Is Your B2B Company Ready for Sales Process Excellence?

Lots of things can get in the way of sales process excellence, unfortunately. Identifying these challenges is the first step to making progress. This assessment will help.


Answering the questions below will help you identify the issues that might be preventing your organization from dealing with sales and marketing challenges. It will also give you an action plan for moving ahead.
This assessment is in beta test (being offered free outside our company for real-world exposure) for a limited time. Please complete the questions and provide your comments in the areas indicated. All information will held in strict confidence and not shared outside SPC. You will not receive any spam or unwanted email promotion because you completed this form.


For questions 1 - 3 select which single statement best characterizes your organization. For question four, please check all that apply.

What You Will Receive

On completing the form, you will receive a unique response based on the answers you provide.



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You have assessed the alignment of your functional leaders to be in the high range. This is a huge benefit. Since sales and marketing represents one of the most powerful and profitable things a B2B company can invest in, what are you waiting for? It is time to get started.
Of course, just because many of your leaders are aligned around this does not mean you have the knowledge, expertise, or capacity at hand. If you would like to discuss your organization's situation, get a "second opinion" and potentially some guidance, or are seeking to solve a specific gap on your team (such as management, statistical, sales, or other expertise) you may want to consider an initial consultation with SPC around the best ways of getting started, or expending our efforts. ( We would look forward to assisting you.
You have assessed the alignment of your functional leaders to be in the low range. A low score in the alignment of your functional leaders is a barrier to be overcome. You can start with improvements focused in a single department. By getting your own house in order, you can demonstrate the effectiveness of these methods. You may have heard stories of how leaders who have done this have gotten themselves promoted.
However the gains may end up being limited (especially in sales and marketing), because root causes can cross boundaries into other functions in the business. This is a similar functional challenge to what manufacturing and purchasing departments have struggled with for years: Optimizing purchase price often can result in quality problems that hurt yield in manufacturing, or at the customer site. A value-stream orientation, a process orientation, are the best ways to make this kind of problem visible to management so it can be solved. Like manufacturing functions, sales and marketing improvement often requires cooperating across functions, such as marketing and selling. (A parallel example is a marketing department that generates more "leads" for fewer dollars, yet salespeople experience those leads as a waste of time.)
At some point, multiple functional leaders in the business will need to be aligned around the importance of data-driven process approaches. One of the best things you can do in this environment is to demonstrate how lean process excellence works in traditional areas such as manufacturing operations.
You have assessed the alignment of your functional leaders to be in the medium range. Few organizations have perfect alignment when they initiate process improvement, so you are in good company. The issue here is to learn the orientations of the various executives in your business: What they perceive and what they think about the problems and the solutions is crucial information. Any plan for moving forward needs to take into account everyone's views, and when there are apparent contradictions or differences, these need to be carefully dealt with.
In fact, these differences provide some of the most powerful opportunities for demonstrating the power and the value of process excellence: A skilled practitioner can lead the executives through critical thinking exercises that can reveal new information and more productive ways of approaching long-standing challenges. A productive approach takes the focus away from conflicts between people, and puts it on the data and on the process.
Process excellence offers unique and powerful benefits to each executive function (sales, marketing, service, operations, etc.). If they have not been exposed thoroughly to process excellence, these executives often have misperceptions about what is involved at first. You can work to learn the concerns and causes of resistance for each individual, and then develop an approach that addresses the specific concerns and opportunities. This is one of the most valuable outcomes of the early phases of a guided discovery assessment (
You have assessed your organization's general process capability to be high. This means you likely have a store of knowledge and experience in your people, and that you can hopefully draw on them to support your efforts to improve sales and marketing processes. It also means you have success examples from non-manufacturing areas, which can be an important ingredient of success.
Although the specific examples of standard work in sales and marketing are often dramatically different than they are in other areas, the principles of using data and evidence are very similar. Once your lean process excellence department gains the requisite methods and project experiences, they can likely adapt their skills and knowledge to support sales and marketing improvements. This is good news for you and your business.
You have assessed your firm with a low score in general process excellence capability. If your firm is in a manufacturing or technical industry this is potentially a serious issue. It means you may not have many improvement success stories from within your organization to draw on to help others believe improvements of this kind are possible.
