SPIF! Benefiting Your Company and Your Customer Simultaneously

This election year has been unusual as far as truth is concerned.

For example, Leslie and I were in line to vote today for 90 minutes. I kept showing her the comments people were making on Twitter. Some included links to today’s newspaper articles, accompanied by dozens of “colorful” reader’s comments, where those readers exposed their beliefs for all to see. 

Finding insightful comments was difficult. Most were as raw, unfair, emotion laden and even idiotic as I have ever seen anywhere. It is pretty sobering to realize what so many people believe.

So, the phone is now turned off, and I’m working – an area where not only does the truth matter, but it is something we can generally do something about.

Here’s something good: I recommend that you check out Jill Konrath’s Thursday teleseminar “www.saleskaizen.com teleseminar tomorrow at 3:00 Eastern time.

 The response has been huge – well over 200 registrations so far.

 I’m planning some big announcements (and an offer you can’t refuse), so if you are not on the list, go sign up right now. www.saleskaizen.com

 Michael Webb

November 4, 2008


Benefiting Your Company and Your Customer Simultaneously

Years ago, I was a first-line sales manager at a business forms company. One January, my district manager presented the new company strategy. He excitedly explained the new slogan for the year, and described a different type of ideal prospect we should start looking for in our prospecting. There were some new product announcements. Then, he announced a sales contest with some pricey prizes if we exceeded quota, like gold watches, ski-mobiles, and expensive vacations.

We all went about our jobs with these new things in mind. We were already coming in on Saturdays, and working late during the week, so is not as if the contest suddenly made us start working harder. (I was even trying to increase our productivity using an Apple computer – but that was too far out for most corporate minds at the time.)

My team did well. We exceeded quota in some areas, not in others. At the end of the year, we didn’t really have any more of those “ideal customers” than we had before.  

Net benefit to the company?

Pffft. Pffft. One rookie got to take home a new barbeque pit. I won a fancy watch. Not much else changed inside the company. Nothing changed to improve our order-entry systems, our pricing strategies, or the holes in our product lines.  

Net benefit to customers?

Pffft. Pffft. Our customers were still frustrated around the same old problems they always had with us, like late deliveries and high prices.

A few years later I worked at a minicomputer company (MAI Basic Four). When their product was visibly better than that of competitors of the day, they were a high-flyer in the stock market. Salespeople were taught a transactional selling strategy: Find somebody shopping for a minicomputer and show them ours. Most of the time, you could get an order. Good salespeople were making $100k or even $200k in those markets in the late seventies. No sales contest needed!

By the early eighties, however, their competitors had caught up. Computer hardware was being commoditized and our growth slowed dramatically.

Then, a brilliant sales VP emerged from the Canadian market. He realized that the value had moved up-stream. So, he deployed his sales force in a different way. We were asked to become experts in selling business software to specific industries (mine became manufacturing companies). Instead of looking for people who wanted to buy a minicomputer, we looked for people who wanted to increase ROI on work-in-process inventory or increase customer service levels (product availability).

The new sales process required a dramatic shift from salespeople. We had to learn tons of new information. We had to learn how to get our customers to tell us their problems. We had to be able to understand and really help them solve those problems. The deals were bigger, more complex, and harder to close. They required us to work with independent software companies. Lots of older salespeople washed out.

And, the new sales process gave the company at least four more years of good growth.

What a difference in management and leadership! 

To be a successful salesperson at MAI you had to have more technical, business, and interpersonal savvy. You had to become someone your customer respected.

I grew a lot as a salesperson and became a semi-expert at selling production and inventory control systems. I was even elected President of the St. Louis Chapter of APICS (American Production and Inventory Control Society).

I didn’t know it then, but the seeds had been planted in my brain for a much more powerful way of managing sales and marketing: one that creates value for customers, and can be measured and managed like a production system.

It has been a long time coming, but now it is ready. And you can learn about it Wednesday November 5 at 3:00 pm Eastern.

Visit www.saleskaizen.com to learn:

How a Sales Kaizen Event Can Put

Rocket Power and Guidance Systems

Into Your Sales Process





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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