Continuous improvement is behind one of the most attractive parts about a Lean Selling system—the consistent increase in results from your sales team. Structured and precise continuous improvement in sales, though? This sounds like a doable goal when it comes to manufacturing, where the Lean process first came into being, but what about a process that’s not creating something tangible, like sales?
You can’t really continuously improve your entire sales process without making it as Lean as possible. That’s where Lean Selling comes in, and why it can be such a valuable asset for a company looking to increase the results of their sales efforts. The concept behind continuous improvement probably seems fairly self-explanatory, at least on the surface, and is probably a pretty attractive idea to you as a sales director or manager (or even salesperson looking to move up!). You continually look for ways to improve your sales process—what’s so hard about that?
Well, it can be significantly more complicated than it seems on the surface. If you’ve ever tried to implement any process improvements, even minor ones, you’re probably aware of just how difficult it can be. With this in mind, the idea of a sales-department-wide overhaul might be pretty daunting.
If you’re not ready to take the full leap into a complete Lean Selling system update of your sales process, there’s a few smaller Lean Thinking actions you can take that can help increase the results of your sales efforts. Even these relatively minor changes in your sales team and sales process can have a significant impact on your sales:
- Encourage a Growth Mindset: Whoa, you’re probably saying. I thought these would be technical or specific things my team could be doing that’ll increase their sales? What’s this about a growth mindset? The thing about a growth mindset is that it allows for those with it to look for, and experience, the continuous improvement you’re trying to achieve. Those with a growth mindset are not only better able to adapt to their lives all around, but also are the ones capable of finding areas of improvement in a sales process. Carol Dweck has an excellent book on the topic, and you can read a bit more about what constitutes a growth mindset (and what makes it different from a fixed mindset) by clicking here.
- Empower your Sales Team with Improved Communication: You can’t encourage your team to continuously improve if your team doesn’t feel like they can reach out to you with ideas or suggestions for improvement. Even with a team full of ‘lone wolves’, you can still implement a system for regular and easy communication, which is vital to ensuring there’s improvement in your entire sales team. Lean Selling isn’t alone in recommending this; you can read more about increased sales as a direct result of excellent communication by clicking here.
- Avoid the Trap of the Status Quo: It’s easy to decide to wait on implementing any changes until you are absolutely sure you’ve mapped out every possible improvement for every single problem, big or small, you think you have in your system. By doing this, you’re putting off the difficult work of actually trying to make any improvements. It’s better to start doing something, anything, and start to make improvements rather than get mired down with indecisiveness. Some of the problems you end up needing to solve may not even be visible until you start other improvements—so just get started!
These concepts behind continuous improvement aren’t exclusive to Lean Thinking—you can apply them and see results for yourself. You’ll see far greater results with a complete adoption of Lean Selling, but in the meantime, these will get you and your sales team on the path to a Lean mindset. Interested in learning more about key aspects of Lean Selling? Sign up for the Lean Learnings in the form at the bottom of this post – it’s a free, 12 week series of excerpts from my book, discussing specific aspects of Lean Thinking and how they apply to sales.
What results are you seeing from implementing any of these three continuous improvement concepts?
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About: Robert Pryor is a Lean Selling author and community builder as well as a CEO, speaker, and educator on cutting-edge sales processes. His new book is Lean Selling: How to Slash Your Sales Cycle and Drive Profitable, Predictable Revenue Growth by Giving Buyers What They Really Want. Follow by joining the LinkedIn Group “Lean Selling” or on Twitter @LeanSelling.