If you are not in a technical or manufacturing industry, or perhaps are a small firm, then you may have limitations in your organization's expertise for gathering, validating, and analyzing data. These can be limitations, and they will need to be addressed at some point. Low process capability may sometimes be mitigated if senior management is convinced of the value of investing in it, perhaps by hiring or purchasing the expertise from outside service providers.
The development of a process excellence department (whether focused around Lean, Six Sigma, TQM, etc.) is an asset to any company (if its talents are used effectively, of course). However, the relationship of the process excellence department to the functional departments is a major issue to consider. For example, it is less effective when the process excellence department is expected to impose improvements on functional departments (as often happens in Six Sigma oriented companies), than it is for functional departments to be expected to generate their own improvements, with assistance from the process excellence department (as is supposed to happen in companies oriented toward Lean or the Toyota Production System).
You assessed your firm's process excellence capability in the medium range, which means your organization has recognized the value of these kinds of approaches to some extent, and has progressed to some degree along the maturity path toward operational excellence. If you are in this range, sales and marketing is often quite a fruitful arena for improving customer value and reducing waste.
Even if your internal experts do not know what "standard work" looks like in sales and marketing, they may be able to add value to these kinds of projects by relating their experiences in other parts of the organization, and by extending their critical thinking skills into this challenging environment. Your organization likely has the basic foundation for beginning a sales and marketing lean process excellence initiative.
You have assessed your senior leadership's readiness for process excellence to be in the high range. This is one of the most important characteristics of companies who will benefit from process excellence and be able to sustain the gains.
The work will be challenging and difficult, but you will be rewarded well for your efforts. That's because sales and marketing is the "bow of the ship" in most companies: improvements here are leveraged throughout the rest of the business, whether it is ensuring you develop the right products, the right distribution channels, the right employees, or the right customers. There are far fewer false starts and wasted efforts when the organization is basically aligned around the meaning of value versus waste in the customer's eyes, the need for data, and the ability to analyze it.
Companies operating at this level are essentially world-class. However, this does not mean everyone involved is totally comfortable diving into sales and marketing improvement. If this is the case, a clear message from your senior leadership to set the direction and commitment of the organization may be a good idea.
You have assessed your senior leadership's readiness for process excellence to be in the low range. This means improvements possible to the business may likely be limited to "point solutions" whether they are in manufacturing or in sales. After all, senior leaders get paid to be right about this sort of thing, after all. Their decisions can be effective as long as the correct target or problem is diagnosed in the first place (by whatever means they may use).
This does not mean you should avoid improving your processes. Many companies can and do achieve success on a local basis through process excellence. However, it does mean that attempting to apply a general process improvement approach (across departments, business teams, or divisions) may be met with blank stares and even resistance, until and unless senior leadership can be educated to the value of these approaches. Basically, process excellence is a means of developing the critical thinking capability within individuals in the organization. For senior management it offers a method of enabling the company's managers to work together and to solve problems in more productive ways.
This kind of change cannot be accomplished very well without the conscious, explicit acknowledgement and support of someone in senior leadership.
You have assessed your senior leadership's readiness for process excellence to be in the medium range. Typically this means they accept the idea that a process approach has benefits, if only because their customers expect the business to have it.
This is the state of most companies. They appreciate the results of successful process improvement efforts, and hopefully everyone is learning from the experiences of gathering data, following the "Why? Why? Why?" trail, and validating that improvements have taken place. Ideally management is being guided to understand its own role and effect when it reviews and sponsors improvement projects.
This is especially important when improvement efforts transition to sales and marketing, because no other part of the business is so fraught with tribal knowledge, lack of data, and invisible value-add (not to mention invisible waste). Companies in this stage of development have the opportunity to make huge gains and some fairly dramatic sales and marketing successes, so long as senior management is involved and learning about process excellence in sales and marketing from the start. If this is the case, or if you just want to make sure you are getting off on the right foot, we would recommend an initial consultation with SPS (
Your organization's readiness for lean process excellence in sales and marketing is very high. You have the track record within your manufacturing production operations so that the ideas have credibility and you can draw on examples within your company culture to give these ideas credibility. Process excellence seems to be well positioned in your company leadership's mind, and sales and marketing departments seem to be receptive.
