About Lean Selling

Lean Thinking, pioneered by Toyota Motor Corporation, is the twenty-first-century way to produce goods and services. Lean Selling explains how these revolutionary principles can transform sales organizations and the value they provide for customers.

  • Eliminate salespeople’s wasted time on unnecessary activities and unqualified prospects
  • Dramatically reduce sales cycle time
  • Broaden and deepen your organization’s competitive advantage and differentiation
  • Significantly improve the accuracy of revenue forecasting
  • Bind your customers more closely to your organization

Acknowledgements

Foreword

Introduction

  • I’m Not Going to Waste Your Time
  • Five Premises for Predicting Lean Selling as the Next Big Thing
  • What Can You Do If You Become a Believer?
  • Selling System Assessment
  • The Promise
  • About the Structure of This Book
  • To the Early Adopter Go the Spoils

Part I. Lean Secrets to Building Your Company’s Competitive Edge

Chapter 1. What’s Lean Got to Do with It?

  • The Selling Crisis
  • What is Lean?
  • What is Lean Selling?
  • The Business Case
  • How I Got Lean
  • Back to the Future
  • How Sales Is Different
  • Selling Is Not for the Faint of Heart

Chapter 2. Case Examples

  • Software: Inside Sales – “Focus on Quality”
  • Business Services: Field Sales – “Leaning the Sales Pipeline”
  • Industrial Distribution: Hybrid Sales Organization – “Continually Innovating Customer Value”
  • Non-Medical Products for Healthcare: ISRs – “Evaluating the Partnership”
  • Pharmaceuticals: Field Sales and Marketing – “Approaching Buyers Strategically”

Part II. Sales as a Service

Chapter 3. Are Salespeople Becoming Obsolete?

  • Why Aren’t Customers Calling You as Much Anymore?
  • Where Did the Value Go?
  • Where Is the Value Now?

Chapter 4. Why CEOs and Senior Executives Should Care About Trends in the Sales Profession

  • Do You Still Need Salespeople?
  • Is Our Sales Service Too Expensive?
  • Salespeople Are Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

Chapter 5. Buying, Selling, and Coaching

  • The Uniqueness of Sales, Revisited
  • Who Is Leading and Who Is Following?
  • Doing the Coaching Pivot

Chapter 6. What’s Service Got to Do with It?

  • What is Customer Service Called Before a Buyer Becomes a Customer?
  • What Buyers Want
  • What Sellers Want
  • What Organizations Want

Chapter 7. What’s a Salesperson to Do?

  • What Kind of Selling Service Do You Want to Deliver?
  • Changing Beliefs
  • Is Your Buyer a Fit for You?
  • Are You Ready to Make the Investment in a Lean Transformation?

Part III. Sales as a Process

Chapter 8. What Different Types of Processes Are There?

  • What Is a Process?
  • Repeatable v. Non-Repeatable
  • Scalable v. Non-Scalable
  • Optimized v. Non-Optimized
  • Characteristics of Lean Processes

Chapter 9. Do You Have a Sales Process?

  • Minimum Requirements for a Sales Process
  • Is It Documented?
  • Is Everyone’s Role in the Process Clearly Spelled Out?
  • Is Every Participant Required to Follow It?
  • Do They?
  • How Do You Know?

Chapter 10. Measuring the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Your Sales Process

  • How Often Do You Get Metrics from Your Process?
  • The Role of CRM Systems
  • How Often Do You Review Your Process?
  • How Often Do You Modify Your Process?
  • The Case for Metrics and Monitoring–An Example

Chapter 11. Major Types and Causes of Waste in Sales Processes

  • Differing Goals Between Buyers and Sellers
  • Unclear Buyer Requirements
  • Unnecessary Activity
  • Waiting Time
  • Underproviding and Overproviding

Chapter 12. A Simplified Selling Process

  • Five Steps of a Sale
  • Inputs and Outputs
  • Dependencies

Chapter 13. A Simplified Buying Process

  • Five Steps of a Purchase
  • Inputs and Outputs
  • Dependencies

Chapter 14. Step by Step

  • Deliverables
  • Handoffs
  • Elapsed Time
  • Inventory
  • Waste

Chapter 15. How to Synchronize Buyers and Sellers

  • Communication
  • Establishing Goals
  • Clarifying Requirements
  • Expectations and Commitments
  • Tools for Synchronization

Chapter 16. An Integrated Buying and Selling Process

  • One Process, Two Participants
  • Building in Quality
  • Predictability of Sales Closing

Chapter 17. The Extended Sales Team

  • Who Cares About Sales?
  • Who’s Supporting Sales?
  • Is Everyone Playing on the Same Team?
  • Sales Can Lead the Way

