Standardize & Personalize
David Skinner

There is an award given in Japan each year since 1950 focused upon quality improvement. Think of it as their version of the Heisman Trophy for business and engineering. It's called the Deming Prize. So named after the man singularly most responsible for lifting Japan out of the WWII's aftermath to one of the world's greatest industrial powers. His name, W. Edwards Deming.

Assigned by Gen. Douglas MacArthur to help with the Japanese census, his gifts and knowledge for statistical measurement and passion for improvement led him to consult with some of that country's leading industrialists.  His message was, "Focus on constant quality improvement and you will drive down costs and raise the pride, passion and production throughout your company".

They listened, they applied it and it worked! Japan rose from virtual ruin to a world leading producer of quality cars and innovative electronics. Ironically back in the USA, Ford Motor Company, mired in losses of $3 billion between 1979 and 1982 discovered the secret to Japan's success and they recruited W. Edwards Deming to perform his same magic in America. And he did! Ford went from wrenching financial losses to become the most profitable US automotive company in just four years. For the first time in modern history, they surpassed General Motors (GM), they never looked back and as we all know to this day . . . never accepted a bail out!

Enter You -- Stage Left

W. Edwards Deming is most well known and respected as the father of TQM, Total Quality Management, that "no improvement in 'process' is possible until there is a 'standardization' of methodology". And of course here is where you and your sales success comes in!

Out of that industrial movement most recently has come the systematic application of his principles of "Profound Knowledge" now applied to sales processes and to quality improvement around the world. This new school of thinking is called  Sales Process Engineering and in the next few paragraphs I'm going to present to you the entry level version - Standardize & Personalize 101. All I ask is for you to temporarily suspend disbelief and put on Deming's TQM Thinking Hat. That's all!

The Sales Process is Work

  • All work is a process.
  • All processes exhibit variations.
  • All variations can be measured.

Deming emphasized the importance of standardizing and measuring every "Input, Process and Result". He said, "You can expect what you inspect". This constant measurement is done by means of a Feed Back Loop.

Without Standardization There Can Be No Permanent Improvement

Deming pretty much cracks the walnut open here. So long as your sales presentation is 'random', without planning, measurement, analysis or adjustment, you are doomed to sail unknown waters rather than sell with improving results.

THIS IS KEY: Standardize your process, measure your results and adjust your inputs -- Rinse and Repeat! This is the number one most common error of sales people and management alike. And who can afford it? A simple feedback loop can create a 'goal seeking' procedure that will sky rocket you to success!   

Let's Not Forget the Customer

Okay, you can reengage your belief systems now. Everything IS about the customer. The customer wants to feel special, feel loved and be personalized. But they don't want an unprofessional sales person who doesn't know how to move them from interested to satisfied anywhere near them! And that's why you need to Standardize your process so that you can Personalize the product's benefits to fit the Customer's needs. Standardize YET still Personalize!

You took this job thinking you would help others attain their needs and objectives, but you didn't understand first and foremost that you needed to continually hone your skills. Sales is not a Starbucks Latte. And . . .

  • All work is a process  - including sales.
  • All processes exhibit variations - including sales.
  • All variations can be measured - including sales.

"You can expect what you inspect - including sales!"


Learn More About W. Edwards Deming

You will find a plethora of information available about this wise and gentle giant available on the internet, even some inspiring live discussions taped by NBC back in the 1980s. I urge you to study more about his Profound Knowledge philosophy and apply it to your own sales, to your management team, your business, even to your life. If he can lift a country up by its boot straps, he can surely improve your results too!