With this kind of momentum, improvements in sales and marketing can leverage profitability and competitive advantage throughout the entire organization. So, what are you waiting for? Its time to get started!
Your organization's readiness for lean process excellence in sales and marketing is low. You should continue your interest in learning about this important subject, apply what you can to help solve problems around you, and try recruit like-minded individuals to the ideas. However, it is important to be honest with yourself and about the leadership in your organization. If your company's leadership has low scores in this assessment, you may need to find a way to make peace with this reality. However, if process thinking is important to you, you may be better off looking for a company that is more enlightened and receptive.
On the other hand, if you are one of the leaders of such an organization, and you would like to improve it, all is definitely not lost. However, you need to recognize the amount of work ahead of you is definitely not trivial.
Your organization's readiness for process excellence in sales and marketing is in the middle range. This is typical for many organizations. It actually means that you may be able to make dramatic improvements quickly as learning about these ways to solve problems and identify customer value spread throughout the organization.
However, you are likely to struggle as you attempt to improve. Many pitfalls and counter intuitive discoveries await you. For example, an early thing leaders discover is that it is crucial that to go slow at first, not fast. The biggest mistake people make is in thinking they jump to conclusions before they have thoroughly diagnosed their situation. Making this mistake can ruin your credibility and be expensive to boot. It is especially important to take the time (and get the support you need) to make sure your initial forays into sales process excellence are sure footed and successful.
You have assessed your sales and marketing organization's readiness for process excellence to be in the high range. This is an extremely valuable asset. It means your team is energized and engaged and improvement is likely to proceed quickly.
Sales management training and measurement systems can have very high payback in this environment. That's because you have the cooperation to gather truly valuable quality and quantity data about the flow of deals. You can make this once invisible area visible, and prioritize the whole company's resources using objective data and evidence, ensuring everyone is spending time on the right accounts instead of the wrong ones, for example.
When objective data about markets and customers is processed effectively by the sales, marketing, and service operations of a business, and that business has a valuable offer it is capable of delivering, profitable revenue and market share growth is quite a likely outcome.
You have assessed your sales and marketing organization's readiness for process excellence to be low. The first priority is to examine why you believe this is true. We have commonly talked with senior executives who feared the resistance of their sales teams. Yet when we spoke with those same salespeople, they were actually looking forward to the initiative! On the other hand, if the resistance is real, it is an important issue to address before beginning an improvement initiative. What are the reasons for this situation? For instance, there may be misalignments in compensation, job descriptions, or performance evaluations that need to be addressed.
Processes are about helping people think independently, so any policies or reward mechanisms that are misaligned with the overall goals of value to the customer and the company may need to be rethought. This does not necessarily mean you should avoid improving your processes. It does mean you must learn the sources of the resistance and find methods to mitigate or work around it before beginning.
You have assessed your sales and marketing organization's readiness for process excellence to be in the medium range. This is typical of many sales organizations, and so long as the process work you do is driven from the sales perspective, so long as it is consistently tied to their "what's in it for me" (WIIFM), you should be able to achieve significant improvements, and the business growth and cash flow that go along with it. However, there are many issues to deal with as process maturity improves, here are two:
One key issue is in making it socially acceptable to report data that is undesirable. Salespeople (in particular) have typically grown up in environments where any information they provide can and will be used against them. Some salespeople believe and behave as if their job is to tell others what they want to hear. This mindset needs to be changed if you are to be able to deal honestly with the issues that are impeding improvement.
A second key issue is something that is often felt by sales organizations: They cannot do this alone. Sometimes (often, actually) improvement involves other departments besides just the sales department. This can be a real sticking point until the sales department sees the company respond to the data they bring in and actually solve a common, high-impact problem. For example, one sales organization that had been struggling for years with the administrative hassle of generating sales proposals watched in amazement when an improvement project nailed that problem. Lead time on proposals went from weeks to one day. Proposals contained information and value propositions unique to specific customers. Administrative hassles, mistakes, and inconsistencies across geographic regions were eliminated. We have seen support for process improvement initiatives gush from salespeople once something like that generates credibility for the organization.

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