Category Archives: Revenue Growth

Improve Sales Too

It’s rare to find a business organization of any substance
that has not implemented at least some type of improvement initiative in their manufacturing, administrative, or service sectors,  whether it be the Conway approach, LEAN, Six Sigma, and so on.

But, as noted in a previous post, not as many have defined a sales process, nor have they taken the hunt for waste and the quest for continuous improvement into the realm of sales .

Selling is a process. The basic principles of work and process improvement certainly apply, and, just as these principles have brought about measurable gains in other sectors, so too, if properly executed, can they help those in the selling arena learn how to contribute more to the overall enterprise; how to work smarter, faster, and with more success.

These principles might also help a sales team stand out from the competition due to more effective execution.

By teaching the basic principles of studying, changing, and improving work and work processes to sales professionals, an organization can empower them to help themselves and the enterprise realize major (breakthrough!) accomplishments, such as:

  • Communicating at a higher level with customers
  • Gathering the “voice of the customer”
  • Interacting more harmoniously with internal customers
  • Selling more in less time
  • Managing key accounts more effectively
  • Increasing margins

As sellers learn more about the effects of continuous improvement, they will become better at translating the company’s true value-added message. They might even help to develop it!

As they become more educated and enthusiastic about the relevance of simple statistics, variation, and waste reduction, it’s likely that they will also become more effective at uncovering and expressing true customer needs.

And finally, a sales force so educated will more readily recognize the advantages of incorporating all of these principles into their daily sales effort. As a result, they will become more efficient. They will become more successful. Successful sales people stay on, sell more, and help the company grow more profitably.

Why not improve sales too?

10 Good Reasons for Defining (& Improving) the Sales Process

Have you formally defined your organization’s sales process?

In other words, have you documented the specific steps you or your sales team must execute to move from identifying a lead to closing the sale?

If so, are they the right steps?  Have you mapped the key objectives and activities for each step? How about measuring team performance on a step-by-step basis? Are people working on the right things? Have you identified the best opportunities for continually improving each step and, as a result, the entire process?

We’ve found that those who place a strong focus on these things are able to execute the sales process much more effectively and, as a result, enjoy a number of advantages, which include:

  1. Consistent approach which can more easily be analyzed and continually improved, most often resulting in a greater competitive advantage
  2. Common language throughout the organization, facilitating more effective strategizing
  3. More consistent and diligent lead qualification, thus promoting efficiency and reducing waste
  4. More precise definition of transaction status and progress, thus more accurate forecasting
  5. More comprehensive need assessment, which promotes a consultative selling style and higher margins; better assessment also tends to bring-about a heightened responsiveness to customer needs, interests and priorities, and often yields larger average order size
  6. Heightened ability to incorporate the voice-of-the-customer into organizational decision-making
  7. Higher levels of conscious competence and team development
  8. Shorter sales cycles
  9. More natural closing
  10. A better customer experience, as the “diligent” execution promotes differentiation

The Waste in Your Sales Process?

ChasingWasteOutOfSales2The largest waste or opportunity in most commercial and industrial organizations is the lost gross margin that results from lost sales, sub-optimal pricing, excessive costs, and unnecessary costs in the sales and marketing processes.

Some of the most important processes in need of improvement include the process of selecting target markets, identifying prospects, connecting with those prospects, identifying needs, presenting the right solutions, closing sales, and retaining customers.

All of these can be systematically studied and dramatically improved.

We developed Chasing The Waste Out Of Sales to help every organization  create a high performing culture that produces increased sales dollars.

The book explains tools and techniques that will make real differences in your bottom line.  It’s the first and only book available to teach those in customer-oriented and management positions how to:

  • Collect and analyze key data
  • Share the information on a macro level
  • Study and improve processes
  • Make the changes in your organization that count

Read more…

Engaging Your Workforce Around the Work

Engagement has been the theme of our previous few posts, and “engagement with a purpose” is the over-arching theme of this one. 

We all know that employee engagement is a critical component of continuous improvement, customer satisfaction and long-term success. We have also consistently observed that organizations lacking an engaged workforce are rarely able to implement sustainable improvement systems and often perform at sub-optimal levels. 

However, while employee engagement is a necessary ingredient for high performance,
like flour to a cake, it is not enough. In other words, “engagement for engagement’s sake” is not a likely pathway to achieving a culture of continuous improvement or high performance. An engaged workforce will likely perform
at or near average year after year, but to raise an organization to high
performance, something beyond engagement is required.

As any baker knows, the dough won’t rise until you add the yeast!

There are a number of specific things management might do to add that something special; but before tactics must come strategic planning. Simply stated, the approach we’re suggesting is to engage your workforce around the one thing that they all have in common… around the one thing that can bring about increased profitability and a competitive edge… the work! 

If all goes according to plan, the result will be a culture of engagement that can be leveraged by all stakeholders; a culture in which the workforce enjoys a better work environment, higher levels of work-life balance, and works more productively; and a culture in which management enjoys more rapid growth, lower turnover, enhanced profitability and a stronger competitive edge.  

