Lean ‘Sales’

As we know the subject of ‘Lean’ is predominantly aimed at manufacturing elements of organisations but should however be applied across all areas. Here we are specifically going to look at how it can be applied to ‘sales’.

If we accept that the ‘value add’ (VA) aspect of sales is understanding what the customer has a need for and then proposing a solution to fill that need, then everything else that is done in that department is ‘non value adding’ (NVA).  Let us consider a salesman who conducts Face to Face, Business to Business sales calls that should take approx 45 minutes and yield say a £500 sale.  In a ideal perfect day he will turn up at the first prospect at 9.00am, have the sales meeting, win the order, be away by 9.45am, and arrive ready for the next client to repeat the process at 10.00am.  Using this method our salesman would secure £500 of sales per hour, which would give us say £4000 per day / £20,000 per week.  I can hear you saying now though, ‘but life’s not like that!’.  So let’s list the things that often go wrong?

  1. We get to the appointment and they prospect isn’t there
  2. The sales meeting starts late
  3. The travel between appointments is longer than 15 minutes
  4. The sales meeting overruns the 45 minutes allocated
  5. The prospect decides not to buy the product
  6. The decision maker isn’t there so a second visit becomes necessary
  7. The appointments can’t be made at one hour intervals… etc, etc, etc

With just a few of these factors hitting our salesman every day the results will tumble dramatically and perhaps he secures just two sales a day = £5000 per week

So what has this got to do with ‘Lean’? It’s here that we now need to start working on the systems to ensure we can perform nearer our ideal scenario. Let’s explore the actions we could explore under the ‘Lean’ banner.

  1. Qualify the leads better to ensure they are the right people with the need
  2. Always turn up on time
  3. Pre-frame the prospect that time is tight so they are prepared for you
  4. Phone the prospect when 10 mins away so they are ready
  5. Only book appointments in the same vicinity
  6. Take control of sales meeting and keep to timescales
  7. Make sure decision maker will be there at appointment booking stage
  8. Not book appointments at random times in the day, eg:- 11.15, stick to on the hour

Now I’m not suggesting that it’s that easy, however we shouldn’t ignore looking at what we can do. As you can see, in each scenario our salesman does 40 hours work, but the output from each is vastly different.  Have a go and see if you can analyse the VA and NVA activities in your business.


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