Lean Selling is another sales methodology, as well as SPIN Selling , Agile Selling and several others.
The catch here, however, is that this methodology is not just about how to sell, but about the entire process behind the final product: a successful sale.
But after all, the concept of Lean is well known to all of us these days, isn’t it? But where did this concept come from?
Let’s remember a little about our good old history class. Remember World War II? Well, the point here is that Japan was on the losing side of the war.
Although it was founded just before the war (in 1933, while the war took place between 1939 and 1945), it was only a few years after the war ended that, faced with a shortage of resources, a company called Toyota Motor Corporation started to define and optimize what would become a major revolution in the manufacturing industry.
Nowadays, the new methodologies and ways of thinking developed by Taiichi Ohno, collectively known as the Toyota Production System (TPS) or even Toyotism. And what was the feature that stood out in this new model? Yes, that’s right: lean production, or Lean Production/Manufacturing.
Since then, this new methodology began to be responsible for the success of the new Toyota, which began to be known for its variety (a rarity at the time) and for the high quality of its vehicles.
The success obtained with the Lean methodology came through the repetition of 5 fundamental principles:
- Eliminate any and all activities that do not generate value for the customer;
- Identify all processes along the process chain;
- Make the process flow;
- Do only what is requested by the customer;
- Always seek perfection through the constant elimination of waste.
Did you see any value in this methodology? I hope so!
Her focus is completely consumer-oriented. And it is precisely this focus that allows processes to be improved to a point where there are almost no activities that do not add value to the customer.
Lean Selling, as expected, is based on the application in sales of the principles and practices of the Lean methodology that have been refined over time by manufacturing and service companies.
Also following the same principle as the original Lean, in Lean Selling we define waste as any activity that is unnecessary or does not generate value from the perspective of the consumer/customer.
Although the methods used here are slightly different, the goals are fundamentally the same:
- Generate as much value as possible (this concept of value being defined by the customer);
- Eliminate any and all waste, that is, eliminate activities that do not generate value for the customer;
- Empower those involved in building such value;
- Continuous improvement.
Now that we know a little more about how the Lean mindset manifests in sales, is it easier to see in your current process where waste occurs?
Not yet? Well, I’ll give you a hint of one of the main wastes that is present in most cases. Prepared?
Personas , business intelligence , prospecting , qualification and closing .
Still not caught?
Well, imagine now that you don’t have any of that, or at least imagine that you don’t have part of that process.
As each one of them plays an essential role in what we will define as flow later on, it is very likely that the lack of one of them will end up creating a gap in the process.
And what is the direct consequence of this gap? Waste of time (also known as waste).
If you don’t have your personas well defined, for example, chances are you’ll end up contacting a lead that doesn’t have a buying profile or that your solution doesn’t solve your problem.
Consequence: waste of time for both sides.
Now imagine you don’t have a prospector. Would the amount of smart leads passed to SDR be enough? Most likely not!
Consequence: more wasted time.
I think you’ve already seen a pattern, right?
One of the points of the Lean methodology (the most important in my opinion) is to cut the bad at the root!
Cutting the bad at the root means finding the source of the problem and not just the symptoms, which are usually easy to identify and, therefore, end up being confused with the real cause of the problems.
One of the most famous tools for identifying these causes is the Ishikawa diagram (or cause and effect diagram, or fishbone diagram or 6M diagram, it’s up to you to choose the best name :D):
Its purpose is to identify the main causes (yes, often a problem is generated by more than one cause) that are responsible for a particular problem or effect.
Is the focus in the right place?
In recent years the focus of all companies has turned to customers, but most of the century’s industrial sales, however, until the last century, the sales process was centered on the salesperson and not on the process that followed.
Still, according to the Lean Selling book itself, even today billions of reais are spent annually on training salespeople, which doesn’t make much sense since, on average, after about 1 month, salespeople end up remembering only about 13% of what was taught.
On the other hand, the investment in structuring sales processes is considerably smaller.
Stop to think: is it really worth following the same path forever?
In your opinion, which makes the most sense?
