A Lean Selling Case Example – Lean Principles in the Real World of Sales
If you’ve been following my blog posts for a while, you’re familiar with many of the concepts behind Lean Selling by now. You may be wondering if some of these things are truly actionable, if they can really be implemented in the real world or with a real sales team. This is just one of several case studies from the beginning chapters of my book, which should help demonstrate exactly how much benefit your sales team stands to gain from implementing Lean Selling into their sales process.
We’ll take a look at Sue (not her real name), a top salesperson for a large national provider of business outsourcing services. She told me she spends about 60% of her time prospecting and qualifying those prospects, ensuring trust with her Buyers and juggling complex sales that are very technical and consultative in nature. The average close rate for her industry is 25% – indicating that 75% of the leads most salespeople in her industry put into their pipeline end up in a perpetual state of No Decision.
Sue’s close rate is more than two times the industry average, and it’s that high consistently. How does she do it?
Sue employs several Lean Principles that get her consistent, measurable results. The first of those is Error Proofing: she compares her leads against a list of criteria she has on hand to determine how likely they are to close. If they’re not a close enough match, they don’t go into her pipeline. This keeps the number of ‘bad’ leads down and her number of prospects that are likely to close up. She spends less time and energy on leads that aren’t going anywhere, and is able to put more effort into Buyers that will close.
Another Lean principle Sue employs is Visual Signals. Sue sets a minimum and maximum number of prospects to have in her pipeline at every step in the process. This seemingly simple way to ensure her process is in control provides her clear points where she can stop prospecting and start focusing on leads already in her pipeline, or find more leads to feed in to her pipeline and make sure she doesn’t run too low.
With this focus on providing the highest qualified leads with her energy and time, Sue is exhibiting another Lean principle, Reducing Waste in her sales efforts. This means less wasted time, less wasted energy, and more satisfied buyers as a result of her sales efforts—not bad! By also focusing on the quality leads over the quantity of leads, Sue is also demonstrating another Lean principle, Reducing Inventory in her sales pipeline. This means that less of her valuable time and energy is spent on prospects unlikely to close.
We’ll cover three more Lean principles and how they are applied to sales in our next installment. If you’d like to learn more about the application of Lean principles to sales, you can register below for our Lean Learnings Series. You’ll get 12 weekly installments that discuss each of 12 key Lean Principles, and shows how they’re applied to sales in the form of Lean Selling. This material is excerpted from the book, Lean Selling, and it’s provided to you without cost or obligation.