Lean management for sales? Isn’t that kind of oxymoronic? We have been told all along that lean management is ideal for areas such as manufacturing, services, operations and supply chain since it is essentially built upon minimalization of waste. How does sales fit into this picture?
Fact is, it does. You can pump up your sales with some remarkable lean management tactics. As we know, lean management is a set of practices that helps an organization to optimize its revenues while keeping its resources at a minimum by avoiding wastage at every possible point. Lean management is primarily about creating value by identifying the core points at which wastage occurs and plugging them in every viable way.
Lean management consists of streamlining and harmonizing the points of productivity across the areas of service, technology, manufacturing and many others. Now, this understanding is necessary to derive a grasp of how you can pump up your sales with these remarkable lean management tactics. So, what is in all this for sales is a question some people might ask, in just the way many others have. They ask, with quite some justification, if lean management can work in an area that offers sales incentives to its staff to reward and motivate them.
How does lean management work for sales?
Let us try to understand how lean management concepts go for sales:
The starting point, in fact the real point, to how to pump up your sales with some remarkable lean management tactics is to realize that inculcating activities in which waste does not occur is not restricted to areas with which lean has come to be identified. Simple: you can adapt lean principles into all the areas of sales starting from interviewing candidates for the job.
Let me explain: when you shortlist candidates for interviewing to be brought into the sales team, whether you realize it or not, the organization spends a lot of unnecessary resources on arranging the interview. These could range from calling up the candidate, spending time on the interview and deciding about her suitability. What if the candidate is rejected? Haven’t you wasted a lot in terms of resources? Haven’t you wasted your manager’s time, the expense on phoning or any other such items?
Adapt the same lean thinking for sales as well
Pumping up your sales with some remarkable lean management tactics consists of looking at all these as wasteful activities. Well, you may be wondering if I am saying that interviewing candidates is a wasteful activity. It certainly isn’t. But spending a lot of time and money on interviewing the wrong candidate certainly is!
If you keep the lean principles in mind, you would ask HR to shortlist a more suitable candidate, where the chances of rejecting are fewer, and you could be doing with a lot less waste of your time. Spending a few productive minutes with HR is likely to save you valuable time on three or four unproductive interviews running into hours.
And what about lean practices during the sales itself? Setting up the right time for the sales appointment, avoiding travel on a call that is not likely to result in a deal, avoiding expensive trips…there are umpteen ways by which you can pump up your sales with some remarkable lean management tactics.
Lean management in creating value for the customer
And, there is another very core aspect of lean management for sales, which will help you pump up your sales with some remarkable lean management tactics. Creating value for the customer is what a business essentially exists for, right? When this is done by applying lean management principles, there is a tremendous boost to the value the customer gets from the company’s products or service. One way of accomplishing this is by integrating sales with the entire processes the company has.
Integrating sales with the other processes ensures that sales becomes part of the operations to the extent that operations are designed and implemented keeping sales in mind and not in isolation of it. Bringing this vital element into the processes rounds up the whole cycle and enhances the value chain on an unimaginable scale.
The direct offshoot of such an integration is that when the customer sees value in the company’s products or services, there are fewer complaints or recalls. This is the finest means of augmenting the company’s resources because the fewer these items, the more it can leverage its resources for further improvement.
In this way, many such activities round sales can be minimized. These count for lean practices, although it must be said that these lean principles have not been designed keeping sales in mind. That however, does not take away from the relevance or value of lean principles to sales.