Lean sales flows – where to focus your sales support efforts

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Lean plays a role in both the customer facing part of your sales as well as your sales support flows. In order to maximize the output both these parts need to be designed around lean principles. So where should you out in the efforts with regards to your sales support flows?

Build from the customer end 

Since lean originate from manufacturing it is tempting to realize lean sales support by focusing on your “support factory” This approach is easy to explain by proven manufacturing experiences but miss the boat on a key point. The reason why you implement lean in sales support organizations is to support your sales teams better. Therefore you should start at the customer and sales end when defining your lean sales support model.
Sales support teams with multiple contributing organizations are likely a growing challenge for your sales teams. When your sales support organizations understand the hazzel they cause at the front you have improved the odds for success. It is these hazzels you should focus on addressing first when you adopt lean in sales support organizations.

Introduce flow efficiency in a resource efficient world

Sales support organizations are measured on resource efficiency. The metrics and the results has been refined over many years. You can expect a very solid structure optimized around resource efficiency. Your role become to take the best of the existing structure and blend it with ideas on how to achieve flow efficiency.
The hardest part to break through is to address optimized support silos with thinking for how they optimize how to interwork. Don’t expect all contributing silos to have a clear view from start on how they affect the flow efficiency across silos. Each silo has got a clear view how they operate and perform. But in order to understand the potential of lean they need to understand a lot more of their peers and what they do.

Education and insights is key to secure buy-in

The odds of succeeding with the adoption of lean grow significantly if your sales support team are equipped with the insights driving the change. As a sales leader you need to balance which training and which insights to provide.
If you are new to lean yourself it is easy to focus on the generic lean principles and the mechanics of the KANBAN board. By bringing together the team around a board and sharing generics you can get going quickly. But a quick start does not always mean fast progress.
The more specific you are on insights applicable to your unique situation the better. When your team had a solid and shared base of insights your initiative will advance faster. Lean is widely adopted to improve sales support flows. Expect to find a lot of good ideas outside your own team you can share in the beginning.

Questions for you and your team 

1. What are our current sales support bottlenecks – look for flow efficiency all see as a start for educating your team.
2. Are we ahead or behind sales in adopting lean – pull from sales is easier to mange than having to push sales teams at the front.
3. Where can we find lean sales support ideas to steal – external ideas from other teams in your own organization or other organizations are both good starting points.
4. What are the best insights needed to secure buy-in across all team members – aim to identify the ones providing “eureka moments” to your most skeptical team members.

Additional reading 

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