Salesforce launched its Lightning platform in 2015. Tucked away inside the Lightning platform is a tool called the Kanban, which visualizes the sales opportunity pipeline. To some people, it’s another CRM toy, of passing interest. But to others, it represents a whole way of thinking that has transformed their business and helped them scale global sales teams.
“Kanban” visualizes the sales pipeline, but it’s only the tip-of-the-iceberg of a powerful system for managing and coaching a worldclass sales team. In fact, over 10,000 firms have implemented what we have been calling the Board™ system since 1979. And at last, the tools are catching up with the thinking, in the form of CRM Kanbans. Better tools make the whole system more accessible and relevant to frontline salespeople and their managers.
Salesforce Pipeline Kanban. Click to enlarge
If you’re a Salesforce user, you’re currently sitting on a tool that can be the basis of creating a highly engaged sales culture, where activity and deal creation are prioritized over all the other – unimportant – work that people tend to focus on.
1 The Board system introduces a common language for managing leads, opportunities and activity. The language becomes the basis of developing a buyer-focused mind-set, as well as the basis of reporting and review, better selling skills and a more productive selling routine.
2 The Board changes how salespeople think about their role. Traditionally, sellers focus on, or are asked to focus on their selling activities. If, for example, you’re producing proposals, that’s a measure of progress in many sales organizations. The Board system is not so much asking what the salesperson is doing, it’s asking how far has the buyer moved forward in terms terms of signing business. One of our clients literally asks his salespeople to place the position of the buyer on the Board.
3 Behind the Board is a specific, but small suite of reports that produce very accurate short and long term sales forecasts. If you’re frustrated with your endless CRM reports and dashboards, the Board system can help you clean it all up and introduce a reporting architecture that actually works.
4 Most internal weekly sales meetings amount to a series of arguments about whether a deal will close or not. When you introduce the Board system, you switch the focus to strategizing the forward movement of the prospect instead of arguing over whether or not the deal will close. This one adjustment alone, changes for the better how a sales team sees their role and how they go about managing their pipeline. Our own clients report that when they introduced the Board system through Salesforce for example, they enjoyed a much higher level of collaboration between the manager and the salesperson.
Solve the Marketing-Sales divide
If you’re looking for ways to help your Marketing people to better understand the actual needs of the sales operation, in terms of demand and lead generation, and introduce mutual accountability, then introduce the Board system. Increasingly, we involve Marketing in the implementation of the Board, including the CRM piece, the reporting, documentation and the socializing of the system. This works, because it creates the common language between sales and marketing.
Leverage the available technology
One of our clients manages a team of multi-cultural salespeople across 20 countries, some of whom speak only their local language. Being a full-time salesperson himself, it was difficult for him to find the time for a weekly meeting, not to mention coaching or mentoring sessions. So he introduced the Board system in Q2, 2016. Today, he runs the team, literally, from his cell phone. The reason he can do this is that the team now intuitively works with a common language through the Board, and focuses on delivering against only a couple of metrics. The point here is not about mobile technology. Once you create the common language platform, it becomes much easier to manage any size of team effectively.
A new way of looking at your business
The Board™ system shows each salesperson how much progress they have made to date, what’s on the horizon, and what they need to do to make their number and move each individual prospect forward. When you implement the system, you can see the health of the business into the future, literally, at-a glance. But you also know that the entire sales organization is now engaged in protecting the future of the business.
Note: If you are a salesforce.com user, in order to use the Kanban tool, you need to implement the Lightning platform first. Check with your Salesforce admin. If you are part of a large corporate or enterprise, ask your admin to commission the Lightning / Kanban for you, without the whole organization having access, and take it from there.