Read more…

The Largest Waste Many Continuous Improvement Efforts Ignore

Our research and experience have shown that the largest waste in most commercial and industrial organizations is the lost gross margin that results from lost sales, sub-optimal pricing, excessive costs, and unnecessary costs in the sales and marketing processes.

Yet over the years we have noticed people tend to treat the selling process differently than they treat other work processes. Many assume the problems or waste in the selling process has to do with poor selling skills, while others believe the problems lie in poor account management or sub-par time and territory management practices. 

While some portion of the problems and complexities might lie in these areas, the real waste must be addressed in a different way. We created a handbook, Chasing The Waste Out Of Sales, to help organizations eliminate that waste and create a new culture that produces increased sales dollars.

Employee Engagement & Waste: Connecting the Dots

Two key fundamentals have been common threads in our previous ten posts:

  1. Employee Engagement – via assessment, education and/or surveys, and its impact on performance and customer relationships

  2. Identifying & Eliminating Waste – through looking in the right places, quantification an prioritization

Today we’d like to consider the two concepts together by asking for your thoughts on two questions.

  1. How much waste can you attribute to less-than-optimum levels of employee engagement in your organization? 

    Before answering, consider that a more highly-engaged workforce is not only more productive, but also more capable of engaging your customers! (For more perspective, you might enjoy reading a related post on our sister blog .)

    So…, how much incremental growth and profit could have been realized through the process of increased employee and, consequently, customer engagement?

  2. How can this waste be eliminated? In other words, what types of training programs, managerial attitudes and cultural shifts might be implemented, and how?

Another Method for Increasing Sales Revenue

In our previous post we suggested one way to grow revenue involved “looking outward” to identify opportunities for improvement. But that approach alone is most often not enough! We must also look inward…

What processes do you use to generate sales?  How well are these processes working?  How do you know? You can study and improve your sales generation process just as you can improve any other process — by gathering facts and data about how the process is currently working, identifying the waste in the process, addressing the underlying causes, and measuring and standardizing the results of the improvements.  What process do you use to acquire new accounts?  What process do you use to grow sales with existing accounts? 

Below are several different processes that businesses use to generate sales:

  • Sales Calls 
    • Improve process
    • Improve targeting
    • Improve frequency 
  • Promotions 
  • Distribution Channels 
  • Pricing

      As we described above, to sell more and grow, it is necessary to understand customers and their current needs and values and also to have the cold, hard facts about your current processes. 


    Understanding Customer Needs

    Several of our recent posts reference efforts to increase sales revenue. One suggestion involved “looking outward” to study customer preferences – what your customers and your competitors’ customers care about most. 

    A tool that might help with this task is the Kano analysis. The Kano Model is a systemic approach to understanding customer needs and wants and the value that customers place on the various features your product or service offers. It was developed by Noriaki Kano, a Japanese educator, and was designed to help answer the questions:

    • What does the customer need?

    • What does the customer value?

    • What does the customer expect?

    • What delights the customer? Customers often cannot pinpoint these needs and expectations, but when these unexpected features or products are offered, they “wow” the customer.

    For additional information about The Kano Model, please visit our Website.

    And, of course, we’d love to hear about how your organization has been able to study customer needs!



    Taking the Growth Path

    As noted in our previous post, when we don’t have enough sales a common tendency is to cut jobs, cut capacity and “whack” the costs.  Some years ago, Bill Conway  had a poster made.  It looked something like this:

    No Growth Path
    Growth Path
    People make improvements
    People make improvements
    Need fewer people to do the work
    Need the same or more people to do more work
    Eliminate people’s jobs
    Greater added value for everybody
    A lot less interest in any more improvement
    Further improvements

    Clearly we cannot cut our way to success.  Growth is an option, but it doesn’t just happen.  There are concrete steps we need to take to improve revenue growth, just as we improve any other aspect of the business.

    We all need better methods for increasing sales. What methods have worked well for you? 

    Nothing Happens Until…

    You may be familiar with Arthur “Red” Motley’s quote, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something!”

    Leaving aside the extent to which Motley’s perspective might be true, effectively managing the sales process and maintaining a path of steady revenue growth are every-day objectives within organizations of all types and sizes.  And while many external factors, such as variation in the economy or competition, can significantly impact results, the selling process — like all processes — can and must be studied and continually improved.  

    In fact, when we recently surveyed a diverse group of business leaders about the greatest challenge facing their organizations in the near term and long term, we heard that the biggest challenge was to grow revenue. As noted in a previous post, we will be focusing on this subject from time to time going forward. In the meantime, a few strategies you might consider adding to your approach involve:

    • Looking outward to test or confirm what customers deem most important
    • Looking inward for opportunities to improve the sales process
    • Looking forward to maintain an innovative edge, based on 3 key criteria

    A more thorough explanation of these activities can be found in one of our recent newsletters.