Part IV. Sales as a System

Chapter 18. Teamwork

  • The Secret Sauce
  • Craftsmen to Specialists
  • The Rise of Mass Production
  • Mass Production to Functional Silos
  • Mean to Lean
  • Lean Thinking Eliminates Functional Silos

Chapter 19. Specifying Value

  • Defining Value
  • Clarifying Value
  • Increasing Value
  • Value as a Decision-Making Tool
  • Voice of the Customer

Chapter 20. Identifying the Value Stream

  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Developing Metrics
  • Current State
  • Identifying Waste
  • Future State

Chapter 21. Creating Flow

  • What Is Flow?
  • Why Flow Is Hard
  • Why Flow Is Important
  • Flow in Sales
  • Compressing the Buying Process
  • The Buying Plan

Chapter 22. Enabling Pull

  • What Is Pull?
  • Getting to Pull
  • Waste, Inventory, Flow, and Pull
  • Suboptimization
  • Leaning Customer Service
  • Pull and Sales
  • A Radical Idea

Chapter 23. Pursuing Perfection

  • Continuous Improvement
  • Steady State
  • Motivation
  • An Incremental Approach
  • A Self-Sustaining System

Chapter 24. Making It Visual

  • Establishing KPIs
  • Status Reporting
  • Transparency
  • Early Warning
  • Intervention

Chapter 25. Trainers, Coaches, Consultants, and Teachers

  • Inertia
  • Change Agents
  • Trainers
  • Coaches
  • Consultants
  • Teachers

Chapter 26. When to Get Started with a Sales Transformation

  • Habit 3
  • Lean Thinking and Quadrant II
  • Lean Selling and Quadrant II
  • Timing a Lean Transformation

Chapter 27. How to Get Started with a Sales Transformation

  • Are You Ready to Bite or Just Nibble?
  • Four Focus Areas
  • How to Apply
  • CEOs, COOs, Senior Executives
  • Sales Executives and Managers
  • Salespeople

Chapter 28. A 90-Day Plan to Transform Sales in Your Organization

  • You Are Ready
  • The 90-Day Plan
  • Summary and Next Steps

Appendix A: Value Stream Mapping Symbols

Appendix B: List of Lean Learnings

Appendix C: List of Sidebars

Appendix D: Lean Selling Coaching Resources

Resources

  • Books
  • Tools

Foreword by J. Jeffrey Campbell Brinker Executive in Residence and Director, Master of Science Program, San Diego State University School of Hospitality & Tourism Former Chairman and CEO, Burger King Corporation

If you’ve ever been through an extended and costly selling process with a big company only to receive the dreaded “slow no” after months of effort and thousands of dollars of investment, you might want to give this book your focused attention.

New ideas take time to percolate through the industrial landscape. I first read The Machine That Changed the World, about the Lean Revolution, back in 1990 when it first appeared on the bookshelves (the disappearance of those bookshelves represents another change percolating through the landscape). Since that time, the benefits of the Toyota Production System have become much more widely known and appreciated across multiple industries.

However, new ideas and new technologies also take time to create impact beyond their initial landing zones. This has certainly been true for the Lean concept.

Now Robert Pryor has applied the same Lean discipline and methodologies that transformed manufacturing to the selling process and the relationship between sellers and buyers. The result is something of a revelation . . . and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better or more comprehensive guide to that tradition-shattering idea on the book market today.

The waste embedded in most sales efforts is significant. Perhaps this is a vestige of the happy days of yore when the pace of change was slower and firms could delude themselves into thinking that they were in possession of some form of “sustainable competitive advantage.” Under circumstances like that—even if partially imaginary—perhaps some degree of waste and imprecision could be tolerated.

Well, those days are dead and gone. Today’s only real competitive advantage, as Arie DeGeus has suggested, is the ability to learn faster than your competitors. And if your organization is used to depending heavily on a core process that remains unexamined, it just might turn out to be the fatal flaw that takes you down.

Hence, the relevance and urgency of this book.

As I read chapter after chapter, I realized that the thrust of the argument made complete sense and reinforced ideas I already considered to be powerful aids to leading in a complex and ever-changing environment. But new points and insights about “error-proofing customers” and “value stream mapping” were real grabbers, and I have become increasingly intrigued by the notion of multi-functional teams supporting the selling effort.

Like the best books do, this one has changed the way I think about the subject of selling. Even better, it has direct applicability to my current role as well.

As I proceeded through the book, it dawned on me that everything Robert Pryor talks about here applies directly to the recruiting effort I manage at San Diego State University for our new online Master’s program. I had been thinking about that process as recruiting, but it really is selling . . . and the process by which we do that task is established enough now for a thorough review—and likely overhaul—according to the principles presented in this book. We’ll be the better for it, I am sure.

