Ask not what sales can do for you, ask what you can do for sales!


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In what ways can Sales and Marketing impede lean thinking? I saw that question on LinkedIn and just had to join the conversation. My thoughts:

1st Answer:

We should applaud Sales and Marketing in most organizations for the fact that they remained a silo. Most organizations create internal control points within the organization and call that pull, which I believe is incorrect.. I also hear quite frequently from Quality experts is not how to be a resource for S & M but how S & M can be a resource for them.

Can Lean be applied to Sales and Marketing? When most organizations look at doing this they consider how Sales and Marketing can make the organization more efficient. They consider them to be their Voice of the Customer for the organization and how they could level work flow, etc. If you want to Lean your Sales and Marketing, partner with the S&M Team and increase Face time with the customer and supply resources better or on demand when a customer/prospect needs them. Flatten your organization and trust your employees to be real resources not only for the S & M team but the customer.

Leveling demand is an act of understanding the marketplace. Hitting numbers is an act of poor management; (Sales Quotas lead to Waste, Maybe, the problem with leveling is that you are accepting pull from an internal control point versus the marketplace. This sounds a little pie in the sky but no more than the uncertainty that is built into production and sales forecast.

Variation is seldom understood within a company let alone in Sales and Marketing. This is an area that “efficiency” experts can help in the Sales and Marketing field. Manipulating and simplifying the data that they already have to help S & M respond to better qualified leads and understanding the customer desires is where they should be spending their time.

BTW: Pay attention to the word customer. The only true Customer is the person that uses the product or service.

2nd Time Around:

I agree leveling is important but it exist because organizations don’t experience true pull. It is an internal control point that manages internal operations and your expectation is that it should manage Sales and marketing and customers also. That is why you can’t level anything. Customers just wait till the control point needs to adjust and react accordingly. End of month, end of quarter, etc. They just play the game by the cards that they are dealt.

Your points are all valid if you live in world of excess demand. However, the world I live in is one of more supply than demand. So if a customer doesn’t like me, he finds a product from someone else (my insignificant customer quote that Terry was waiting for(said in fun)). My quick take on the article that Frank mentions:.the article is in MADEinPA on page 6-7.

Is that the author mentions six points of marketing excellence and my reactions are on the right:

  1. Segmentation – I think Community(Tribes)
  2. Value Proposition – I think Value Conversations
  3. Price to Premium – I think Partners
  4. Master channel Selection – I think Agile
  5. Product Development – I think Co-creation
  6. Customer Loyalty – I think Value Creation

These are not all pie in the sky terms. These are terms and practices that are being used at Xerox, IBM, Cisco and even Wal-Mart to an extent. The funny thing is that it is all PDCA. If you look at Liker’s description of Toyota’s Vendor selection in The Toyota Way Fieldbook (blog post on this: The 7 step Lean Process of Marketing to Toyota ), it is a good foundation. You are also seeing an increase usage and books on Kata and Liker’s new book publishing in April that has similar thoughts.

Lean professes to be a continuous improvement methodology based on value streams and pull. I believe the evolution of these principles are based on the success that we will have is not whether incorporating Sales and Marketing into lean but incorporating organizations into Sales and Marketing thru co-working, co-creation (practically on a one on one basis) with our customers. I think Lean, PDCA and Agile type methods are the best ways of achieving this.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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