A little known research paper published in the Spring of 2008 (‘A research agenda for value stream mapping the sales process’ by Barber & Tjetje) put forward the case for value stream mapping as an approach for redesigning sales processes. This bold paper makes an excellent case for the use of lean techniques to be applied to sales.
The authors describe examples of ‘waste’ in sales: calling on the wrong prospects, excessive motion of people, too much inventory in the form of sales brochures and so on. Whilst their radical approach has not been widely adopted, its rigour is something to be highly praised. They go as far as to redesign a sales process to make it quicker, use less valuable resources, and more linked to the actual customer buying process.
Too often organisations allow poorly designed and conceived sales processes to fill their agendas, and supposedly guide their sales processes. Research in 2008 by the Sandler Sales Institute found that in 48% of cases where organisations have sales processes, they are not used by sales people.
Taken together, these examples must remind us that we should take a lot of care in designing and implementing a sales process. Simply downloading an n-step process from your favourite training organisation is risky: Sales people will not use it and furthermore, if you try to introduce a better one later, they will see it as a waste of time.
With the right people and the right methodology, creating a good sales process forms the absolute backbone of opportunity management, coaching interventions, CRM implementations and most important of all, an aide-memoire for habits of excellence in a sales team. If you would like help with your sales process, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
By Anderson Hirst