What sales management can learn from Lean.

What sales management can learn from Lean. 640 427 Boldandsharp

Lean means fast, lively, flexible, slender. Renowned for its tools, it would be simplistic to confine Lean to a pool of ideas and methods. Lean is above all the ability to act and react quickly thanks to agile thinking and nimble processes where customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and team process improvement are at the heart of the company philosophy. Simple concepts such as employee engagement, collaboration and breaking down silos, business expertise and the pursuit of quality are immediately actionable. Here are 6 Lean concepts concepts that can inspire any manager, and that can serve as a roadmap, especially for level 1 managers.

1-The Kaizen spirit: the word Kaizen is the fusion of two Japanese words the meaning of which are “to change” and “good”. Kaizen is therefore change for the better. The objective is to introduce continuous improvement step by step. This does not mean without vision or innovation. This means an end to radical change in favor of a more gradual but continuous change. Step by step does not mean slowly. This change is inspired by the employees. Belonging, contribution and moderation: this is what the Kaizen is about. It also means the end of so-called best practices. In other words: stop comparing yourself to the best at the risk of losing yourself and play your own competition.

2-The customer Gemba: Lean is practiced on the GembaThe Gemba is a Japanese term that means “the real place where things happen”. First Gemba : the customer experience. It is therefore important to encourage customers’ feedback on their experience. Customer reviews, complaints and returns are the first space that allows to practice the Customer Gemba. Building a customer community, a circle of customers who are involved in your decisions and strategic orientations are alternate options. However, nothing is worth practical field experience. Conclusion: get out of your spreadsheets and your CRM: meet your customers, it is the only way to discover the magic of the tool This is the only way to discover the value of your product, not only the cost-benefit ratio but also the attachment of your customers to your offer. the customer’s smile.

3-The Gemba workshop: this is where the products are made, where your activity is carried out. The emphasis is on facts observation. Where and what to look at? Errors, fluidity of gesture, work space, escalation and involvement processes. The Gemba workshop is coupled with the Standard, a Lean cross-functional tool that embodies the best way to perform a task and the adoption of solutions by the best. Just like Gemba customer, this is about continuous learning, about being on the way to continue to innovate and progress. Beyond the privileged relationship thus created, the link is created between the organization’s objectives and local concerns. Finally, it is the place of humility where acknowledging mistakes and recognizing false good ideas prevails. Keep it as a compass when your culture becomes toxic and your values are challenged.

4-Employee engagement: the employee is both the heart and the engine of the organization’s success. It is therefore appropriate for each of them:

  • To confirm their ability to meet the standards and their ability to evaluate their own performance against the standards set. It’s not just about measuring performance, it’s about ensuring clarity of purpose and assessment criteria and the employee’s commitment as agents of their own success.
  • Identify work overload, instability and waste: is the work required reasonable in relation to existing resources and tools? Is the employee physically and psychologically safe? The manager is focused on the process optimization, barriers removal, employees’ realization as individuals and team realization as autonomous entities.

5-The manager coach: the Lean coach is more of a sport coach. He is therefore well suited to the position of level 1 manager, close to the field. The manager is more of a technical leader. Here we find a concept dear to Chinese philosophy where “the best leader is ignored by the people” : manage as if you had no authority and discipline yourself to do nothing by and fo yourself. Hence the focus on talent development, delegation and the identification of future leaders to carry out the most strategic topics.

  • Power, strategy and charisma are not essential. This does not mean managing without a vision but the role is rather to maintain a clear direction of improvement by sharing goals and progress. The quality wall is intended to control but above all to learn. It is similar to the sales manager dashboards, your KPIs, and opportunity and pipeline management.
  • Red bins are an industrial process consisting in isolating defective parts: it is your lost opportunity analysis, which should be regularly scrutinized to learn. The message? clarity and simplicity. Adopt limited KPIs such as variance achieved vs. objectives, conversion rate or win rate. Keep the rest for you and your manager meetings.

6-Culture of feedback and accountability: the manager’s job is therefore to:

  • Make goals and processes visible to all to share an intuitive and instantaneous understanding of the state of the business. Identify the problems together.
  • Formulate the problems with a bottom-up approach and look for the root causes. The technique of ” 5 Why’s” helps eliminate assumptions and focus on facts.
  • Propose and launch corrective actions: develop initiative and an environment where everyone can progress in order to be the engine of change and of their own development.

Organizational balance, promotion and transition, key performance indicators, talent identification and development. Want to know more?

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