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Sales w/ 6 Sigma

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  • #38670

    Juchniewicz
    Member

    Hi all,
    My company is not currently looking for a total cultural change, but I’ve been tasked with looking into 6 Sigma training for our sales people. (perhaps there’s hope?)
    Our sales people are often tasked with helping our customers to define their problems and demonstrate how our products will help solve their issues. I can definitely see where 6 Sigma could help with that, but am not seeing any training that is tailored for sales people. It all seems to be aimed toward management and internal company processes. Do you have any recommendations or advice for me? Thanks

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    #116077

    ITK
    Participant

    I hear, from my inside sources, that there’s a full length article on applying SS to marketing and sales in the may issue of isixsigma magazine. You may want to check it out…although I don’t see anything listed on the magazine website about that issue yet…
    ITK

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    #116079

    Dale
    Participant

    I would suggest you break your sales process down into its key processes.  For the one process you gave as an example, matching customer problems to solutions.  Sounds like VOC/CTQ.  Talk about Kano analysis, ranking CTQs with AHP/QFD.  Might get into metrics, then MBFs. 

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    #116081

    MP
    Participant

    I think you really need to ask why? What is the business issue? What are the facts and circumstances that are giving rise to the potential training? Is the VOC saying that your people can’t sell “solutions” or don’t have the business acumen to have a value discussion … common problems today as many firms are trying to move from being product-centric to solution-centric …
    What specifically do you want sales people to be able to do differently (how will you know) – if you don’t know how to measure it or quantify the impact, it’s going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to determine progress and benefit …
    Sales is a process – both art and science – SS has some great tools to uncover so key issues w/in any business … it can add additional tools to the sales person’s toolbox (and would do even more if well integrated into the org) – but so does Solution Selling or SPIN or Selling to VITO or The Executive Conversation or other various sales methodologies (which are NOT SS – but do satisfy a particular need) – what is the specific need, what is the objective, and what is the best approach … those are the key questions …
    MP

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    #116082

    McD
    Participant

    Actually, I think some sales organizations see a need to understand what their customers’ are going on about when they talk about this Six Sigma “stuff”.
    A while back several folks suggested I should establish a Six Sigma for salespeople course.  I never did, but there is clearly a market, and I can’t imagine someone hasn’t filled it by now.
    So, don’t get your hopes up.  Might not be that “their” processes need improving … they just need to understand the language of their customer (not that this is necessarily a bad thing!)
    –McD
     

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    #116085

    MP
    Participant

    If McD is right, and your people need to understand the language of SS, then that’s one objective or established need …
    For example, maybe many of your customers are SS orgs and your sales people are losing credibility by not being to discuss or understand their SS initiatives/projects and data-driven mentality. This lack of credibility and understanding may be resulting in lower customer sat and win rates compared to your competition. Also, in doing a needs analysis, your sales people can’t call on the tools of SS to demonstate their knowledge to help flesh out the problem and potential solutions …
    Using Kirkpatrick’s measurement levels, you could do a test for SS knowledge after the training; Level 3 you could do some random calls w/ sales people to see how they are applying SS understandings in a sales call situation (will get some demand charateristics here); Level 4 you could look at win rates w/ SS orgs v. not SS orgs and types of deals won – broader solution v. tactical, point …
    MP

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    #116143

    Juchniewicz
    Member

    That’s exactly what I need, a Six Sigma course for salespeople. At the very least to help them know what it is, but possibly more than that. We may go with training for just a few vs. everyone as was originally suggested to me. I’m rather new to sales let alone finding out more about 6 Sigma.
    Basically, like with most marketing/sales departments, we’ve given them processes and tools to use, most of which seem well received. What I’d like to do is to give them more than that. We have some small interest in SS thus far, and while we could eventually roll out a full deployment this may be our “foot in the door”.
    We provide software for asset and service management, our sales cycle is rather long and very involved. I’d love to find something  that would help them to look deeper into the information that is provided to them by our prospects. Perhaps knowing SS could help them to look at everything with a different understanding, I don’t know. That’s what I’m hoping to find out.
    Terri

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    #116148

    McD
    Participant

    “We provide software for asset and service management”
    Ack!  Talk about a minefield.  That really does sound like an interesting challenge.
    I do find in hard to imagine that what you are looking for isn’t available.  I’m in Michigan, where there are quite a number of large companies which practice Six Sigma.  As a result of all these large companies, there are great hordes of manufacturer’s reps and distributors calling on these companies and trying to figure out what their customers are going on about.
    Are you near any such concentration?  Perhaps some of these guys would have a lead for you.
    I wish I had something I could take off the shelf for you … sounds like a fun thing.
    –McD
     

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    #116149

    Juchniewicz
    Member

    San Diego…I’ve been looking online for several days now and spoken with a couple of people. No one I’ve found has anything “off the shelf”. While I don’t mind some tailoring, I haven’t found anything specifically for sales teams to begin with. Anything would be good at this point.

