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Quality Vs. Sales

Discussion in 'Coffee Break and Community Discussion Forum' started by Nikki, Oct 12, 2015.

  1. Nikki

    Nikki Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering what kind of experiences you all have had, if at all, with your Sales department.

    I understand they are trying to please the customer, but I have been getting major push back from them lately.

    To the point where they have straight up asked me to NOT follow our normal process.

    They shoot out reasons / exceptions as why I don't NEED to follow our process.

    Anyone out there have a witty, yet polite way of telling them I would rather not stray from my process?

    :p;):)
     
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  2. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    From a sales person? I can tell you this (with both my 25+ years of QMS and 10+ years with a "sales" title)...

    However good you think your process is, it doesn't deliver what the customer wants and expects. Daily, I deal with clients who what this, that and something else and being told "Well, our process says..." is of little to no consideration. I'm confident is tell you that, despite your best efforts, your process DON'T deliver to their needs, let alone expectations - and what does your quality policy commit to? :eek::rolleyes:
     
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  3. Sidney Vianna

    Sidney Vianna Well-Known Member

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    The key thing is to ascertain if the process deviation/shortcut will affect product conformity assurance or not. There is nothing wrong in speeding up the process as long as the necessary checks and balances will be performed. However, if the process deviation will create unreasonable risks to product integrity, RBT tells us NOT to deviate.

    Sometimes inward-looking processes fail to account for customers expectations and should be designed flexible enough to be sped up, when necessary. But, as many of us know, sometimes, the sales function want to shortcut processes in order to "please" the external customer, failing to take into account other risks to the operation and product assurance.
     
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  4. JCIC49

    JCIC49 Member

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    As has been said does what they want affect product conformity, safety etc, if not consider changing.

    Dealing with the sales people can be a challenge for QA as they do quite regularly have a different view. The sales people won't change, so we need to understand what there issues are, I would even suggest seeing if you can spend time with them so you get a better understanding of what issues they have and why a process improvement can help. If they see you working with them and you explain and show them your issues you will find the relationship actually becomes very beneficial to both parties. I have even had sales people phoning up for help.
     
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  5. Nikki

    Nikki Well-Known Member

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    The situation specifically here is that the customer is asking us to sign off on a material specification for something we don't even produce.

    Therefore, I can not promise them that the material is going to meet that spec.

    Sales is stating that because the material is discontinued, and the customer only has a few hundred pounds left, that my reason for not signing the spec is moot.

    I don't want to risk being responsible for material that I have no control over.
     
  6. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    What's the customer really asking? Did anyone actually ask? Sadly, some sales folks aren't good listeners and they hear something from a customer, but not the underlying message. It could be, for example, if you simply asked a lab to do some tests to validate the materials would be sufficient.
     
  7. Eric Twiname

    Eric Twiname Well-Known Member

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    At least in my industry...that isn't "Quality", it is acceptance of liability.

    In the system we use, the "process" for sales is very wide open. There is no way we are going to predict all of the situations a salesperson might face at a customer...we don't even bother trying.
    Building in a lot of freedom to the process (essentially trapping the critical items "needs" and not wasting people's time on the "wants") frees up the sales process tremendously.

    Accepting liability for someone else's material is a bit different, but I'll bet there is another way.
    Simply getting an email from the customer that you have not tested the material and do not certify that the material meets the spec is plenty.

    If the material is discontinued, the whole concept of a spec is moot...what is the point of signing off on one? It becomes an as-is sale.
     
  8. Sidney Vianna

    Sidney Vianna Well-Known Member

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    That's a clear failure of the sales process for taking in an order for an "unknown spec" and that's why they are putting pressure on someone else to put their signature and name on the line to certify delivery of a batch to an "unknown spec".

    The (so-called) "contract review" process should prevent these kinds of orders which could lead to potential product conformity challenges. From a system perspective, it seems that the situation, as you described, fails to comply with ISO 9001. As usual, sales is happy for making the sale, but just created a potential product integrity failure, customer dissatisfaction and, as already mentioned, liability.

    If top management promotes this risky behavior in sales, they are undermining the quality system, in my opinion.
     
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  9. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    With all due respect to sales: They are suppose to be our Customer Representative who can deliver to the organization the Customer Specific Requirements. The organization's process may NEVER be good enough for the customer but we can look at score cards and strive to met their requirements. That is what the Rule#4 is emphasizing to the subscribers of TS.
     
  10. hogheavenfarm

    hogheavenfarm Well-Known Member

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    Probably because it is incentived. People do what gets measured. If commission is based on sales, sales are all that matters, regardless of how they are made. This creates departments working against each other. If they were paid on the basis of renewed subscriptions/ mbtf/ or some measure that relates to the quality of the product/service then actions would change. Sales people over promise to get the sale. Why? because the sale is what counts, it is what is being measured, (look at sales quotas, goals etc). Measure something else - change behavior.
     
