March Roundup: Can We "Sell" Quality?

Do we need to make the case for “selling” quality in 2012? Is “selling” the wrong term for showing the C-suite the value of what we do? What would Deming say?

These themes ran through the many passionate responses by the Influential Voices bloggers and beyond in reply to my March post on “selling” quality. The responses ranged from philosophical reflections on selling quality—is “educating” a more accurate term?—to tips on communicating the value of quality to peers and executives. I encourage you to read the blogs cited below. There’s a wealth of knowledge, experience, and resources.

Why sell quality? Is it futile to “sell” quality to an organization that doesn’t understand the intrinsic value of quality? Dr. Robert Burney writes that quality can’t be “sold”—but that organizations can create a quality culture. Mark Graban comments: “I think if we’re having to convince our CEO that quality matters, then our organization might be a lost cause and maybe it’s time to find a new job.”

Things that work: Deb Mackin asks quality professionals for their advice, and compiles feedback on getting a seat at the table. Dr. Lotto Lai makes the case for convincing top executives that quality is worthwhile, while persuading one’s peers. Sameer Chougle encourages us to demonstrate the value of quality by “doing” rather than “selling.” John Priebe focuses on metrics and scorecards. Manu Vora says, “Sell value–not quality.” Suresh Lulla says, “Speak the language of management–money!”

University professor Paulo Sampaio offers an interesting academic perspective on the role of quality.  Guy Wallace created a 10-minute, step-by-step instructional video with ideas on “selling” quality. Rajan Thiyagarajan blogs about several case studies and success stories of companies that used quality successfully (including Infosys and Suziki). Anshuman Tiwari looks to both Apple and street vendors for lessons in selling and deploying quality.

Jennifer Stepniowski draws on her personal experience in “selling” quality, and offers suggestions (“know your stuff”). Jimena Calfa, too, offers advice based on her experience in the software quality industry (focus on numbers and data, and don’t forget to be friendly).  John Hunter suggests ways to approach different types of executives and organizations. Just don’t fall for or offer what Dr. Deming called “instant pudding” solutions, he adds. 

Chris Hermenitt makes the case for educating others about quality, rather than selling.  Tim McMahon emphasis two key principles that must be part of every “selling quality” strategy: focus on safety and built-in quality. Scott Rutherford offers two blog posts: One on selling both parts of quality–conformance to standard and performance improvement. The other post is a reflection on making quality count rather than bundling it up in a training program. 

Don’t forget the customer: Nicole Radziwill writes that consumers, too, have a role in the “selling” quality debate—they must be willing to spend their money on quality products.  Nergis Soylemez points out that selling high quality at low prices is key to success. David Levy writes that we must sell quality to everyone: our customers, our suppliers, our peers. Robert Mitchell encourages organizations to look at the total customer experience, which can lead to quality selling itself. 

Are you—the quality professional—doing your part? Aimee Siegler wonders if quality professionals are hesitant to point out the importance of quality to top management. And Cesar Diaz Guevara writes that, above all, quality must be your personal mindset and philosophy. Is it?

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2 Responses to March Roundup: Can We "Sell" Quality?

  1. Kishore says:

    I agree with Dr. Vora that it is important to sell value to stakeholders. Value addition is a multi-dimensional concept that contributes to triple bottom line (people, planet and profits).

    1. Deliver better products and services to customers at a lower cost.

    2. Charge suppliers as little as possible.

    3. Pay employees better wages, provide them with safe working environment and infrastructure to perform their jobs better, faster, and smarter way, help them improve competencies, and help them grow within the organization.

    4. Deliver profits and better rate of return to owners, board of directors, and stockholders through better return on investments (Long term and Short term).

    5. Make a positive impact on society by being socially responsible organization

  2. Cesar Diaz says:

    I invite all ASQ friends to answer the survey of the main factors for succeed in selling Quality, in my blog:

    1. Personal commitment and passion to Quality.
    2. Speak the language of top management (facts and data).
    3. Have different strategies for each organization level.
    4. Work with core values not only with data
    5. Motivate managers to convince other managers.
    6. Applying selling techniques to convince, persuade and always have creative actions
    7. Other factors

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