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    #116151

    McD
    Participant

    Perigrine, I presume!
    How intense of an intro do you want to give these guys?  An hour? A day?  A week?
    I assume you would like something you could conduct yourself?
    If it were me, and I obviously don’t have complete visibility into what you are trying to accomplish, I would think a series of short conducts.  I’m guessing that you would loose folks if you bottled them up in a room for too long.  Seems like it shouldn’t be so hard to put something together.
    –McD
     

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    #116152

    Schuette
    Participant

    Terri,
    We run a Sales Greenbelt that lasts 4 days.  We’ve had very good projects come out of that, including a Black Belt that increased revenue $11MM/year through productivity increases, allowing the sales people to call on more customers with greatest potential.  I don’t believe you need anything specific to Sales – what you need is training targeted to what is important to your sales needs.  You don’t need to train your people in DOE, or hypothesis testing, or even regression.  You need (I think, based on my own experience) good customer definition, real VOC, AHP, QFD, MSA, and some dashboard building for your control charts.  Sales isn’t that complicated, but it also usually not controlled very well – that’s your challenge in my opinion.  Find someone to give you the basic blocking & tackling.

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    #116153

    MP
    Participant

    Terri:
    As the previous posters have suggested, the sales team will only swallow so much … I work w/ sales all the time and it’s important to make sure that it’s palatable and not overly complex (e.g., keep it to the 3 things you need to do) … I’m not sure you (or your team) couldn’t “build” something yourself, potentially w/ some help.
    I would potentially look at piloting something w/ some early adopters and opinion leaders – get some quick wins, and then let them “sell” the program/training to their colleagues – training is a process vs. event and you need to think about your follow-up strategy and the management support/reinforcement system …
    Bottom line, how does it translate into more $$ for the sales people and make their life easier (the WIIFM) … we need to go back to your objective – I’d look at doing a charter document to get your thinking aligned and to lay out the problem, business case, goal state, and scope. Also, socialize the charter and ideas w/ some key sales people/managers – they should be able to tell you what will work and where the gaps are …
    MP

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    #116157

    Juchniewicz
    Member

    Lol, you got it (doing your homework?). I’m not ready to conduct it myself, was thinking more along the lines of bringing someone in for onsite training.
    I’m thinking about something we could integrate into our quarterly training sessions, maybe a day or two for everyone. My greatest concern is gaining their interest and involvment. Then moving forward, work on Greenbelt training for a couple of the good ones?

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    #116158

    Juchniewicz
    Member

    I’m curious to hear more about that, I hadn’t seen anything like that training anywhere.
    Where can I look to find out more? (perhaps I’m not searching correctly?)

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    #116159

    McD
    Participant

    Not too big of a leap, actually.  I got my Six Sigma training working for one of your customers, and a couple of your products were in my portfolio.
    Sounds like you have a pretty decent plan, actually.  I like the idea of a phased approach.
    I’d like to offer you some counsel that is inappropriate here (no, I’m not going to try to sell you something!)  If you’re interested, email me at mcd at is-sixsigma.com
    –McD
     

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    #116170

    Mikel
    Member

    Terri,
    Sorry that most did not anwer your question.
    The answer is simple – yes there are courses tailored for Sales.
    Several do them in California. There is a major push on in commercial real estate right now.

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    #116477

    Obiwan
    Participant

    Terri
    I have lived this.  If you want more information, contact me at dfloyd1009 at bellsouth dot net.

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    #116500

    Jamie
    Participant

    Terri,
    Our company offers a Six Sigma for Sales training which seems like it addresses the types of points you’re getting to.  It gives an overview of the methodology so that people understand the language.  Then there is a strong focus on the Define phase — mostly VOC and FFU (we have our own Customer Fitness For Use Linkage Model which comes from HOQ/QFD).  We present the tools that can be used that many have mentioned like SPIN, Kano Model, etc.  The Measure phase tools are also taught on a basic level so that they can understand how and where to search and dig for the right kinds of data.  After that, the remaining phases are summed up and they’re instructed to go to their kind GB/BB/MBB for support in any project that might arise.
    I hope this helps some.
    Jamie

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