Lean Sales Baby Steps

Introducing Lean to sales teams can run into the overall resistance against process, structure and creativity. The more strategic sales processes get the more likely the resistance. We can find many successful implementations of lean in mass marketing, inside sales, call centers, telesales and customer service functions that deal with discrete repeatable elements of work: phone calls, campaigns and events. There are much fewer lean approaches in complex enterprise sales environments where processes are extremely variable (whether they should be or not) and great salespeople are treated more like rock stars and artists than assembly workers.

I do believe high growth sales organizations need to ease into Lean in a few ways:
– focus on the principles not the tools (hint: few salespeople want six sigma talks)
– emphasize that process waste is directly waste of selling time, revenues and thus commissions and bonuses

Start with easier rules:

1) make work visual (Kanban boards or weekly plans) and have daily/weekly/monthly plans (great salespeople are planners)
2) reduce non-customer facing activity like admin and reporting (most salespeople will LOVE this)
3) reduce the number of things being juggled (few customers provide most revenues – serve them best)
4) solve problems together (everyone should help the salespeople to win, because they represent the voice of the customer)

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