Friday, July 15, 2005

Lean Sales

To implement Lean Sales you have to do this:
. . . learn how a philosophy of avoiding waste of time, empowering CSR's and production people and getting more customers with an efficient, sustainable and well defined process can make their printing companies much healthier.
Here's what I mean:
Imagine that there are 5 bins: suspects, prospects, customers, clients and community of clients. The job of sales is to move people from one bin to the next one. The creative part is figuring the easiest way to get them to move.

What has to get done:
1. Find Suspects.
2. Move Suspects into the Prospect bin.
3. Move Prospects into the Customer bin.
4. Move Customers into the Client bin.
5. Nourish a Book of Business based on a Community of Clients.

Then come the real payoffs.
1. You (either a person or an organization) get a little breathing space to enjoy the fruits of the investment of your business time. Then you have either business or personal time to do what you really want to do.
2. Once you have a community of clients, you're in a much better position to figure out new things that are easy for you and hard for them. That should be a pretty easy sell.

How do you know you are on the right track?
You need clear definitions that tell you which person is in which bin.

1. Suspects are anyone that you can easily reach.
It could be new businesses within 2 miles of your plant. It could be a specific industry like pharms or publishing or non profits or designers. It could be buyers in the education, health or government space.
2. A prospect is someone who has asked for an estimate.
3. A customer is someone who has given you a job.
4. A client is someone who has given you a couple of jobs over some defined time period.
5. A book of business is a community of clients for whom you are the trusted go-to person when they need to make a printing decision.

What you should do:
1. Divide your present customer list into prospects, customers and clients.
2. Figure out the most efficient ways to move everyone from a lower bin to a higher bin.
3. Look at the indicators EVERY day to figure out what is giving you the highest ROT. (Return on Time was coined by Dr. Joe Webb). Be flexible and creative with your tactics. If a tactic isn't working, try another one. But don't change the strategy - do something every day to move individuals from a lower bin to a higher one.

What are the hard parts?
1. You have to sell stuff that people want to buy.
If you are selling the ability to communicate in print, better, faster, cheaper with a minimum risk, every person or entrepreneur or business needs that. If they are not buying, don't blame them. Figure out what has to change in your product to make it valuable.

2. Who has the time?
Sending and answering emails and phone calls, getting the specs right, going to useless meetings (either internal or external) and then chasing jobs that are in the plant does not leave alot of time left. That's why this is not about investing more time. It's about investing LESS time in activities that have low ROT, to find the time for activities that have high ROT.

3. How can I get real time information?
If you have an active customer facing web site, it's pretty easy. If not, there are lots of workarounds. It's mostly about focusing on customer exchanges. Blogging helps.

4. Why should I bother?
Situations change so unexpectedly that even a client from your book of business can disappear. People get fired or move to a new job. Companies can get bought and your contact network loses the power to buy. So, you have to keep the pipeline filled.

No doubt, it's all easier said then done. But then so is everything. A few really blessed professionals do it naturally. The rest of us have to practice and need some help. But you can't do the right thing, if you don't have a clear idea of what the right thing is.

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