If your organization counts on strong and effective selling capability, you’d be well advised to check out Robert Pryor’s Lean Selling.

It’s well worth your time.

“Lean Selling is the most important sales management book of the last 25 years. Why? Most people who manage sales departments are winging it. Nearly all of them have learned by doing and they became sales managers because they were very good salespeople. Most have been trained by other sales managers who never had any formal training either. With this in mind, Lean Selling shows us why 90% of today’s sales processes are broken. This book will change forever the way you sell and manage. Enjoy the ‘aha’ moments.”

—Al Davidson President, Strategic Sales & Marketing, Inc.


“Most sales leaders struggle to get their entire sales team to perform at the level of their ‘A-Players.’ Too many sales books focus on trying to change a salesperson’s behavior to achieve this. Robert Pryor’s book focuses on defining a sales process to yield consistent sales results for your company’s product or solution. Lean Selling provides the tools you require to define then refine your sales process as market and competitive conditions change. The end result is achieving both predictable sales and customer satisfaction.”

—Craig Jack Former Managing Client Partner, Verizon Enterprise Solutions Former Managing Director, KPMG Consulting


“Robert Pryor has written a book on a subject already covered by tons of books over the years but managed to give it a twist that makes it very engaging and relevant. The book is well written, insightful, and timely; the emergence of Internet commerce has had a profound impact on the sales profession as we know it.”

—Ake Persson Retired CEO, Ericsson Wireless Communications, Inc.


“Tired of the dreaded ‘slow no’ emerging after months of sales resources turn out to have been poured into a black hole? Lean Selling, by Robert Pryor, really woke me up to how complacent some of us are about our sales processes, and how that complacency connects directly to those sub-optimal results. Starting with the same lean thinking that produced the Toyota Production System, Robert has suggested some very practical and effective ways to get better bang for your sales investment dollar. It’s a ‘must read.’ ”

—J. Jeffrey Campbell Brinker Executive in Residence and Director, Master of Science Program, San Diego State University School of Hospitality & Tourism Former Chairman and CEO, Burger King Corporation


“Lean Selling? I love it. I’ve been using lean principles with my inside sales organization for a year now to improve customer fit and the buyer experience. The result has been astronomical growth in sales for my company. My biggest challenge now is getting salespeople on-boarded with our lean sales process fast enough to take advantage of the opportunities we have in front of us.”

—Kevin Gaither Vice President of Inside Sales, ZipRecruiter, Inc. President Los Angeles Chapter of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals


“For me, Lean Selling turns the traditional sales management process on its head—in a good way. Sales process improvements are usually internally-focused. This book looked at that part of the journey. However, it was the external focus of Lean Selling that really opened my eyes. This book helped me to see how an organization can manage the customer process more intelligently—and ultimately more effectively. I’ve had exposure to lean manufacturing and lean management process improvement in the past, but this is the first time I have seen these powerful ideas applied to the sales process. Great work!”

—Jim LaMarca Director, Brand Strategy & Sales IDEA Health & Fitness, Inc.

Use This Book as an Excuse

The primary purpose of this book is to expose senior executive team members and sales managers to the possibilities Lean can provide for their company’s selling process. If you are not yet a sales manager or a member of the senior executive team, but are intrigued by the ideas presented in this book and think they might be helpful to your company, pass this book on to the most innovative person you know at the executive level of your organization when you are finished reading it. At a minimum, it will make for a great excuse to talk business with that senior executive in your company, and that can’t be bad!

The Lean Startup

Did you know that Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, is a Lean adopter, in the form of The Lean Startup methodology, and that he makes the book of the same name* required reading for all GE managers? I assume he did so because he likes the ideas the book presents, but I also think it might be because the book introduces a language for its key concepts that GE employees can adopt to facilitate discussing startup ideas, including such terms as “pivot” and “validated learning.” Who would have thought that a set of principles that originated in the factory could be turned into a system that helps to make starting a new company a repeatable, efficient process? This is yet another example of how Lean Thinking can be adopted and adapted creatively into completely new arenas, with outstanding results.

If Lean can improve the way to run a startup, then why can’t it improve the way to run sales as well? Will Lean Selling be the next success story in the creative application of Lean Thinking? I certainly hope so. If you are a CEO or executive, and you like the Lean Selling ideas presented in my book, you also might want to consider making it required reading for your team or employees. If nothing else, it will give your team a common language for discussing the novel concepts presented in this book, as they work toward improving sales productivity and performance.

*The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

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