is convert as many as those leads to opportunities. And once it becomes an opportunity you want that to go as fast as possible. Or the biggest revenue that resulted from those opportunities as possible. So this project was focused on lead conversion rate. So about four years ago I got involved with this project focused on the US Microsoft Telesales team. It was about Office 365 trial lease conversion rates.

So the sales leaders were very gracious to invite me in. They said, Charles, we got the improved lead conversion rates. So I say, okay, let’s take a step back guys. What fundamentally impacts lead conversion rates? So the sales leaders were in the room and we white boarded, and we did a little bit affinitizing exercise. Which is meaning everybody’s silently come up with ideas and we vote. So everybody agrees there’s two most fundamental things that changes lead conversion rates at the point of contact with a customer.

Number one is lead quality. If the quality is really good, if the quality is awesome, Michael sales just need to do a very, very, very little. But most of the time we don’t always get that right. Right? Yeah. So the other point that being believed is about objection handling. At the point of sale, when a customer has an objection it can be, I can’t talk right now, I don’t have a need, I don’t have the money, I’m not interested, I don’t trust Microsoft. All these combinations are called objection handling. And they said, how do we overcome objections better?

That’s what they tasked all of us to do as a team. So how do we leverage this process Six Sigma discipline approach to handle this? First and foremost, how would you define objections, customer objections? So that’s the first thing we did. We spent quite, I want to say a lot of time, I will say about one month defining the definition of objections. And ensuring that when we, everybody looks at it, they look at the same way. If you’re not aligned on the fundamental problem, that detailed definition, the problem, you might be doing frivolous actions that may not help it. It’s about thinning the bases, right? That’s the first step. And the next step is data collection.

And objection handling and especially with a customer conversation, it’s pretty subjective. So we didn’t have automated AI assistance to detect it. So we actually, as myself and a few managers, would just jump on sales people’s calls and listen to the conversation and collect data.

Michael Webb: Just take notes.

Charles Chen:    Just take notes. So Michael, this is the baseline. What we found out, we listened to probably 500 calls. Out of 500 calls, we have 67 distinct objections, 67. Out of those 67 distinct objections, what we found out was only 33% of the objections were overcome. One out of three objections at the point of interaction with the customer were overcome. The rest of 67%, are lead closed.

Michael Webb: So there’s your baseline.

Charles Chen:    That was my baseline. That was my baseline.

Michael Webb: So that way when you make a change, you’ll be able to tell if you create an improvement or not. Let me interject here for a moment. That is one of the biggest challenges that I see and experienced … I spent more than seven years in a sales training organization. And it’s a good sales training organization. And unfortunately, and it’s because the clients aren’t asking for it, but very few people in that industry understand measurement. And so they bring this great process and if you just do these behaviors then you’re going to get better results. But that process comes with a cost. It takes more time.

Charles Chen:    It does. Takes time.

Michael Webb: People have to work harder. It doesn’t always apply in every situation and yet, so they’re looking for a few of the salespeople to actually implement those behaviors and they work, and great success. And the sales, they, well you need field coaching but there ends up being no data telling you, right? What behaviors, what were the causes of an increase in conversion or not?

And for the sales organization, you’d only work harder for so long, right? You have new people burn out. You’re tired of working 60 hours a week for five years. This is just another thing we have to do. So they need a way to be tangible to see that things are getting better. And that requires a measurement system. And a measurement system that isn’t bullshit that the salespeople can respect. Right? So that’s a huge thing that I think that this operational excellence methodology brings. So I mean tell me more.

Charles Chen:    Yeah. So just to follow up on what you just said, right, like knowing fundamentally as a sales advisor to them, I needed to advise them on how to handle this. Because I knew this was going to take time, especially on data that’s that subjective. That only you can capture through listening. You need to put a little bit of boundaries around this team and get the sponsor and the champion to give you the room to do that. And I spent quite a bit of time with the sponsor and with the champion to say to do this right we need ring-fenced team and ring-fenced time to do this properly. Without that, this data will be very subjective.

Michael Webb: Also where do you use rings sense? What is that?

Charles Chen:    That, yeah, ring-fence. You want the ring-fence, a little bit of space, to be space and time to do the projects the right way.

