Your company has announced that it will launch a 6-Sigma program or perhaps it launched such a program a while ago. So what does this mean for Sales? How will it be different than the prior alphabet soup of process and quality improvement programs like QMS, SPC, TQM,…? Should you get involved in this and how should you participate?
Fundamentally, 6-Sigma says: Make the business processes effective and efficient by making them reliable, predictable, and focused on customer recognized value. This focus and emphasis ties into several recent topics you have seen in these columns and provides opportunities for you: Sales Culture and Value Proposition.
A good 6-Sigma program has three key distinguishing and emphasized characteristics, which build beyond the earlier quality programs:
- Foundation built on the Voice of the Customer (VoC)
- Targeted on Strategic Priorities, and
- Uses Quantified measures.
Sales Culture – How often has field input on product and service requirements been given less than strategic importance? 6-Sigma may be the opportunity to improve this. Each 6-Sigma project should improve the efficiency and effectiveness of meeting a critical customer need.
Value Proposition – By developing quantified measures for 6-Sigma which are driven by the Voice of the Customer, you stimulate the Value Proposition discussion and develop the underlying data to support your conversation with the client. This is hard work, but with incredible payback. An excellent way to build team work and Sales Culture into the overall organization is:
- getting the measures correct,
- focused on what you deliver that makes your customer successful (it adds benefit they are willing to pay for, because it brings value – rather than lowest cost), and
- get them widely used in the overall organization.
- As more 6-Sigma projects complete, the culture will become more embedded.
What can I do?
- Take an opportunity to represent customer perspective to projects (be the Voice of the Customer (VoC)
- Get creative – think about a measurement that can reflect customer satisfaction.
- How can you express customer value in a measure?
- Capture and quantify customer needs and prioritize by value delivered.
- Invite an insightful customer to participate in a 6-Sigma VoC session
Geoff Rhine is a Process Engineer, MBA, 6-Sigma Blackbelt with background across research, finance, manufacturing, and technology support. He helped to start-up the first Compact Disc factory in the US and has recently been organizing live networking events for LinkedIn members in the Philadelphia region. He enjoys hiking, sailing, and bicycling.