The Little PDCA Sales Loop

The fundamental goals of your sales cycle should be one of discovery, learning and adaptability with a shared responsibility for a successful outcome. That implies that it is all about engaging both organizations into effective problem solving and learning. In applying this, think of the sales cycle in terms of a series of iterative loops of problem solving and knowledge creation. Taking this approach each iterative loop (PDCA) of the sales cycle should be built around:

Understanding the customer’s needs: Before an iterative loop starts there has to be need for the answer or the outcome. It may sound silly but many people start a sales cycle based on their thoughts. They think they can improve something, but it may not be what the customer needs. Breaking down the sales cycle into a series of iterative loops allows you to describe the outcome of that individual loop completely before starting.

Managing knowledge growth versus tasks: It takes integration of the customer along with the sales and marketing team to look at alternatives and quickly reject bad ideas and keep the good ones. It’s building upon those learning cycles for greater understanding of the customer’s needs and problems.

Managing hand-offs to support or the next cycle: Putting execution into the learning cycles is exactly what we talk about when we discuss handoffs. Understanding or having the need of the customer defined clearly for the next cycle is what allows us to execute.

In lieu of having these iterative sales cycles, we typically would have sales and sometimes engineering go out talk to customers on the needed, put together huge proposals to find out that much of it may or may not be needed and/or by the time the proposal was completed the requirements have changed.

At first, customer may question a process like this. However, organizations that are making decisions by committee are most often your most willing participant. They relish that discussion can take place on a peer to peer basis and across organization boundaries. Their assembled team values the fact that their opinions are considered outside of their organization. As a result of this type of process, a tremendous amount of wasted time is reduced and a better definition of their needs are defined. The result typically means a better, faster, and sometimes even cheaper solution.

The ability to generate the required knowledge effectively and efficiently in the customer decision making process will ultimately make you the preferred supplier.

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Related Posts:
The Marketing Knowledge Spiral
PDCA for Lean Marketing, Knowledge Creation
Lean Marketing Creates Knowledge for the Customer
Power of Check = The Pivot in PDCA
The Role of PDCA in a Lean Sales and Marketing Cycle