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Clearing the path to a more effective sales team

A “New Initiative” to many employees can often sound like “More Work.”  And I’m guessing your sales team won’t be the first to volunteer to add more work to their schedules. So the easiest way to get your team on board is to start with identifying things they do that aren’t efficient and maybe even a “waste of time.”

Being stuck in the windmill prevents strategic work from being doneIdentify Sales Waste, avoid getting stuck in the windmill (image)

You may have heard it before, but being “stuck in the windmill” is being busy the entire time you are at work with day-to-day tasks and putting out fires, where you can’t spend any time on strategy.

  • How much time do you have carved out for strategy?
  • How much of your time is spent putting out fires and over-managing your team?
  • How much of your team’s time could be spent on selling to high-value prospects if they weren’t stuck doing a lot of non-value-add activities?

Ask anyone if they have spare time in their work day for a new project and it will likely be “No.”  So first let’s clear the path for your team to grow by getting rid of sales waste.

Identify value, requirements and waste

In order to free up space in your team’s schedule to strategically grow, we need to borrow a page from Toyota, and identify the types of work performed by your team and whether we can get rid of that work.  Let’s define work into three types:

Value Add Work (VA):

Value Add Work is simply anything your team does that your customers value, would pay for, or helps guide them to a sale or higher satisfaction.

Business-Value Add Work (BVA):

Business-Value Add Work are things that your team is required to do in order to help the company succeed.  This can include adhering to certain processes, creating reports, and collecting data that helps other teams.

Non-Value Add Work (NVA):

Non-Value Add Work includes anything your team feels like they are stuck doing but doesn’t help them close more sales, increase customer satisfaction or benefit the company.

  • Still require paper contracts, certified mail, & ink signatures?
  • Require your team to come to the office before and in between sales calls?
  • Team stuck waiting on documents, proposals, permission, answers for prospects?
  • Collect data that never gets used?
  • Suffer from data double-entry?
  • Does your team have to manually recreate emails, answers, and documents vs. using templates?

Don’t worry if you think some of this is pointed at you. It’s NOT. It’s pointed at the system, and you are here to optimize that system for sales growth with your team. Work Smarter with Lean Sales

Let’s Go!

Here’s how to actually get this done with your team.

Week 1

1. Identify a leader from the team

To start off right, pre-select a member of the sales team you think will excel at this task. This person should be a champion who will help keep the process on track even during exercises they are not leading.

  • Who on the team will follow through on their own and is respected by their peers on the team?
  • Who would you trust to take your position if you moved on?

2. Have a 30 minute talk with your selected leader

Setup a meeting with the exercise leader to tell them:

  • about Growth Heroes
  • your goals for the program
  • why you want them to lead the first exercise

Make sure you get buy in from this person!

3. The Workshop Meeting

Introduce Growth Heroes

  • State the sales team’s current goals
  • Tell them how Growth Heroes is designed to help remove unnecessary and ineffective work from sales and then provide better processes and support to make more sales without more work.
  • Discuss the format of Growth Heroes:
    • Each exercise will have a different leader
    • Each exercise is two weeks long
    • Week 1 is a workshop to identify solutions
    • Week 2 is the Action Plan & Implementation

Exercise: Identify the Value of Work

  • Draw out on a large whiteboard the Work Value Matrix (download a PDF copy)
    • (If you have to, put each section on a different easel, but we don’t recommend it)
  • Explain the concepts of Value-Add, Business-Value-Add, and Non-Value-Add work
  • The hard part: conduct an honest open conversation around what work is not valuable.
    • Start by offering your own examples from each category and explain why you see them as VA, BVA, or NVA
      • Gain some trust by offering at least one thing you have created and can eliminate that is NVA work
    • Write these on post-it notes and gain consensus from the team on where on the time scale they should be placed.
    • Continue until you have a good representation of what 95% of your team’s time is spent on
  • Once you have a good set of activities spread on the time scale, come to a consensus with the team on what percent of time is spent on each category as a whole. Is the team spending 40% of their time on value-add work?

PRO TIP: Have the leader stand in the front and write on the board and act as the facilitator after you have explained the exercise and concepts. You should sit with the team and act as a participant, helping the leader only when necessary. The first meeting is complete. Pat yourself on the back, and have the exercise leader take a picture of the board! Ideally you will be able to keep the matrix up for several weeks as we will reuse it in the next course.  If not at least keep the post-its so you can put them back up on the board next time.

The Report

Now that you and the team have taken the first step, let’s catalyze the work you’ve done into an executive report and action plan that includes:

  • Top 5 Value Add Work tasks
  • Top 5 Business-Value Add Work tasks
  • Top 5 Non-Value Add Work tasks
  • Breakdown of avg. time spent on VA, BVA & NVA work
  • Estimated time savings from removal of largest 5 NVA work tasks
  • Estimated time savings from removal of largest 5 BVA tasks
  • Estimated increased revenue

Once this report is done, have the leader share it with the team, hopefully by uploading it to a collaboration space, vs. emailing it.

Week 2

The Follow Up Meeting

This first follow up meeting should take place the next week at the same time as the workshop.  This is where you:

  • recap all the hard work that was done
  • unveil and present the report that has been created
  • inform the team next week will be focused on attacking the NVAs and BVAs to try and get rid of them
  • solicit feedback and a discussion on where the Growth Heroes system can take the team
  • announce the leader of the next session

That’s It!

How valuable was part 1 of this free course? How likely are you to recommend this to a friend or colleague?   We’re optimists, and figure if you got this far you might want to easily share this with others. In an effort to minimize and automate work for you 🙂 here are some social sharing links:

Next: Eliminate, Automate or Delegate

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