  11. Eric Twiname

    Eric Twiname Well-Known Member

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    Sales is the engine.

    Governing the engine reduces the top speed.
    Controlling emissions limits the top power.
    Loading the car with baggage, and running the stereo and DVD players reduces the efficiency.

    We want our business to be fast and powerful.
    Think first of how well you can steer before figuring out what limits you want to put on the engine...
    There are always limits that have to be on the engine...but it should not be the first consideration.
    The first consideration is how to use as much of the engine's power as you can for beneficial ends...(NPAT).

    If sales made a sale you aren't comfortable with...what is the fastest, least intrusive way to be comfortable and keep the sale?
    (In other words, how should you steer?)

    JMO
     
  12. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Maybe, but sales commission is paid when the job is BILLED not WON. I'm amazed how much bias is exhibited towards sales as a function, by people in "quality" who are supposed to have a good understanding of all functions and processes in an organization. Let's not overlook, too, SOMEONE in YOUR organization recruited them...

    Eric is correct. May I request that those who seem to have a bitter taste about "sales" go and work with them and see the stuff they deal with? When their bread and butter depends upon it?
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2015
  13. Sidney Vianna

    Sidney Vianna Well-Known Member

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    It is not a matter of comfort levels. It is a matter of managing expectations. If an organization accepts an order which has not verified BEFOREHAND it is capable of delivering, many possible outcomes are possible, including a very costly legal case in court, with perennial loss of reputation. That's why the ISO 9001 standard requires review of the product and order BEFORE the job is accepted. Once you accept an order you DON'T KNOW if you can deliver, you are doing very poor RBT.

    Selling without careful review of custom spec'd products is not sustainable sales. Sustainable (and profitable) sales is what drives prosperity. Sales (at any cost) is a highly unmitigated risk which has proven, time after time to be the demise of many organizations.
     
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  14. BradM

    BradM Moderator Staff Member

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    So your organization makes widgets. You have a process for making them. This process yields high quality/ low cost/ etc.

    You have individuals in sales asking you to not follow that process to make the same widgets. Is that accurate?

    Why is that? Does your current process take too long? Is anyone in the sales force offering process improvements? Could there be merit in their requests?
     
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  15. IcyMountain

    IcyMountain Member

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    The flip side of RBT is that it allows a company to take a calculated risk, stretch and fail without their CB hanging a major NC on them. I know this may be shocking to some of my auditor friends but some of my companies biggest successes were built on incredible failures to comply with the customer's specification. Our first TS subscribing customer was an unmitigated disaster, despite our best efforts. How do you do immediate root cause corrective action that requires a design change when the customer will not approve any design changes in less than six months? The biggest thing we learned was to avoid customers that require unwavering compliance to every sentence of the Seven Pack, applicable or not, reasonable or not.

    At a previous company, the executive staff budgeted for a certain percentage of noncollectable sales every year. The CEO would be livid if the majority of that budget were not used because that meant we were not stretching far enough or hard enough. We made stand-alone products but those products could be integrated into much larger systems. We had a group that sold, installed and trained customers on how to use these monsters. Sometimes, and this was expected, we over-reached and customers would refuse to pay. As a QM, I could have easily provided documentation that these large systems had been thoroughly reviewed by "top management" and that we had taken a calculated risk, with foreknowledge that it was possible to produce a giant non-conformance to customer expectations.

    Let's face it, the days of making big money by producing brake rotors to print for ChryslerDodgeJeepAMCDaimlerMercedesFiat are gone. Anyone with a half-baked QA system can meet that specification every time and that is why CDJADMF will shave your profit margin to a fraction of a percent. Anybody want to take a guess at the defect rate under warranty for the original PS3 or XBOX? The numbers would curl the average CB auditor's toes.

    I am actually looking forward to convincing my first CB auditor that "X" is not a non-conformance but is a documented, possible, undesired outcome that was reviewed and approved by top management as an acceptable risk.

    Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go. – T. S. Eliot
     
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  16. Sidney Vianna

    Sidney Vianna Well-Known Member

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    No outsider (and that includes external auditors) should (mis)use ISO 9001:2015 RBT as something to micromanage the registrant's risk appetite. If an organization has a cultural affinity to make CALCULATED risk(y) decisions, the ISO Standard should not become a roadblock in the path of innovation.

    If you are managing your risks, even when a failure occurs, that is no reason for a CB NC. Just like, despite your best efforts, from time to time you will produce a nonconforming product. That in itself is no reason for a CB NC, either.
     
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  17. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    I have missed this thread, sorry. But If the context of the organization is reviewed with sales department, this might clarify how sales affect the success of the QMS.
     

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