Shingo Examiner Feedback on “Sales Process Excellence”
Submission Title: Sales Process Excellence
Author Name(s): Michael J. Webb
A team of Shingo examiners has provided the following feedback. The team rated the submission based on the following categories.
Contribution to new knowledge and understanding of operational excellence
Michael Webb has articulated the why and how of continuous improvement in a context and with language and examples that will resonate for persons in sales and marketing. While the “market-in versus product-out” concept has been floating around in the lean world for many years, it has essentially been treated in the past as a footnote to lean manufacturing. Sales Process Excellence is directed squarely at sales and marketing and covers many more aspects of the selling process than previously seen. The author’s examples speak from personal experience and are very credible.
This groundbreaking book addresses a function that has not normally fallen into the lean or continuous improvement sphere. It gives a thorough explanation of how to use lean principles to improve the sales process, and uses a transformative approach and step-by-step process of the tools and systems that one would use to improve the sales process and makes them easily understandable for a non-lean practitioner. Each chapter presents a new tool that goes in-depth in providing the function of the tool as well as the effect it will have on the sales process.
The author breaks down every step of the sales production process – finding, winning and keeping customers – and applies lean thinking and tools to develop processes. At a high level, he demonstrates that marketing, sales and service comprise one value stream and should be managed as such rather than trying to optimize individual areas. He also demonstrates how to focus on quality rather than quantity, how to attack the bottleneck, how to identify waste, standard work, bowling charts, etc. The parallel is that just as in manufacturing, where we try and move from craftsman with individual methods to best practice processes, the same dynamics take place in the sales production process. Examiners like the analogies describing how sales needs to be doing the right work at the right time with the right prospects. Finally, the author emphasizes that the scientific methods are crucial and hypotheses must be tested, appropriate metrics must be maintained, and PDCA applies.
Potential for significant impact on practice and sustainability of performance improvements
The style of Sales Process Excellence challenges traditional sales and marketing beliefs and practice in a manner that is challenging but not off-putting. Mr. Webb displays an empathy and personal understanding of the sales function that lends credibility to his thesis. He has taken concepts from Edward Deming and TPS, and presented them with examples from sales that will resonate with that audience. The concept of a “sales production system” is a masterful way to translate TPS in the realm of selling and customer acquisition. Using specific cases, he makes strong arguments for changes to sales and marketing processes and organization. And he wisely elevates the challenge for this breakthrough to top management, without whom policy and organizational changes are unattainable. This is a very thought provoking and engaging work, and examiners feel it will have significant impact on the executive level down through the sales and marketing functions. It provides practical knowledge and has the potential to provide sustainable performance improvements to the entire organization.
As previously noted, the author’s premise is right on target, dealing with one more missing piece. So much has been written previously on TPS as it relates to production, but almost nothing on the sales system. Shotaro Kamiya, the “god of sales” hired by Kiichiro Toyoda away from Nippon GM in 1935, had this to say about the Toyota sales system: “The customer comes first, the dealer second, and the manufacturer third.” Mr. Webb has brought this concept forward to the 21st century, providing tangible, relatable examples to sales, marketing, distribution and service. The author achieved his premise by showing how sound processes will take the frustration out of the sales process, create capacity, improve the quality of the sales funnel and ultimately lead to more satisfied customers and companies. Examiners strongly hope this book will be widely read by sales and marketing professionals and top managers.
Sales Process Excellence is a well-organized easy-to-read text that covers the sales process knowledgably and completely. The book not only provides a sound technical instruction for employing the tools of lean in the sales setting, but also is respectful of and sympathetic to the actual current conditions facing sales today. It doesn’t read like a book about sales written by someone from operations. While the concepts may not be universally new, they will definitely be new to organizations with status quo sales functions. There has been a great need for sales and marketing to be treated as an interdependent part of the business rather than a lonesome end. This book provides a compelling reason for that to occur and is written from the perspective and in the language of sales and marketing associates. Excellent work!
Visit www.salesprocessexcellence.com today, to get your copy or download the Intro and Chapter One for free. Let me know what YOU think!