Michael Webb: Okay. I’m not familiar with this word. Spell it for me. I’m missing something. R-I-N-G-S-E-N-S-E?

Charles Chen:    R-I-N-G-F-E-N-C-E. Yeah.

Michael Webb: So ring you mean like, like you’re in the ring with them. Is that what you’re thinking?

Charles Chen:    Yeah, I’m in the ring with them.

Michael Webb: I’ve never heard that.

Charles Chen:    Yeah. And let that team be our beta, our alfa or beta testing team. Right? Yeah. So they still had to meet their targets, but they’re really going to leaning into this project with me. So yeah, I was able to buy time with them. And yeah. So what happened from that point on is this. We collected these data points, but these are just the outcome. That’s the baseline. This was a very, very in-depth project is that every time we collect in the data on objection, there was other factors that we saw with impact objection handling. And then we want to do analysis, see correlations, right?

And so we also collected data on customer mood and tone, time of the week, time of the day, age and tenure. There was a thought that the more tenure the agent, the seller, the more of their ability to overcome objection was higher. There was also discussion on customer size. And so for every time we collected the objection handling, yes or no outcome, we also collected about 10 data points that goes with that so we can do analysis.

Ultimate in this, we ran the analysis and all this spiel, we always found out was 9 out of those 10 data points, didn’t even matter. Customer, seller’s tenure didn’t matter. Time of the day didn’t matter. A time of day didn’t matter. What mattered the most is at the point of contact. Did you fundamentally focus on customer needs? It’s a black and white yes or no, discrete answer. The managers had to listen to your two specific questions to assess whether the sellers really understand needs.

Number one, did they spend time fundamentally understanding the customer’s model and how Microsoft products helping them? And number two, did they spend time asking their current products needs, and the gaps, how potential other products could or cannot help them. The focus is not about, I’m selling to you. The focus is about you tell me your problems and let me come up with options to help you.

I tell you the moment that happened, all the other objections just didn’t happen. When that didn’t happen, objections are popping up like daisies. You know what I mean? It’s like customers are a little irritated. They feel like you’re pushing to me. I don’t want to talk to you, oh, this is too expensive. Hey, I actually don’t trust you right now. I heard that quite a bit. Fundamentally, if I just focus on needs complete outside in focus and which is what Six Sigma is about anyway, the other objection just dissolved.

And while we also ran it into the model, what we found out was every time a seller laser-focused on customer needs, the probability overcome the objections has an odd ratio of 370 to 1. It’s kind of like rolling the dice. What is your chance of rolling on the sixth is one out every six, right? When you’re rolling the dice. But based on the odds ratio ran by this very enhanced statistical model, if you do that, if we just laser-focused on customer needs, that odds ratio is 370 to 1.

Michael Webb: Wow.

Charles Chen:    Very intense. And so what we did ultimately, we fundamentally changed the way … we didn’t even change lead quality, but just based on instilling that new approach with this sales team, their lead conversion rate went from about 7.5 to 13.8%.

Michael Webb: Almost doubled.

Charles Chen:    Almost double. And we also tone it down too. We didn’t say, okay, that entire differences is ours because everybody on this call who listened to you know that other factors impact sales. So we took that down 30% so that difference we multiply by 0.7 and that’s what the project gave back to the team. Yeah. So that was an example of how leveraging Six Sigma and like your friends said, it’s about common sense, laser focus on the common sense. Prove it with data and get everybody to go with you.

Michael Webb: Right, right. It’s amazing how all those other theories that people would heartfelt belief, it’s of course, the longer you’re here, the more experience you have. Of course, the more salesy your personality is, the better you’re going to do. And then you put data on it in this situation and all that stuff melts away.

Charles Chen:    It’s about trust, it’s about trust. Yeah. It’s about trust.

Michael Webb: It’s about trust. Meaning the data helps create a trusting environment? Is that what you mean?

Charles Chen:    No it’s about when you laser for this specific sales scenario.

Michael Webb: Oh customer trust.

Charles Chen:    Yeah. It’s about the customer trust. And the first thing you’ve got to do on the call is to earn that trust. And the earning that trust, you can’t demand it. You do it through action you do it through really being there for the customer. I’m here and I’m so gracious. I’m so grateful that you gave me time. I want to focus on you and I want my focus is about fixing your problems. And yeah, most of the time that conversation just goes very, very well.

Michael Webb: And so the traditional focus of management and it makes sense. You can understand where executives are coming from. We’re spending a lot of money to have salespeople there. We want to have the best salespeople. We want to have the best return for our investment in the sales organization. And so we expect them to produce and of course we’re going to measure the performance of our salespeople by how much they produce. And so they start measuring that one thing, but they’re not measuring the causes of that production. Right? They’re not measuring this is a salesperson creating trust?

And notice your project started out around a problem defined around handling objections. You have a low conversion rate of the sales process and only 13 and half percent I think of the objections were actually answered. And what you ended up realizing was that we had to solve the trust problem. We had to get salespeople to focus on the customer’s issues, and the objections went away.

You learned the cause and effect system there. And I think that’s something that every salesperson would know kind of by instinct. Of course, that’s the case. But they couldn’t articulate it in a way. And then salespeople are only stuck with their own sphere of influence. They can control their own behaviors. They can’t control their manager’s behaviors. They can’t control the marketing department.

Oh, this gives them sort of an operating system for identifying the causes and effects so that we can make sales easier for everybody, and be able to shine a light on those individuals who are really doing a good job and provide guidance and support for the people who are struggling. It’s just a radical difference in the way the organization can be managed and the productivity that can be achieved from it.

Charles Chen:    Yeah. Yeah. So Michael, yeah. A lot of, when I think about like a sales team, right? The Six Sigma, like the approach that you and I just talked about, you and I may not impact the exceptional sellers. Those folks are creating magic because there’s something unique about them. This program that I talked about listed on average, the entire organization now, but the exceptional ones they may or may not benefited from this, it’s probably just a reminder for them, you know what I mean?

It is the average ones or the newer ones or the ones who don’t quite get it yet, they approach sales a bit robotically focused on features. Focus on their own company. This Six Sigma does this kind of approach lifts on average an entire organization up, so we avoid what you will call elephant hunt. Have you heard the term elephant hunting in sales?

Michael Webb: Looking for the biggest, baddest, largest accounts that we can get, the big deals, the whales.

Charles Chen:    Yeah. You look for … if you lead a team of eight people, you have two or three people that are exceptional killing it and you leave those two alone. The rest of the five, what happens if they’re not making numbers? And sales manager’s tendency will be naturally to focus on the elephant deals. Trying to make the numbers.

Michael Webb: 80/20 rule. Right?

Charles Chen:    Exactly. But this discipline, this example that you and I talked about, is about lifting everybody up in a very systematic way. In a very consistent way. Right? So yeah.

Michael Webb: And it’s not done. As I recall, there was another chapter to the story that remains perhaps to be done because there was a deal. You were talking about deal quality. Can you say something about that issue?

Charles Chen:    Absolutely. So the way we disposition leads, so let’s just say 100 leads come in, a percentage becomes opportunities, and which is that 13 point something percent I just share with you earlier, the rest of the 86.5% what happened to them? What we did is look through those data intensely and go, okay, which ones are true that this is a legitimate, we’re not going to proceed, but which ones are ones that shouldn’t even come to our sellers in the first place? If a lead has no chance ever, ever, even 1% chance of becoming an opportunity, why are we spending our sellers time on that? Because that’s very expensive resources you can imagine.

Yeah, so as I work with the sales leaders in that group to really dig in, what we found out is that almost 50% of the disqualify leads, so out of that 86.5% I just mentioned, half of that were leads that came from what you would call a Microsoft partner. So what is a Microsoft partner? Microsoft sells a lot of our products through our partners. Like you have partners out there who sell our products directly to the customer because the customer may need additional integration help. Yeah. So as simple as that.

So half of the disqualify leads, were actually Microsoft partners. And I listened to numerous of these calls. We call and say, hey, I notice you have one of our products as a trial. How is that working for you? Can you tell me where your customer wanted to go? Oh, I’m a, oh, this is who I am. And I’m just trying to play with this tool to serve another customer. Oh, they’re a Microsoft partner. Those, they can play with our products as much as they want. They are totally entitled to it, but those are not the ones that we need to sell to because they’re selling our products.

