Why Don’t Six Sigma Training Companies Sell the Six Sigma Way?

A prominent Six Sigma training company recently packaged their 16-page color brochure along with an issue of an internationally recognized process improvement magazine. Inside, the “Message from the President” read:

“Dear Valued Customer:
We wanted to bring you up to date on a few of the experiences we’ve had at [Our Company] these past few months. We’ve been working with global companies that are expanding their Six Sigma companies to include DMADV–especially in transactional companies. We’re also working with organizations that use process management to help with acquisitions and other strategic initiatives. Additionally, we’ve taken on many exciting new projects, including Voice of the Customer (VOC) and process management assignments in which we’re working with executive teams to structure an enterprise-wide initiative. …”

Be honest … instead of reading that, didn’t you skip to here looking for the point?

Now, I’m sure the good people in this company are extremely educated about traditional process improvement. Yet whoever wrote that doesn’t know the first thing about process improvement in marketing and selling. This paragraph (as well as the rest of the brochure) is a classic example of how to waste tons of money: be self-absorbed, product focused, and boring.

What value is created for you in the paragraph above? Why should you read it?

The answer is none, so you won’t read it. It is self-absorbed. It offers vague generalities (blah) instead of specifics (punch). There is no call to action in the entire piece, so it literally has no point! Even if the piece produces some minimal return, (which is doubtful), as a prospect you didn’t pay for this effort with your attention, or your time (much less your money); As a result, it mostly adds noise to the world and consumes trees, which amounts to waste (who can afford that these days?).

Of course they are not the only ones with this problem. This style of promotion is common, especially in the Six Sigma industry, unfortunately (though not all the companies are this bad). Further, selling process improvement is far from easy (ever try to sell diet and exercise?).

Still, violate the axioms of process improvement at your own peril. The first axiom of sales process improvement is the same as all the other kinds of process improvement:

“Everything you do to find, gain, and keep customers must create value for them!”

Why couldn’t the brochure have contained headlines like these:

  • Simple Design Decisions That Reduce Time to Market 33%
  • Unique Training Makes Managers Effective in Half the Time!
  • Three Companies Solve Six Sigma’s Dirty Little Secret: How to Sustain the Gains

There is only one way to know if you’ve created value for customers and prospects: you get them to take an action. The first action is giving you their attention (if you’ve earned it). The second is giving you their time (you’ve got to really earn this!). Then, and only then, can you have the opportunity show them why they should spend their money.

In sales and marketing, everything else is muda (waste).

Michael Webb
Sept 4, 2006


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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