Bowery Capital just updated their Ultimate Guide to Sales Tools. This useful guide divides the tools into stages of the sales cycle: pre-sales, sales, and post-sales. In all, they categorize and describe 105 tools. An impressive compilation.
Since Bowery categorized the tools by stages in the sales cycle, it made me wonder how the tools map to the sales process that a company might use.
The analogy might be to a bicycle factory. The factory uses a variety of tools to make the bicycle. The tools are arranged by stages in the manufacturing cycle: pre-assembly, assembly, and post-assembly.
- Pre-assembly includes all the work to prepare parts to be assembled – receiving, sorting, buffing, cleaning.
- Assembly includes all the tools to assemble an entire bicycle.
- Post-assembly includes all the activities to prepare a bicycle for shipping – cleaning, lubricating, inspection, testing, and packing.
Just because you have all the tools on the floor does not mean that you are ready to start working.
First you need some definitions. If you receive a batch of rear derailleurs, what are the criteria you must meet before you can pass them on to Assembly? At what levels should the tension adjusters and limit stops be set?
You’ll need these types of definitions for each part you process in Pre-Assembly.
Similarly, for each bicycle model you assemble, you need to define the parts you will use and the settings you will make. You need a definition of the characteristics of a completed bicycle.
And then, finally, you’ll want to define the characteristics of a package that is ready to ship, the final tests that the bicycle must pass, the packaging you will use, and the location where you will store it.
Once you have the definitions established, then the managers at the bicycle factory can work with the staff to establish standard work practices for each stage in the assembly. This can include the practices to work with parts and assembly, but it can also include practices for activities like machine maintenance.
Now the factory has all the pieces in place to make high-quality bicycles for its customers—definitions, standard practices, and the tools.
Of course process excellence is never a destination, so the people who work to make high-quality bicycles will always be looking for ways to improve. They will devise the measurements they need for each definition. When measurements are outside of the specification, they will know right away and can develop ways to find the root cause of the problem and devise solutions.
A company that has all the right sales tools is in a similar position to the bicycle company. It has the tools, but that alone does not tell you what interim goals sales people should strive for, how they will do their work, nor how they will measure success.
Like the bicycle factory, tools are an important component of sales process excellence. Other components include clear definitions, standard work practices, and measurements of success.