Just-in-time is the well-known methodology aimed at reducing flow times in manufacturing in industries such as vehicle production. In simple terms, thanks to streamlined processes and flexible systems, the parts arrived, ‘just-in-time,’ saving costs. In the 1990’s ‘just-in-time’ fell out of favor to ‘lean manufacturing,’ described on Wikipedia as ‘a systematic method for waste minimization’
In sales proposals, discussions and negotiations, it is also necessary to be ‘lean’ and ‘just-in-time’ in how we communicate with prospects and customers. It means being fluid and responsive, and appropriate regarding the type of content we provide and when.
The opposite of that is to just ‘go through the motions’ and be seen to be making the phone calls, the visits, the proposals. Most of the KPI’s may look good, but very often the result, closed business, the ultimate KPI, is less impressive. If you regularly find that despite your pipelines looking great regarding the number of prospects and expected sales revenues, yet after months of work most of those leads do not convert into business, then something is going wrong. Your sales pipeline has gone rusty. It needs oiling.
In sales, we can’t just ‘go through the motions.’ Our sales pipeline can’t be allowed to get rusty. Rust prevents movement, and in sales, we need to keep moving and fine-tuning the sales pipeline.
What that doesn’t mean is dropping out seemingly good opportunities without good reason just because they haven’t been closed down is a set period. The task is to find ways of gently nudging the sale forward. We can do this better by understanding at any one time, where our potential customer is in the buying process. The better the communication we can have with our customers and prospects, the easier it is to know the answers to these questions.
If we can get this right, we can feed individual customers the information which they need not only for themselves to come to a decision, but also, so they can circulate specific details to other decision makers influencers and users who also have important roles.
There are many different ways of communicating with customers, and part of being successful is understanding what types and formats of messages which will be appreciated most. For example, some people prefer a telephone call, others a one-page brief, others a powerpoint presentation, others a video. We need to make the right choices. Buyers are busy people and so often shorter communications which answer specific questions, worries or concerns are going to work better than huge proposals, especially those grabbed and copied and pasted from previous efforts.
The good news is that there have never been more opportunities to communicate with customers, not just through phone, email and social media, but a variety of messaging and video apps, which depending on the choice can enable a more responsive and or personal response.
To explore how your business can improve your sales pipeline flow contact me for a free initial discussion.