Continuous improvement is a process of making constant small improvements. It has primarily been adopted in manufacturing settings, but has just as much value for sales management teams. The compound effect of adopting the continuous improvement process can be incredible.
Every sales management team should already be focusing on making continual improvements to their processes, but in practice that is often not the case. Improvements to sales process can increase revenue, customer satisfaction and employee morale, while reducing costs, time, waste and required resources along with countless other benefits of a continuous improvement mentality within your sales team.
Let’s take a look at some basic steps to making continual improvements.
- Identifying an area or process that needs to be improved
- Review process step by step from the beginning of the process all the way to the end
- Create a process map that lists each of the steps along with time frames involved
- Review process map for non-value added steps
- Create a future state process map showing proposed new steps and time frames of each step
- Develop executive summary
- Present findings to management team
- Obtain new process approval from management team
- Implement new process
- Start on the next process that needs improvement
For change to work, I recommend the use of cross functional teams in your continuous improvement process. A cross functional team is when you have at least one representatives from every department involved in a specific process. If a cross functional team member is not a decision maker, make sure the decision maker for the department knows they are responsible for completion of their department’s part of the process improvement. Say you want to improve your order flow, it may include the following departments: order entry, customer service, sales, manufacturing, quality and the credit department. Improvements needed in each of the functional areas are more likely to happen if they were involved in the development of the new process.
I have taken part in several continuous improvement events over the years. At first the events were all manufacturing related. It is amazing how much can get done in a week if you put together a group of people that have a common cause. As time passed, I started using these methodologies to make improvements in our sales department. These efforts had a great impact on the efficiencies of the department and on both customer and employee satisfaction.
This blog post is intended to only get you thinking about continuous improvement for sales. If you want to learn more about continuous improvement, I would recommend getting a good book or training from an expert in the process. If your organization is large enough, you may already have individuals on staff in your quality or operations team that have in-depth training on the subject that could help you to start the process within your sales department. If you have not implemented continuous improvement in your sales department, now is the time. You will be amazed at impact of adopting this philosophy.
Please share your experiences in developing a continuous improvement process in your sales department. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.
David Domos developed WhyBuyFromYou.com to provide content to help small businesses develop their branding, marketing and sales systems. In the past he held key leadership positions for a fortune 500 company. That company led the market in both sales and brand awareness and David was a significant contributor to its growth. David has been on the Amazon.com best seller list in their Direct Marketing, Communications and Entrepreneurship categories. He is a student of sales, marketing, branding & small business growth, continually focusing on the reasons people buy. Follow him on Twitter @WhyBuyFromYou or visit www.whybuyfromyou.com.