In my four years in a professional sales career, I’ve learned so many things about life, business, and technology that my degree in Industrial Engineering could never teach. That’s not to say studying Industrial Engineering was a waste of time. I’m both proud of my degree, and continuously find ways to apply IE to many different facets of my career in sales.
Industrial Engineering is commonly referred to as the “link” between engineering professions. IE’s specialize in optimizing complex processes, systems, and tasks through statistical analysis, design, planning and quality engineering. Lean Engineering is a core IE building block, made famous through the “Toyota Production System” manufacturing methodology. “Lean” is a systematic method for waste (“Muda”) reduction, without minimizing productivity.
Lean can sound taboo to a sales professional. How can one “optimize” a job as complex in nature as navigating an enterprise sales cycle? Not only is it possible, Lean principles tend to make common sense to many aspects of the job. there will be a part 2 (and possibly part 3) of this blog-series on Lean Engineering in sales where I’ll address different use cases and examples.
At some point in a sales professional’s career, you’re bound to be asked to explain your sales process. The truth is, most sales professionals don’t take the time to truly understand their own processes, going through these motions subconsciously in a given week, month, quarter, half. Just the simple task of writing down your process will lead to a huge gain in productivity and clarity on a daily basis. But Lean is all about eliminating waste – which we do by identifying value. As an Industrial Engineer, I continuously study my own sales process, taking time to reflect on each win and loss and the steps along the way. Each client opportunity is a little different, but our goals remain the same: Maximizing client value while streamlining our own sales cycles. During every step in your sales cycle, you should be asking yourself, “Is what I am doing adding value to the client and their decision-making process?”. If the answer is No, eliminate the sales “Muda”.
Stay tuned for the next part in this blog-series connecting Lean Engineering to Professional Selling!
Lean Engineering & Sales Collide: Part 1, written by Jonathan Samuelson