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Sales organizations need to evolve to meet the growing challenges in a fast moving world. At the center of the transformation is the adoption of lean sales principles and increased focus on learning. This is easy to articulate on a high level, but worth a complete section in this digital Mentor program.
Why lean and learning sales is central in the future
In fast moving markets sales team needs to up their game and speed up their sales operations. The demand to provide faster and more informed opinions to your clients is firm and expected to increase further.
The basic promise of lean is to reduce cycle times caused by bottle necks in the operations. Lean applied to sales operations focus on eliminating waste cycles in all sales support flows. Elimination of waiting times between interconnected cycles is the vital to turn sales agile.
The learning side of the recipe is about how you move up and not just fast forward. Current truths can be obsolete ideas tomorrow in fast moving markets. The best way to hedge your bets is to secure continuous and daily learnings across your sales organization. The daily learning from clients in the sales interface is perhaps your most important mission. An outside-in driven initiative can be vital secure the evolution of your company.
Manufacturing and supply chains based on lean principles is common. Th idea about how to apply lean to sales challenges is more novel.. It is easy to buy into the benefits of eliminating waste cycles without value-add for clients. Sales teams are today measured on improved revenues as well as reduced costs. The emphasis on sales opex reductions is often broken down to narrow silos. Lean is about reducing focus on the resource efficiency in a given silo and focus to the flow efficiency cross silos. Flow efficiency is about minimizing the time for the completion of all steps in a given flow. Sales operations have many flows where optimization across silos is possible. By adopting lean principles in these flows clients will see reduced times from a request until completion. When implemented across your sales organization clients will experience a more agile vendor.
Learning sales is about learning faster or on par with market development. Your sales operations need to learn more and with shorter intervals between learnings. Classic learning models have limited value for this growing learning challenge. You need to look for new sources of learning. You also need to reduce the cost of learning as the amount of new learnings is going up, but not the learning budgets. You need to secure the learning can propagate faster in your organization. Not all team members can learn from repeating the same mistakes others in your organization have done before.
Significant changes at the front-line
The transition to a lean and learning sales organization will be outside-in driven. The most valuable insights on where to go and how to transform your organization will be customer insight driven. Customer driven innovation and customer responsiveness is a central company survival strategy.
The way we operate and how we learn call for important initiatives in sales processes and for how we learn from sales activities. If you are resistant to improve how you operate and in developing your personal and organizational learning you are at risk. You might not reach the agility required to support your clients effiently.
Questions for your team
- What is our strategy to improve sales efficiency in how we support our clients – All sales team face the conundrum of doing more with less.
- Which current silo optimizations slow down our customer responsiveness – your next efficiency gains are likely about flows across silos
- Which flow efficiency limitations have we identified where lean principles are suitable – focus on low hanging fruits first rather than a company-wide lean sales initiative.
- What of our current operations can serve as a starting point for a lean and learning sales journey – the destination is easier to define than how to leverage the starting point.
- What characterize our current sales culture with regards to process adherence and learning focus – these two aspects have not been central to selling in the past and can be a major hurdle to overcome.
When launching a lean and learning sales initiative you need to invest in giving your sales force deep insights on why the change is required. The following could be a good starting point:
- Lean selling: Slash your sales cycles and drive profitable predictable revenue growth by giving buyers what they really want [BOOK] – by Robert J. Pryor
- The silo effect: The peril of expertize and the promise of breaking down barriers [BOOK] – by Gillian Tett
- How is lean different from other sales process methodologies [BLOGPOST] – by Michael Webb
- 5 lean strategies for your sales and marketing teams [BLOGPOST] – by Ellen McKewen
- The sales learning curve [CASE STUDY] – by Harvard Business Review
- Predicting the future: customer driven innovation [BLOGPOST] – by Eric Berridge