I’ve been reading about the big process improvement movements (lean and green) and how they’ve been applied to the sales process.

These are process improvement strategies focused on reducing waste, improving efficiencies, and controlling the environmental impact.  From the standpoint of a sales process, people primarily discuss removing extraneous steps in the process, reducing administrative work by the sales force in favor of more customer-facing time, and otherwise streamlining the existing process to make it better and cheaper.  Here’s a good “lean” article, by way of example.

While I think these are admirable goals, they look at a sales process through a very narrow lens of “what does the sales force do; how do they spend their time” rather than through a whale-hunting lens of “how does the village hunt whales.”

A prime example is choosing “manage leads” as the first step in the process.  The discussion usually goes–improve the lead-management system with a CRM, conduct better research on the leads so that no one goes after bad ones, simplify the process by which sales representatives document what they are doing with the leads, and change the methods of lead-generation to save time and money.

All of those changes will be beneficial and will improve an existing sales process.  But Whale Hunting is not about generating leads in an extended marketplace.  Rather it is about the company determining the characteristics of what would be an ideal customer for its products/services or for a particular product/service line.  Your company decides who it wants to “target” as a prospect, for reasons that make sense, and then sets out to research those companies and make contact with critical buyers at those companies.  By “company” I mean to include not only large companies but also  government agencies, venture capital firms, R&D grantmakers, nonprofit organizations–any of the whale-sized entities who might buy from YOU.

By all means create a “lean” process to manage all of the data you will gather.  But at the heart of it, have a “Target Filter” that will focus attention on the most likely large customers that you can attract, and then hunt only the ones with which you have a high probability of building a successful relationship and multiple sales.  You will save money because you are eliminating useless and wasteful follow-up on leads that come in willy-nilly.  Rather, you are becoming increasingly focused on bigger deals, better deals, with a much higher probability of success.

I invite you to download a free copy of our Target Filter tool and try it out with your team.  You will find a variety of sales and business development tools on the same page.