Michael Webb: Right.

Charles Chen:    So yeah.

Michael Webb: So the salesforce has to call them up anyway because they come in as a lead.

Charles Chen:    Yeah. Because salesforce are also, how should I say it? They are also mandated to make sure you cannot have leads sitting more than two or three weeks in your inbox. Because as days go leads age, and the more they age the customer attention is less. So yeah. So I work upstream with a Microsoft product group and directly went to their marketing group and we realized that the way we sign up for leads is we let everybody sign in and we ask three or four fundamental questions about them.

We just want their contact info, address, and a few other things. And that’s it. After that, they’re totally entitled to download the one month, the trial account. Yes. So our next focus with them was about how do we get rid of partner leads? Don’t just don’t create them as a lead and forward down to our sellers. Yeah. So that was the next phase of the project. And I got to be very transparent with you, Michael. That happened about four years ago and unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in that change.

Michael Webb: Well, and looking at it as I recall looking at it from the marketer’s point of view, look, we don’t want to add friction and ask a whole other question on the page. We have to make this be very, very simple for them. So no, we’re not going to change it. Unwittingly, sub-optimizing as they say, the whole system.

Charles Chen:    Yeah, yeah, yeah. And also like to make that kind of fundamental change it really required the most, most, most, most up chain of the level and marketing executive leadership and sales leadership to have an agreement.

Michael Webb: And which leads to another theme that I keep hitting on all the time, that senior executives are the ones with the most to gain by understanding what these little simple bumper guides on our thinking. Right? What’s the objective to get the ball down the bowling alley to hit the pins and how do we stay on track? You got to have understanding variation, systems thinking, value to the customer, cause and effect, and do experiments, and unfortunately, that is not the natural operating system of most corporations especially large ones.

Charles Chen:    Yeah. I think a big part of it, I can understand the predicament they’re in. Most public traded corporations, and I ran into this all the time internally. Is that sales leadership are measured on a monthly and quarterly, every month did you make your monthly budget or quota? Every quarterly did you meet it? That kind of cycle time is pretty stressful. I’ve been in there with them, I get it.

And so as a result when running this sort of project, which can take a little bit longer than a monthly cycle time, it takes a lot of convincing. At the same time, if your vision is to really have a lasting long-term impact on the company, the investment is worth it. And that’s why people like me need to approach them in a sensible way. Right?

You can’t pound your chest and demand DMAIC that just, it doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to give the executives what they need right now and then let them see the value of this when done right. Just like what I said, it’s focusing on the need. But even when you have the right medicine, you got to feed it over and help in the way that the patient or your most critical client is ready for it. And a lot of people lose sight of that. And they run into an immovable object. And it can give this discipline an underserved name.

Michael Webb: So thanks to individuals like yourself, we now are getting more stories of real corporations and real people solving real problems using real scientific approaches rather than chutzpah and working harder and the traditional stuff that many sales organizations fall back on. And so I really appreciate the time and your willingness to participate here Charles, this has been great. If someone wants to learn more about you or get a hold of you, how would they do it?

Charles Chen:    Yeah, the best way is find me in LinkedIn. My LinkedIn profile is very straight forward. Charles T Chen C-H-E-N or yeah, just go there.

Michael Webb: Charles T as in Tom?

Charles Chen:    As in Tom. Yeah. And then my contact info is all in there. And like I mentioned-

Michael Webb: You work for Microsoft currently, right?

Charles Chen:    Yeah. I’m in Microsoft currently. I never say no to a good conversation.

Michael Webb: That sounds wonderful. I really appreciate your time here. I know a lot of people are going to be commenting on this interview because we were able to get enough down into the weeds to make it real. But we were able to look at the overall big picture. So well done. Thank you very much. We’ll be talking again in the future I’m sure. Take care.

Charles Chen:    Thank you so much, Michael. Bye. Bye.

Michael Webb: Bye Bye everyone.


Michael Webb

Michael Webb founded Sales Performance Consultants to create a data-driven alternative to the slogans and shallow impact offered by typical sales training, sales consulting, and CRM companies. Michael helped organize and delivered the keynote speeches for the first conferences ever held on applying Six Sigma to marketing and sales. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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