Smart Selling

It’s Time to Apply Manufacturing Standards to the Sales Process. Here’s How!

To say the rate at which manufacturing has evolved since the start of the Industrial Revolution is significant would be an understatement. While there’s always room for improvement, we’ve pretty much got the big stuff down to such a science that we’ve turned a lot of our attention to trying to perfect all of the minute details.

Think about the things you evaluate on your factory, shop or warehouse floor: uniformity, consistency, manufacturing cycle time, capacity utilization, machine precision and so much more. You measure and re-measure everything to save every dime you can and yield the right quality and quantity of product. Without a doubt, these things have driven the exponential progress of the industry over the years. Take, for example, General Mills, who just announced that it saved over $10 million since 2013 by addressing what to the untrained eye would merely look like a minor ingredient overage issue.

But there’s something that has been around just as long as manufacturing that does not seem to have reached this same level of perfection and precision: sales.

Because of rapidly changing markets, the way we sell evolves every day. However, this is no excuse for not perfecting the sales process itself. What if we were to take the dedication we have to precision and efficiency on the factory floor and apply it to our sales process? That could make for an eye-opening experience!

Getting Started: Using CRM to Evaluate Effectiveness

These days, CRM systems are very sophisticated—at least they can be if you know how to use them properly. You can track your buyers’ journeys from their very first touch with you all the way to the close of the sale, as well as your relationship afterwards.

Now put on your factory-floor lenses.

Study everything from your qualified and disqualified leads to the open, closed and lost opportunities to your sales pipeline and revenue streams. Dig into your system and start looking very closely at metrics like:

  • Length of the sales cycle
  • Sales by contact method
  • Sales revenue trends
  • Quote-to-close ratio
  • Opportunity win rate

Once you have identified these numbers and other important KPIs, compare them to industry trends and track and measure against them on a consistent basis. Precision starts with metrics. Be dedicated to your tracking methods and your rules of measurement.

Accounting for Efficiency

If we’re comparing sales to an assembly-line process, then the goal of sales is to close more deals faster without sacrificing the quality—or value—of each individual sale. While CRM systems are great for evaluating and tracking your sales process, it doesn’t put the pieces together for you. Your sales assembly line needs that “robotic arm” that can pick up the right components and put them where they need to be quickly, repeatedly and consistently.

This is why configure-price-quote technology is starting to command more attention from senior leadership in sales. CPQ adds accuracy and efficiency to the sale. It puts the back-house knowledge into the hands of the salesperson. The rules operating behind CPQ govern a few major things:

  • They only allow your sales team to configure and sell products that your company actually makes (in other words, sales can’t promise something the company can’t deliver).
  • Pricing is consistent across the board.
  • The entire process is standardized across individuals and channels (no one can go rogue; easier onboarding, training, etc.).

This front-end efficiency is also a major bonus from the customer’s perspective. It makes the company easy to do business with, and that’s becoming an increasingly important variable in why consumers make purchasing decisions.

Finding the Edge

When it comes to manufacturing products, there’s a pretty good roadmap for how to organize and operate factories and produce goods. Now manufacturers are looking for their competitive edge in the details of their processes. It’s time to view sales through the same lens. The way your organization sells can be just as big of an advantage as the way you make what you sell. It’s all about precision and efficiency. Do it right, and you’ll be turning out dollars with assembly-line efficiency.

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