There seems to be many reasons why sales teams struggle to adopt Lean. Apart from repetitive and structured sales areas like inside sales, complex and large account selling is perceived to be more of an art than science. Mostly because the great salespeople in large value sales functions are treated more like rock stars than line workers.
While all large sales organizations have established sales processes and training, in my experience most practitioners follow their gut and not the defined process except in areas of compliance and approvals.
There are great opportunities for all organizations to define the Perfect Sales Cycle (as standard work) and measure the effectiveness and efficiency around the defined process.
A good first step towards this goal is making the team’s actual tasks and activities visible to themselves and the team. The Kanban Method that works so well in the creative work of software development is perfect for the creative art and science of sales as well.
Going back to the 2 rules of Kanban has and will transform many sales teams on their eventual Lean journey:
1) make work visible (put everything on your team’s Kanban board)
2) limit work in progress (juggle only a few things every day, week and month)
I use both a physical kanban board in my office for my global team and Trello for virtual kanban board for all to see. Everyone on the global team sees everyone else’s tasks.
Once the Lean journey starts, the non-value added tasks will shrink by 40-50% and that immediately doubles the available selling time. Once selling time doubles, so does customer satisfaction, revenues, commissions and overall team rewards.
And that as we know, more than anything, will convince sales teams to get with the program…