Sales & Marketing (S&M) has always be excluded when it come to application of Lean principles
you can say Sales & Marketing were never meant to be excluded but because of those limiting words “Lean Manufacturing” or maybe because the Sales & Marketing people’s limited attention/ attitude towards Lean which made them feel that Lean is not for them and therefore it got excluded.
The reasons behind this are not well-documented or researched.
The Sales & Marketing activities includes a broad range of activities including sales management, business development, advertising, market research, direct marketing, communication, PR, etc. Furthermore, to add to this, each sector/ industry have their own approaches & methods so that degree of adaptation will be required.
Lean simply means creating more value for your customer with fewer resources. It aims at identification & elimination of non-value adding process which customers are not willing to pay. So when you focus on applying Lean to Sales & Marketing you can achieve pretty big gains. Sales & Marketing department like other departments follows a process & have their own problems which needs tools that will enable them to improve the process. The typical Sales & Marketing process includes Planning – Marketing – Qualifying – Proposing – Delivering – Feedback. This may vary from company to company or industry to industry, but broadly these are the steps that are included.
In Lean manufacturing, a standardized, step-by-step method is being followed to meet the customers’ needs. Similarly, you can do this in sales and marketing by standardizing things such as managing & mapping marketing activities, mailing catalogs, sales orders, or forecasting sales, etc. based on the past experience or phenomenon. The sales & marketing managers need to think in terms of process or value streams and start to examine how they approach their work & modify it by eliminating wasteful activities that adds no value but time. This can result in short Lead Time, high quality, flow of activities, minimizing waste, etc. A weak link weakens the whole process & system. Therefore it is must to think from a process or value stream point of view. It is very important to have a proper structure, process that can be measure & mapped in order to apply lean. The first step to build a structure for sales & marketing to have a strong foundation. Understanding the customer & their requirement is critical. This serves as a great support for building a strong foundation & determine the rest of the structure. Lean is system focused & customer driven so optimizing the value stream from their eyes is important. Review your past activities which care performing well. There must be a reason for that. Metrics play an important role. Define what is success? How you are going to measure it? Using Lean metrics measured by drivers is at the heart of making your plan effective & that is the key. Most of the organization jumps at the result rather than looking at the process. Mapping the future state is where we start seeing it all come together. Focus on process KPI’s rather than result KPI’s. Support the structure with each value stream or product or service.
The foundation on which the pillars stand on is the work you do each day and is what insures the customer value proposition is implemented. In Lean, it doesn’t necessarily matter which tools the organizations use, but what matters is which tools are effective with the customer or the particular value stream segment, represented by the pillars. It is about starting with customer, instead of ending with them. It is about roatating PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) throughout the sales & marketing cycle with constant feedback from customers that can only occur if they are part of the process. It is about creating value in your sales & marketing which a customer needs to enable him to make a better decision. It is about managing a value stream marketing process. In Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, Revised and Updated by Womack and Jones, the authors introduced five core concepts:
1. Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer by product family.
2. Identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.
3. Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.
4. As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
5. As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.
These five values are represented in the Lean Marketing as
1. Identify Value (Roof)
2. Map Value Stream (Ceiling)
3. Create Flow (Value Stream – Pillars)
4. Establish Pull (Foundation)
5. Seek Perfection (Base)
Think of the touch points you have with a customer. Is each one creating value? When your customer moves from one stage to the next, is the move value-driven? In the truest form of the meaning, a Lean Marketing company should only have two components: an introduction to a new lead and the acceptance of an order. All other components would be considered wasteful and are candidates for elimination. These five parts can be best served through Lean, more specifically, using a value stream approach.
Even though Lean is a proven way of thinking & used by many, it is new to a lot of people. It is critical that they immediately see the benefit of what they are working on and they are also successful at it so the new, Lean patterns of thinking become automatic and part of unconscious behaviors.
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Lean Marketing House & Cap-Do books by Joseph T. Dager