Kanban Board for Sales

Use case

Customer story

Industry: Sales

Use case: Software sales and distribution

Favorite feature: Email integrations

Kanban method, previously used mainly in lean manufacturing process, has gained popularity within corporation settings. Various departments are looking for ways to implement Kanban into their workflow. In this article I will be sharing the use case of Kanban boards for software distribution.

Visualization and management of your sales might be troublesome without proper tools and strategies in place. It was often difficult to manage sales prior to setting up the Kanban board. Once created, Kanban has proven itself useful for the purpose of tracking initial interest of potential customers throughout the negotiations process, ending at the finalization of the sale and monitoring the happiness of the customers.

Kanban sales board

Initial contact and automated emails

The sales process starts with the initial contact and interest in the software. A new card is added on the Sales board indicating the potential customer. Customer information is entered along with any additional feedback. Just like average sales pipeline, many of the requests meet with no further response or no follow up on the license proposal. To enhance the license proposal we want to gather feedback from these users and see what caused them to abandon interest in the solution.

To automate this process we have deployed a Kanban Tool to Gmail via Zapier integration that will send an email to the person asking for more feedback. The integration is set up in the „No response contact” column and will be triggered when the card is moved there. Typically, we move the card after about 7 days of no contact. The „Working time” found in the GitHub repository script comes really handy here as it displays the number of days elapsed since the contact.

Zapier integration

A custom field with point of contact email is required in order for the integration to work. Zapier will use that field to send the email to proper person. A plain body text with feedback request is also set up in this integration. All it takes is dragging the card to the corresponding column and feedback request will be sent. Received feedback is then recorded and dropped in the comments tab of a card for further reference. This helps us tremendously to tailor our offer according to the needs of our customers.

Negotiations and information container

Let's focus now on the clients who are interested in pursuing our on premise installation. Upon moving the client card to „Deal negotiations” column, a person is assigned who is responsible for the sale and negotiations. This person will accompany the client till the end of the process.

Deal negotiations mean anything from price negotiations to license terms and extra accommodations. All that information is recorded in the Comments tab and checklist items are created in case any supplementary documents that need to be reviewed and signed. All files connected to the sale are attached to the card for easy access.

The most important part of the license sale is License Agreement negotiations. To ease that process we add the file to a Google Drive storage (Google Drive integration) and submit the link to the client. This way they can review and drop down any comments or changes directly on the document.

Once the progress bar indicates completion and we have came to an agreement with the customer, the card is moved to a „Waiting for signature” column. This process takes a while depending on the sale case. Some corporations might need to submit the Agreement to different departments or a CEO of the company for it to be signed. Upon receiving the signed copy, the salesman submits the agreement to our CEO and adds the final copy to the client card for the record.

Finalizing the sale

Signed agreement gives us a green light to proceed with actual software distribution. We were considering an automated email to be send with software link and license key, however we have decided that a more personal connection with the client will be of greater benefit. We will have a better understanding about the needs of our customer and can give them better support. I believe automated distribution emails will work great in work flows with greater volume of daily sales.

Once the software is delivered, a due date is set and the task is moved to „In evaluation” column.

Kanban on-site sales

You were probably wondering what „*T*” means in the column description. We have deployed a custom script that changes the card color after elapsed time. Our 14 day evaluation period, just like our 14 day trial for online services, allows our customers to test drive the software and make the final decision. The „*T*” marks the column in which the script will be working. When the card enters the column it will turn red after 30 days indicating the end of evaluation copy. This helps us tremendously to visualize that a new license key has to be submitted.

As you can see above, a card on the top has already turned red meaning that the evaluation period has ended for that customer. This visual notification lets us know that a contact with this customer has to be made in order to extend their license.

At this point of the process an integration between Mandril and Kanban Tool is worth considering. Integration with Mandril allows you to set an email to be sent 7 days before the end of the evaluation copy reminding the customer about the license extension. What I like about Mandril integration is that you can set custom time intervals for various emails like 7 days before the deadline or 3 months after the deadline to see what's going on with the customer.

Going back to our sales board, upon the end of evaluation period we will be contacting the customer regarding the continuation of their license. This step in our sales pipeline has had 100% closing probability so we try our best to keep it that way! A purchase order along with an invoice is added to the card for our reference. Storing all your documents in Kanban cards is an easy way to stay organized with your sales. Nothing gets lost.

Once the customer lands in „Active customers” column at the end it means the sale is done. The Due date on a card is set to the date when the license expires. We have Mandril integration set up in this column that sends us an email a month before the license expires. It lets us know that a contact has to be made with the client to see whether they want to continue their license and gather the feedback.

Our active customers are split into two separate columns to maintain active connection with the customers. Client cards in „In contact” column indicates that there is an active ongoing support regarding their software installation or that a feedback has been gathered.

Customer information container

Onto the card template design now. We have set up our cards with custom fields to manage the license details easier.

Kanban sales board

An easy access to these details allows us to issue the invoices faster and store all deal information in one place. Comments section is used to drop feedback, notify about the changes, communications and really anything that is connected to the license. History tab allows us to check how long it took for each step to be finished. There is not much room to improve the performance on the sales board as the Lead & Cycle Time solely depends on the customer and additional steps that need to be taken in order to finalize the sale.

Summary and key integrations

In summary, Kanban board has helped us tremendously to create a sales process easy to manage and maintain. Various integrations took some work off our shoulders, but we have abandoned some of the automation practices to treat our customers personally. A strong connection with customers allows us to understand their needs and expectations better as well as provide the best support we can.

Key integrations:

  • Kanban Tool & Gmail integration via Zapier
  • Working time script
  • Card color transition script
  • Mandril integration for customer satisfaction!