Investing in the person or the process? You see, I’m not saying the person is unimportant. After all, without them, no process could be structured and maintained.
However, once you have a well-structured and scalable process, it becomes much easier to direct the actions of agents who will be part of this process, do you agree?
Lean Selling Points
A process, to be considered Lean, must meet the following capabilities:
- Scalable (at all levels of the company);
Kind of generic and a little surreal, right? It’s complicated to talk about an optimized process and seek, at the same time, continuous improvement.
However, that is exactly the point: always seek the best!
But how to get there?
These days there is not much material on the internet that talks about Lean Selling. In addition, the main reference material that exists today ( the book itself ) does not contain any kind of cake recipe that can be applied to the process.
Still, reading a little of the book, it is possible to understand the main points of Lean Selling.
Here we go:
Error Prevention: Here The goal here is to ensure that a lead that doesn’t have a profile passes through your sales funnel. If that happens, time is wasted and waste appears.
How to solve?
Defining your personas well and establishing a process where those responsible for business intelligence, prospecting, qualification and closing also do the same control, filtering out any and all types of unqualified leads.
Waste Reduction: In our SPIN Selling text the team of Blue World City Islamabad talked a little about the importance of qualification in the sales process. Qualifying better, spending more time on the investigation process, ends up reducing costs in the long run.
In addition to making sure that a lead has a profile or not, if the qualification is done correctly, it ends up generating even more inputs so that a closing can happen more easily in the future.
All time must be focused on activities that generate value for your customer.
“Inventory” Reduction: Inventory here means the excess of leads in the various stages of the sales funnel.
Therefore, this is more of a benefit than a well-structured process that has a careful selection at all stages of the funnel. This helps keep the process under control, as well as reducing the expense of disqualified leads.
Leveling: Because of the constant flow of qualified leads, the pressure that usually sits on closers is removed. Closers generally favor hot leads, which are more likely to close.
However, with the constant flow of qualified leads, this disparity ends up disappearing.
What benefits can be realized with this new process?
Monthly goals and sales forecasts start to be much more consistent and therefore assertive.
Visual Sign: Stipulate standards for prospecting processes such as the minimum and maximum number of contacts that must be made in a day, use colors and tags to assemble plans in order to keep sales levels in control, marketing campaigns and others.
It’s always easier to identify when something is going well or not through visual cues, such as: if you have an activity that is late, the color red can become a good indication of that situation, right?
The same goes for something that is close to the deadline and something that is still far from the due date.
Team work: I believe that we are all taught that working as a team is better than working alone since we were children, isn’t that right?
It’s no different here!
Organizing teams around specific tasks with a focus on generating value for customers ends up bringing even more results, given that two heads are better than one and, in this way, problems can be solved more quickly and improvements can be born more constantly.
Integrated Purchasing Process: It is extremely important that the sales process is aligned with the buyer’s journey. This is the only way to ensure that maximum value is being generated and that both sides are following the same path.
Flow: Here, the most important fact is that there is flow, that is, that there is no stage of the stopped process.
And that’s exactly why segmentation of a process is important. When we segment a team into specific tasks, it’s much easier for these people to focus on them and start generating a consistent result.
With this in mind, it is much clearer how to structure a team with one or more people at each stage, always analyzing the flow of the process, thus ensuring that no one is stuck (constant input into all stages of the process).
I hope Lean Selling which is highly recommended by the sales team of Capital Smart City has become clearer to you.
Nowadays, with the competition more and more voracious, it becomes more than necessary to have a quality, efficient and lean process. Only then will you be able to offer your customers the best service and at the best price (do any competitors want to take a stand? I don’t think so ;)).
It was with this in mind that we brought this text to you: we want everyone to benefit from methodologies that work and that are already more than known abroad.
But if you have some difficulty or even lost when putting things into practice, how about talking to our team of consultants? We are available to answer any questions you may have and ensure that everything goes smoothly. Flow right (got the joke? it was boring, i know!).
Ps.: How about transforming the way sales are made in Brazil? If you know someone who might benefit from this text, please share. After all, collective learning is also much greater than individual learning.