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How to Apply Lean Development Principles to Sales


Guest articles > How to Apply Lean Development Principles to Sales


by: Cameron Graham


The lean approach is still relatively new to many sales and marketing departments, but the results, when used correctly, can revolutionize the way your company does business. The problem is that lean principles often disrupt traditional sales and marketing strategies, which means adoption and application isn’t easy. If you’re considering a new approach, here are some ways to apply lean principles to your current sales strategy.

Determine Which Steps Work with Lean Principles

First, understand that not every part of your sales cycle will be compatible with lean principles. The best areas to start with are those tied to metrics, since stats are heavily used to determine success and failure. Six Sigma suggests the following processes can utilize lean practices:

  • Lead generation
  • Sales forecasting
  • Product launches
  • Lead conversion

To start, choose one area and begin applying the new techniques. When you polish the process, move on to another area. If you master lean development, you may be able to apply it to almost every part of your sales cycle.

Collaboration Is Key

Teamwork is vital to the lean strategy, though individual success should be rewarded. When beginning a project, gather the team for brainstorming. Old techniques shouldn’t be cast aside, but you should definitely work together on developing better processes.

Write down all suggestions and choose the most viable options together. Keep any discarded ideas for later, just in case your first choices don’t pan out. The point of this step is rapid-fire decision-making. Your team members will be more likely to speak up when everyone is invited to participate.

Sprint to the Finish Line

When you’ve chosen the ideas you want to pursue, the next step is to begin your sprint. Details are important, but the real idea here is to apply your plan as quickly as possible in order to see the fastest return.

Keep in mind that messing up during this phase is okay. Your failures will teach you just as much as your successes do. If one of your ideas flops, don’t give up on it. Save that idea for later.

When one step of the project is complete, fail or succeed, move on to the next. Cycle through the process from start to finish as quickly as you can without making sloppy mistakes. Your first attempts will take longer than you hope, simply because you’ll be retraining yourself and your staff to focus on timeliness instead of perfection. Once the cycle is complete, you’ll move on to the next step.

Analyze Data

When you’ve cycled through your sales process, it’s time to stop and take stock of your progress. A lot of companies turn to business analytics software to sort through the data they’ve collected, while others prefer to use more familiar tools, such as Excel. Remember, you’ve been on a crash course from beginning to end, so you’ll have a lot of loose ends to tie up.

The first thing to do is examining your metrics. How many leads did you hook with your new generation process? How many new products were purchased after your latest launch? Did any of your leads convert to sales with your new lean methods?

You can segment your data according to your buyer personas to see if you learn more about your process and how it reaches particular buyers. For instance, did those who purchased during your sprint fit a particular demographic? Do their interests coincide? Perhaps they’re all managers or directors in their jobs. What you learn about these buyers will help you streamline the process the next time you sprint.

Act on the Results

As mentioned earlier, your failures will tell you as much as your successes. Rather than discard those ideas, take them back to the brainstorming sessions to see if you can improve the process and try again. For those ideas that did succeed, devise a test to see if small changes might make the idea better. Your A/B testing will help you create a process that saves time and resources while returning incredible results.

Eventually, you’ll discover some failures are simply that: failures. It’s okay to cast these aside in favor of the strategies that have shown results. Just don’t be too quick to toss out things out. With some tweaks, you could end up with incredible strategies no one has ever before considered.

Start Again

You can’t do your A/B testing if you don’t go through the cycle again. Brainstorm as a group, devise your new testing strategies, and then begin the sprint again. This time, see if you can complete the tasks sooner, with a higher rate of success.
As you continue using the lean process, you’ll streamline all your processes until your cycle takes half the time, with more successful results than you thought possible. Your team members will learn to think on their feet and be prepared for any situation.

Just don’t give up before you start seeing results. Many fail at lean principles simply because they gave up too soon.

Cameron Graham is an editorial coordinator at TechnologyAdvice. He covers emerging technology, along with business intelligence and other software. Connect with him on Google+.

Contributor: Cameron Graham

Published here on: 01-Jun-14

Classification: Sales



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