Start with A3 for Continuous Improvement in Sales and Marketing

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Certainly in these days of information overload and web analytics we have more information than ever before to make our decisions with. I believe that this data is extremely important and needed to manage your company and your marketing. This data along with most financial data is all past tense. It tells a little of what will happen in the future or with our next marketing campaign per say. This data more importantly needs to be interpreted correctly and that relies on the basis of being a good problem solver.

Sales and Marketing has relied on their instincts. They think of themselves as the creative, free spirit and intuitional type. Most sales people and marketers are quite comfortable with, if not proud of their ability to analyze and solve problems. They generally do well at it or maybe they just adapt well to the outcomes that are driven by them.

The fact is that we error in our problem solving more often than we care to admit. We rely on trial and error as the most practical and effective means of problem solving. It has been that way since the beginning of time. Success is building on failures. You have to leave someone fail to learn. But how many of these are a result of bad luck or poor analysis.

The instinctive type approach is surprisingly rather closed to alternatives. As a result the outcome is frequently flawed or less effective than a structured approach. In The Thinker’s Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving book they outline six steps of problems with the intuitive approach to problem solving:

  1. We commonly begin our analysis of a problem by formulating our
    conclusions; we thus start at what should be the end of the analytic
    process.
  2. Our analysis usually focuses on the solution which we intuitively favor; we therefore give inadequate attention to alternative solutions.
  3. The solution we intuitively favor is more often than not the first one that seems satisfactory.
  4. We tend to confuse “discussing/thinking hard” about a problem
    with “analyzing” it (these2 activities are not at all the same).
  5. We focus on the substance (evidence, arguments, and
    conclusions) and not on the process of our analysts.
  6. Most people are functionally illiterate when it comes to structuring
    their analysis.

If people have not learned and understood problem solving techniques, they cannot formulate a reasonable conclusion. It is a guess and a reaction based simply on intuition.

Marketing with A3 is my attempt to bring a problem solving methodology to sales and marketing. The book itself will not spawn a lean transformation or a significant culture change within your company. It is a workbook, that I would use to introduce and guide me through the A3 process. It provides a background on A3, explanation of terms and many of the tools of A3, questions that will facilitate discussion of each step in the A3, blank forms and ten sample A3s for reference. The samples included are:

  1. Direct Marketing Inbound and Outbound Calls
  2. Training Program Outline
  3. Sales Communication on a Promotion
  4. Gap Analysis of an Annual Advertising Campaign
  5. Churn Rate Gap Analysis
  6. Increasing Consulting bookings
  7. Gaining Control of Internal Costing structure
  8. Business Plan Analysis for Industrial Segment
  9. Increase in Workshop Attendance
  10. Increase in ROI of present Marketing Activities

Sales and Marketing not only needs to improve but they must improve their problem solving skills. The book, Marketing with A3 is the introduction needed. It enables sales and marketing to use the Lean tool of A3 as a template/structured approach for their own efforts. It will also demonstrate meaningful and measurable results of your actions. You will enter meetings armed with facts and profound knowledge of your activities as a result engages in more meaningful conversations. It requires a different approach. The dialogue is sometimes not easy. But seldom is any improvement.

Using a structured approach, such as the Lean thinking tool of A3, the mind remains open, enabling one to examine each element of the decision or problem separately or systematically, and sufficiently, ensuring that all alternatives are considered. The outcome is almost always more comprehensive and more effective than the instinctive approach.

Why the Future of Marketing is Lean!

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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