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    How to Use Kanban to Win More Deals

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    When I set out to develop Membrain, I knew the sales profession deserved a better CRM platform. I did not realize that much of what we would develop over the next ten years would echo the work of leading thinkers responsible for major shifts and improvements in manufacturing over the past hundred years.

    When I started studying Lean, Six Sigma, Kanban, and other manufacturing methods for continuous improvement, I began to see the parallels to what we were doing at Membrain. And then we made those parallels explicit and drew on learnings from manufacturing to drive our own continuous improvement.

    With or without Membrain, you can use Kanban to continuously improve your sales workflows – and win more deals.

    What is Kanban?

    “The Kanban Method follows a set of principles and practices for managing and improving the flow of work,” according to Nimblework. The Kanban framework can be applied to any “business process [to] improve flow, reduce cycle times, and increase value to the customer, with greater predictability.”

    Kanban operates on 6 core practices:

    1. Visualize the flow of work
    2. Limit Work in Progress
    3. Manage flow
    4. Make process policies explicit
    5. Implement feedback loops
    6. Improve collaboratively, evolve experimentally

    One thing that stands out for me with Kanban, and that we’ve applied with Membrain, is that it is about managing the work, not the people. It assumes that your people are aligned and want to do good work. In a healthy company culture with good people management practices, this is a safe assumption.

    Kanban is about managing the work, not the people.

    Then, Kanban can be used to manage the work itself and ensure it is done in an effective and timely manner, without the need to control or micromanage the individuals within the team.

    How to Use Kanban In Sales

    From Nimblework’s definition, it is clear to see how Kanban can help a complex B2B sales team be more effective:

    To apply the six principles, you must be able to:

    1. Visualize your sales process as a workflow
      Membrain was built to do this. It enables you to easily build a milestone-based process directly into the workflow your salespeople work in every day. They follow the process and every aspect can be visualized with a few clicks, by both the salespeople and their leaders.
    2. Limit work in progress
      For sales, this means segmentning your audience well and qualifying your prospects better so you spend more time with higher quality opportunities, and less time wasted. Membrain enables you to build effective qualifying processes into the workflow, so salespeople can easily execute on your best practices and eliminate low quality candidates early.
    3. Manage the flow of work
      Membrain’s three-part workflow system allows you to easily see where every prospect is in the sales process, as well as how your salespeople are proceeding through the process. You don’t have to call salespeople onto the carpet to find out what they’re up to: Their work is visible, and easy to coach and manage.
    4. Make process policies explicit
      In sales, process is often a very ambiguous thing. Salespeople think they understand the process, but rarely follow it. And leaders think they’ve been explicit about the process, yet everyone has different ideas about it. With Membrain, a clear process can be defined and embedded into the platform, and salespeople held accountable to it.
    5. Implement feedback loops
      In sales, this includes win/loss analysis, as well as tracking individual performance on sales process, sales skills, and conversational approach. Membrain enables you to see where each salesperson needs improvement, as well as where the process slows down across the board. It also allows you to make quick adjustments to the process to accommodate and continuously improve.
    6. Improve collaboratively, evolve experimentally
      Membrain enables your team to share best practices, learn from each other, and to try new things within the framework of collaboration and process, then to adjust based on feedback.

    We always wanted Membrain to be a tool that can be used to manage the work itself, rather than relying on motivation or inspiration or superstar salespeople to carry the day. It allows you to focus on desired outcomes and the steps to achieve those outcomes, without the “noise” created by micro-managing people.

    In a traditional CRM, you manage people and hope they get the work done. In Membrain, you manage the work flow, and the people get the work done.

    Although we didn’t set out originally to build a Kanban platform, I’m proud to say that Membrain is the best tool on the market for implementing Kanban principles within your sales organization. See how Membrain can help you win more deals by making HOW you sell WHY you win.

    George Brontén
    Published May 31, 2023
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn