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Think About It… the e-book version » Sales Management

Archive for the ‘Sales Management’ Category.

Value, Value Stream, Flow, Pull, Perfection

by Todd Youngblood

Manufacturing executives said it didn’t apply to them. (They were dead wrong.) Software development executives said it didn’t apply to them. (They were dead wrong.) Business & technology services executives said it didn’t apply to them. (They were dead wrong.) Sales executives, managers and professionals KNOW FOR SURE it doesn’t apply to them. And of course they are right. Right?

Right off the top… If you already know that “Lean” management concepts don’t apply to sales, STOP reading right now and go do something else.

If you’re still with me, you have at least a vague inkling that a visceral understanding and application of Lean principles can have a dramatic effect on sales effectiveness. (…and, oh baby, can it!!!) Think about your sales process in terms of the 5 Lean basics:

  • Value – Answer two questions about each activity you perform. What value does it provide to the customer? What value does it provide to your company? If your answer to both is something like, “not much,” stop wasting time on that activity.
  • Value Stream – Write down the key milestones that must be reached to win a deal. Take it from identifying a potential opportunity through verifying that the customer is satisfied with what you delivered. Put them in the proper sequence. (In other words, write down the stages in your sales process.) Consistently follow the steps in sequence.
  • Flow – Identify the major factors that keep an opportunity from flowing smoothly and continuously through your sales process. Work with your colleagues to figure out ways to reduce the impact of those factors.
  • Pull – Identify a few situations where it was the customer that drove your sales process. Why did that happen? What caused it? What can you and your company do to re-create those circumstances? Does this thought process suggest any changes that should be made to your value stream?
  • Perfection – Repeat the above four steps until your sales process is perfect. (Obviously you will never attain perfection, but you just might achieve excellence if you do it well and keep at it long enough.)

As soon as you get comfortable with “Lean” thinking applied to your sales process, start applying it to the customer business processes affected by your products and services. Your customers already familiar with Lean will be impressed. You’ll be one of the few sales reps with that kind of knowledge. Those not already familiar with Lean will see in you a whole new source of value. They will see a sales rep that genuinely adopts a customer perspective and is dedicated to making them more efficient and effective.

Pick up a copy of Lean Thinking (external link) by Womack and Jones. Read it. Apply its principles. Become more valuable to your customers.

Think about it…

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Three Things That Kill CRM (…and how to counter them)

by Todd Youngblood

According to the best research I can find, roughly 2/3 of CRM implementations fail. How can this be? After so many years why haven’t sales leaders and CRM vendors figured this out?

On days when my patience is running short, my list of three CRM-Killers consists of resistance to change, intellectual laziness and fear of being exposed as not quite the sales super star everybody thinks I am. On one level this is right on target, and as a member of a sales team you’ll be well served to keep this “2X4 upside the head” style list in mind.

At a more pragmatic level, though, it’s more helpful to think in terms of addressing the three key objections I hear most often.

“Process and metrics don’t apply to me because…”

Sales Reps think they’re different; that what they do is un-measurable and dependent mostly on hard-won, real-world experience. They (mistakenly) believe that continuous improvement techniques that apply everywhere else in the known universe don’t apply to sales.

Here are a few “un-measurable professions” that have been hugely and dramatically changed for the better within the last decade: Medical Care, Mortgage Lending, Wine Investing, PGA Golf and Major League Baseball Scouting. There isn’t enough space to discuss the details here. Suffice it to say that the conclusion of the story for each of the above is 1) Hard-won experience is great, but not enough anymore. 2) Statistical geeks beat the daylights out of the old pros every time. 3) The really big winners were those highly experienced folks that added a process and metrics mindset to their professional repertoire. In other words, process and metrics DO apply to you.

“You want me to spend time typing instead of making sales calls.”

Yes. I want you to spend time typing stuff into the CRM system. Get over it. Study after study shows that while you will spend more time typing information, you’ll save even more time in retrieving and communicating information.

You already take lots of notes, right? On note pads, day-timers, post-its, napkins, etc. Don’t try to tell me that a google-like inquiry into your CRM isn’t vastly faster and more complete than rooting through hand-written notes “neatly” organized and filed who-knows-where. Oh, and who else in your sales support organization has access to the incredibly valuable customer intelligence you work so diligently and hard to collect? If it’s on paper the answer is nobody. You need to spend still more time composing e-mails and/or verbally explaining things.

“You want to micro-manage me.”

Eeeesssssh!!! Are you really serious? It’s exactly the opposite! Sales Managers are pulled in a gazillion different directions at once. The most fabulous thing about CRMs is that they can slice, dice, analyze and spit out reports automatically. CRMs enable sales reps to manage themselves. CRMs can pin-point what your specific problem areas are so that you can take the appropriate actions without getting management involved unless you want them to get involved.

Management wants CRM so they don’t have to hold your hand!!! One caveat though… If you’re coasting, or screwing up or just a lousy rep, a CRM means there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

Professionals in every field need to continuously upgrade and update the tools they use. Coal mining with pick and shovel anyone? Prescribing drugs without electronic data bases that analyze efficacy, side effects and potentially dangerous interactions with other medications? Sales without CRM?

Think about it…

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