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KAIZEN in Sales

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In any business/organization SALES is the department that generates revenue apart from royalties, payouts from insurance policies, dividend and interest income from financial assets it owns, rental income & capital gains from the sale of owned properties. Many organizations under-invest in their sales effort, treating sales like an afterthought. Sales department is handled after the managers solve all the manufacturing, distribution and financing issues. The best sales forces are professional, well-compensated, supported with a strong sales effort and empowered to act, with support, money and time.

Perhaps you all must have noticed that sales success is getting harder to come by in the era of globalization. The competition is tougher than ever, and the pace is much faster. Customers have become aware and smarter than ever. Many organizations are struggling with the hidden secret of success which is Lead Generation. There are many reasons for this for eg; sales team doesn’t know how to generate leads, organization do not support the sales team, lack of training, non-standard work, etc. What is the need of an hour? The need is to have a systematic approach to find the right kinds of qualified opportunities/prospects. It is time to change, to replace traditional methodologies, to innovate and to spark. Time to analyse the mistakes and processes. Yet, for a variety of reasons, most organizations do not have one.

Traditional/transactional way of selling


Time has come to remove non value adding activities from the processes and add value to the customer’s needs/wants by selling in the right way and selling right solutions.

KAIZEN can help organization/sales department to identify the problems, address root causes and propose solutions.


KAIZEN is a Japanese term that means continuous improvement. “Kai” means change and “Zen” means good or for the better. It is a holistic approach for continuous improvement, requiring initial vision of current state and customer requirements specific to the business. 

Commons Issues: 

  1. Paperwork too complex, no time for discussions with customers
  2. Sales team had their own style, non-standard
  3. No sharing of lessons learned
  4. No progress to sales reports after meetings, etc.

True sales organizations are passionate about proactively helping their customers. Sales people are in the job, because they see opportunities. Opportunities for helping the customers fulfill their dream/needs/wants, and opportunities for closing the deal. An effective sales team/sales person will always try to get rid of inefficient procedures that can take up time. He/She will always want to spend maximum time with current as well as prospective customers. The focus should be to dedicate most time on improving personal sales impacts on matters like:

– How do I approach a new customer in an even better way?
– How do I close the deal, when the customer can’t make up his mind?
– Which questions are better ones in which situations?
– How do I unfold the customers’ dreams in an even better way?
– How can I improve my ability to ask questions instead of presenting product details?
– How can I better structure the questions I ask in the meeting, to reach more in less time?

What is required? 

  1. Remove wastes from daily work in sales and administration
  2. Remove waste from back office work and create capacity to support sales
  3. Remove waste from sales activity and increase capacity to focus on selling
  4. Review and strengthen the sales process, identify the company’s key selling points and strengths
  5. Make the sales process visible and easy to manage
  6. Presentation of results, reflection on the process and learning

Some meetings can be dedicated to improvements of back office processes, to celebrate achievements (both on the results achieved and the activities that led to the results). KAIZEN/Lean for true sales department has to be fun & emotionally engaging. Organization/Leaders should take out some time to reflect upon the sales force in the company. They should check whether the sales team is passionate about selling. Are they passionate about helping customers fulfil their dream/goal


Consultative selling is a complex, long-term process involving collaboration of both buyer and seller, in which the latter must first develop an understanding of the customer’s business, industry, and needs/wants, and then craft a solution to help the customer achieve their objectives. 

  • Build high trust and a high respect relationship with the prospect
  • Have sufficient dialogue with the prospect to understand their business environment, critical business drivers, and high priority initiatives
  • Validate the customer-specific value proposition – not to make an offer that does not fit

Consultative way of selling




Most of the organization/leaders are continuously working to improve the effectiveness of their sales people. KAIZEN/Lean helps the sales team to get involved in Value Selling, Key Account Management and Voice of the Customer initiatives, all focused on driving improvements and staying ahead of the competition.

KAIZEN/Lean enables organizations to collect, use & analyze data and focus on those steps in the sales processes that makes the difference between winning and losing a sale.  Our experience indicate that superior sales people do execute the same set of activities on most sales, using consistent, observable (and therefore transferable) behaviours. KAIZEN/Lean, can, therefore be applied to identify those key behaviours & activities and, link them to measurable outcomes and systematically imbed them in a standardized sales process. Once the critical steps have been identified, observable  or measurable behaviour that represents best in class execution of that step can be identified by interviewing and observing high performing reps.


So how do we introduce KAIZEN/Lean in Sales? 

Here are some questions to get you started:  

  1. What is value in Sales? (Who are our internal & external customers and what do they need from us?)
  2. What is waste?
  3. What are some core mental models in our Sales department?
  4. What are our current processes for delivering this value?
  5. How aligned are they to delivering the value our customers expect?
  6. How do we improve them?
  7. How do we Define and Accept our customers requirement?
  8. How do we prove that our product/service will fulfill the customers requirement?

Author: Kaizen Institute - India!

Kaizen Institute – India is part of the Global Kaizen Institute operations. Kaizen Institute was established by Sensei Masaaki Imai, the GURU of Kaizen. He wrote the 1st book 28 yrs ago and that is when it all started . We operate in 30+ countries today and have over 400+ coaches helping more then 600 organizations Learn, Apply, Sustain – Kaizen/ Operational Excellence. In India we have two physical offices – Pune & Ahmedabad and 27 coaches in all.

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