A while back we posted an article entitled Lean-in on Sales and Marketing. The article received quite the response via email and proved the notion that as powerful of a strategy lean is, it still is somewhat misunderstood in sales and marketing. The basic idea at hand with almost anything that we do in life or work is that if we do something and it works, we should at least try to apply it to other aspects of our life in hopes of obtaining the same results. The same concept applies with lean in sales and marketing. Lean principles are applied in operational environments, quality environments and accounting environments with great success and they can be applied with the same level of success in sales and marketing too. In this week's edition of Listen to the Gemba we will outline the ©SALES methodology that we use to help others with the application of lean to increase sales, improve marketing and free up sales and marketing resources to focus on what they need to; building relationships and closing sales.
Standardize activities - While we outlined this concept in our earlier post Lean-in on Sales and Marketing, the concept of setting standards still rings true today. There are activities that simply must happen when it comes to sales and marketing: nurturing relationships, follow up, generating quotes and letting people know you're still alive. Many of these activities can be attached to standard functions or activities that take place on a regular basis. When we use successful process benchmarks to document what should be happening we can easily see what is not happening which inevitably prompts an informative exception guiding and driving targeted actions that we don't necessarily have to search, think or worry about.
Automate activities - In today's day and age technology provides a powerful assistance for our workers. Many activities in marketing don't require manual clicking or hours and hours of labor to be put into the workflow. You can use email automation to assign specific market segments to a workflow that nurtures the relationship as they travel through the sales funnel. Workflows can also be as advanced or simple as you want sending simple content communication or tracking who opens, clicks and views and who does not. They also can be designed so that when a prospect has a question the customer service team knows it and can answer that question according to the customers needs.
Level activities - Let's suppose you get an order in hand, how do you ensure you can follow through on your commitments and make sure nothing goes astray. Having a S&OP process in place can help organizations align supply with demand. The basic premise of sales and operations planning is to ensure that your supplies can match the demand being placed on the organization with the supply of resources, materials or services you have or adjust accordingly to meet the needs.
Eliminate - Just like any other process flow eliminating muda or non - value added activities can provide opportunities for sales and marketing employees to focus on transforming leads into sales. Mapping the value streams current states will make visual all activities that take place and could reveal possible variations in the process that lead to lost sales or conversion of prospects and leads. Aside from reviewing what is actually happening designing a focused future state can actually help clarify the process to your team which better enables them to guide or pivot the funnel.
Sale - Last but not least sale! If you can successfully implement all the activities listed above your marketing and sales team will have much more time on their hands to build relationships and nurture them. This extra time allows sales and marketing to work on building long term and lasting relationships that create a win - win situation for both the customer and the supplier.
Although it is often one of the last areas that we look at in our lean journey, lean applied to sales and marketing can in fact be one of the most beneficial elements of a lean journey. Having target objectives and a vision of where you want the process to go can assist in influencing the effectiveness of the funnel.
あまりにも販売中リーン作品。Unless you speak or read Japanese, those first few words may be unfamiliar to you. They say quite simply, Lean works in Sales too. Well, I hope they do; although I have been to Japan I can not say I am fluent by any means. While it often times ends up being a learning curve or feeling like babel Lean principles can also become the common language in Sales and Marketing too. In fact it may be that Lean when applied to sales and marketing can yield increased results that will provide noticeable improvements to your bottom line.
1. Identify Customer Value
Remember the principles of Lean still apply, we still want to define what value is to a customer. Because sale and marketing are often in the pipeline this is a fantastic opportunity to get some of the purest data on what customer value is, right from the source. You may want to investigate some options for CRM initiatives or conjure up an anonymous voice of the customer survey, whatever your tactic is take advantage of this key principle and begin to identify exactly what value is to your customers.
2. Set the Standards
We don't often think of Sales and Marketing as strictly Internal functions, they work on both sides of the Vale constantly going out and returning to report back. By setting Clear and decisive standards for common activities like quoting, sales orders, email campaigns or contacting customers in the pipeline we can ensure that our sales and marketing team don't start their blogs in a foreign language. Remember that standards are the basis for improvement opportunities and they can be applied anywhere.
3. Eliminate "Tacit" Implement Transparent
While this tip is very similar to Standardization, we should note that many times Sales managers and employees are often left trying to figure out what "language" they should speak. Often times a sales process is not defined and salesman must turn to their experience in hopes that it will work without variation. One solution to this common issue of Tacit knowledge is to begin to gather the elements that can be standardized and do so, remember if performed correctly Standardization takes the benchmark or the best practice and puts it to work for you. This simple tactical activity will transform tacit knowledge into a common language. If you can take 20% of your Sales and Marketing teams activities and standardize them just think they will have 20% more time to hone in on Transforming or adding Value to the relationships that may be sitting in queue.
4. Huddle up!
While huddling is a great start to becoming more transparent, making Sales and Marketing activities Visual is so, so powerful. When things become Visual we can then manage and support based on the activities shown. That would mean if some activities became Visual in Sales and Marketing or S&OP activities we would then see and be able to track;
1. Relationships or Conditions that are falling to the wayside
2. Opportunities not being attended to
While many of these Key performance Indicators allow us to track activities that may "not" be happening we should also note the activities that are happening;
1. Meeting Goals
2. Big Sales
3. Cross selling performance
4 Improvement of Triple Bottom Line
Let's remember too that we track metrics to figure out how we can improve and continue to create new Economic, Environmental and Social opportunities so make things visual with the intention of improving, aligning and supporting each other.
While it may seem like a foreign language from time to time and you may not be fluent right away, every language has the ability to be learned or translated even the language of Lean in Sales and Marketing. It's like any other Journey, just get started and one day you will look back with astonishment on what once seemed so foreign that now seems so familiar.