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.
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