Does Anybody Use Six Sigma in Sales and Marketing?

Here’s an interesting posting from Linked In you might not have seen: Ray Stahl, Director of Business Development at Xiotech Corporation, asked this question:

Does anybody use Six Sigma in Sales & Marketing?

I am interested to see if Six Sigma, which was very popular based on GE’s Jack Welsh driving billions of dollars to the bottom line back in the late 90’s, is still be promoted in the Sales and Marketing organization?

Is it being done by internally trained Black Belts or consultants?

Here was my response:

My name is Michael Webb, and I’m the author of “Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way” (Kaplan, 2006). In answer to your question, “Does anybody use Six Sigma in Sales and Marketing?” the answer is yes.

As you might have surmised, the potential gains from applying data-oriented, problem-solving approaches such as Six Sigma (and its cousin, Lean thinking) to sales and marketing are enormous. I illustrate just some of the many powerful financial and strategic outcomes in the book. Stories from J&J and HSBC Bank come to mind, as well as from smaller companies.

You also asked “Whether it is being done by trained black belts or consultants.” I would say, first of all, that trained black belts are generally not equipped to do Six Sigma for sales and marketing.

That is because most Six Sigma training programs focus on the technical side of the discipline. Unfortunately, applying Six Sigma and Lean to sales and marketing is NOT primarily a technical problem. “Sheep dipping” salespeople and their managers in a traditional Six Sigma training program is a waste of time and money most companies cannot and should not have to afford, at least not at first.

The Six Sigma industry is largely comprised of training companies that make money putting buns in seats. They are virtually identical to the sales training industry in this regard, and have a similar track record (ie, pretty spotty). This is one reason Six Sigma in sales and marketing has not spread as quickly as some people thought it would.

There are other reasons as well. For one, you can’t see and touch (and measure) the value being created like you can in manufacturing.

That doesn’t mean value isn’t being created or that it can’t be measured in sales and marketing. Far from it. It does mean you have to develop the right way of measuring so marketers and sellers can have hard data telling them daily whether they are creating value or waste. Most people who have worked in sales and marketing environments can vouch for the waste and inefficiency that goes on. They just can’t find a way to help their organization stop doing it!

The companies that accomplish this will have dramatic advantages over their competitors.

If this subject interests you, might enjoy checking out There is lots of free information and resources.


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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