It isn’t only manufacturers of products who gain from Lean Thinking. Practically all business processes can benefit from Lean. According to Robert J Pryor in his book Lean Selling, many board level decision makers are not entirely happy with the results of their sales teams.
Three of their most common complaints are –
- Inaccurate sales forecasts and missed quota commitments.
- Wasted time providing information customers don’t want, while not giving them enough of what they really need.
- An opaque sales process not lending itself to continuous improvement.
On the other hand, many sales teams have their own issues, for example –
- 41% of salespeople fear they are unable to communicate value to prospects.
- 40% of salespeople believe they don’t understand their prospect’s buying process.
- As many as two out of every three sales cycles end in no decision.
Up to 75% of the sales cycle is in the buyer’s control. If a company wants to reduce its sales cycle time, they need to get engaged in the buyer’s process. Time spent in any activity that doesn’t add value for the buyer is wasted.
On this evidence, most companies could do better and provide a greater return for their investors. A good start is to realise that the buyer defines what value is, not the seller. Any salesperson who says to a buyer, “I imagine you want to make an informed decision on the best provider in the shortest time and not regret it” will be ahead of the game.
One of the best ways to reach these objectives is by using Value Stream Mapping. This provides a bird’s eye view of how a company can build value into its product or service and take them from their Current State to a new and more profitable Future State.
As Karen Martin & Mike Osterling say in their book Value Stream Mapping, if company personnel can’t describe what there’re doing as a process or value stream, they don’t know what there’re doing. It’s an unfortunate fact that most employees can’t describe the complete series of events required to transform a customer request into a product or service.
Every value stream needs between two and five Key Performance Indicators tracked on a regular basis. Most companies don’t do this. This is why they continue to fight fires, fail to capture greater market share and don’t generate as much profit as they could.
How much do you believe sales teams can benefit from using Lean Thinking and Value Stream Mapping?