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PlasticsToday’s Management Blog: Apply TQM to your sales

  When quality processes are missing, an awful lot can go wrong in your sales department. On the flipside, though, it's amazing how much can be accomplished when total quality management (TQM) finally reaches the sales department. Bringing total quality to sales applies the principles and techniques of TQM to sales processes. It brings TQM to the realities of daily operations.

When quality processes are missing, an awful lot can go wrong in your sales department. On the flipside, though, it's amazing how much can be accomplished when total quality management (TQM) finally reaches the sales department. Bringing total quality to sales applies the principles and techniques of TQM to sales processes. It brings TQM to the realities of daily operations.

My recommendation is to combine the sales function responsibilities with the quality function responsibilities, with the title of the employee responsible "Director of Quality Sales & Manufacturing." This dynamic leader will advance the company's full service, high performance, and precision processing operation.

This is a high level position that commands leadership. Filling the position should be a leader who can lead a talented, well-established workforce to support business goals and quality expectations for close tolerance custom plastic parts. This position of leadership reports directly to the company president and maintains accountability for financial performance, customer satisfaction through defined quality systems, and directs advanced product quality techniques for the employees.     

Many in sales do not understand fully the effects of errors in their communications to others. An assessment of several field sales offices verified that most frequent cause of rework is order entry. Here's a list of a salesperson's rework:

Order Entry..................................     24%                 

Late Shipments............................    19%

End-user Complaints...................     17%

Proposal Errors............................    15%

Reschedule Internal.....................    8%

Change Order End User...............   7%

Change Order Internal..................   5%

Reschedule End User...................   5%    

The result is that salespeople find it extremely difficult to view the business as a unified whole in any but the most cursory ways. They either enter orders quickly to receive booking credits as quickly as possible, or procrastinate entering orders until the time is right or available. In either case, salespeople will overlook errors and omissions in the order, thinking they can be corrected or added later with change notices.

Perhaps their haste and carelessness are justified. Salespeople typically enter orders through a faceless name or onto an even more impersonal computer, and then have only the foggiest notion of the process after that. So it is not surprising that they tend to not understand fully the effects of errors in their communications to others.

Yet these errors can significantly erode profitability and customer satisfaction. Fixing the errors changes the process and initiates a chain of wasted money and effort that can consume up to 30% of a function operating budget and staff hours, reducing profits and productivity accordingly. Total quality management starts and ends with end users as well as internal customers, and is driven by their real and actual needs and wants which are - or should be - communicated throughout the organization by the salespeople.

Total quality management is a continuous, circular process that always begins and ends with end users who communicate with salespeople. The performance of salespeople, sales offices, and, to some extent, the entire sales function is typically measured by customer satisfaction and making a profit.

About the author: Lewis Yasenchak works as a consultant with small-to-mid sized processors, moldmakers and other precision manufacturers to help them "implement quality at the source" rather than catch mistakes once made, and also to minimize waste by meeting and exceeding ISO Quality Management Systems. He invites you to contact him to help demonstrate the impact quality can have on your operations. Contact him at T: 706-694-2977 or [email protected].

TAGS: Business
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