Thursday, September 21, 2023

An effective sales tool for business growth

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Steve Shaheen, CEO and Founder, DTG.

How can you argue with a business strategy that is proven to improve quality, increase efficiency, reduce waste, increase employee productivity and increase customer satisfaction? Simply, that is not possible. Therefore, according to an economic analysis by MS Khatumbra, more and more organizations are adopting Six Sigma “to improve their processes and products to gain competitive advantage.”

Developed by Motorola in 1986, the strategy was created to improve manufacturing processes. In the mid-1990s, Six Sigma was championed by Jack Welch as an important part of his business strategy at General Electric. By the end of the 20th century, more than half of Fortune 500 companies had adopted Six Sigma, and in the past 20 years it has reportedly saved Fortune 500 companies an estimated $427 billion. Today, Six Sigma is increasingly being used to improve processes beyond the production floor, including in the data-intensive arena of business development. My company is included in this.

So, based on my experience using it, how can you use Six Sigma methodologies to drive sales and build connections with new prospects? Imagine the following situation.

Start with the questions.

That’s what any business strategy expert will tell you. Armed with current data and the answers to important questions, you can begin to understand what your potential customer is doing and how they are doing it. Never underestimate the value of well thought out questions.

The answers to your questions can also provide you with the information to clearly articulate how your product or service improves the quality of their products or processes. From that informed position, you work backwards to identify the issues, validate your solution and calculate the expected ROI so you can aim for victory straight away.

This is where a Lean Six Sigma approach to business development comes in. Lean is well known in manufacturing and refers to methods that help identify and eliminate business waste; Six Sigma refers to techniques used to improve processes and quality. The Six Sigma methodology includes five key steps: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC).

This quality-oriented approach to reducing product defects makes it an excellent business development strategy. Unlike the typical transactional approach to sales, an investigative and consultative approach, based on Lean Six Sigma principles, allows you to better understand your customers’ needs and even spot problems they don’t have. You can identify the sources of waste in their systems and processes, quantify the true cost of that waste, create specific product requirements, and provide solutions that more directly meet their needs.

Go to Gemba.

By one definition, gemba translates to “the actual place” in Japanese, and “in lean practices it refers to”the place where value is created.’” By going to Gemba you can see the operations first hand, witness the waste and identify inefficient processes and areas where there is the greatest need for a solution, whether on the production line in a production facility , in the dining room of a university campus or in a distribution warehouse of a large e-commerce company. An added benefit of these on-site surveys is that they allow you to understand customer needs better than the needs they have articulated, which can often lead to new product development initiatives for your own business.

Remove objections via data.

Data is a crucial aspect of your sales process. It’s your proof. It’s the exclamation point at the end of your pitch. Many things are subjective, but data is not. By taking the time to understand your customers’ operations, you can validate your company’s value proposition and quantify your product’s productivity gains in terms directly related to the customer. Through this process, you can create a detailed ROI report that outlines the waste and root causes of inefficiency and how your product solves these problems.

For example, a Lean Six Sigma study by my company for a large shipping and logistics organization identified significant wasted motion issues with one of their outbound shipment processes. We were able to help them identify more than 180 minutes of wasted time each day in the many physical and process steps involved in achieving their shipping goals. This wasted time soon led to a cost of about $750 per day, or $273,000 per year. Access to this data helped the company make more informed decisions to significantly reduce motion wastage, minimize post-processing waste and add value by creating a less labor-intensive process.

The next time you identify a sales lead, instead of jumping right in to close the deal, step back and instill confidence with a laser-focused, data-driven approach. One that defines, measures and analyzes your prospect’s processes, challenges and current situation.

Understanding where the waste and bottlenecks are in the prospect’s processes related to productivity, workflow, labor, raw materials and safety provides the perfect prelude to a solution and a certain chance to close the deal. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

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