Blog / Sales Process Improvement Forum

Do Highly Successful Companies Use Process Management Tools in Marketing and Sales?

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)
nail's victory over a hammer

A reader asked this question:

  • We’re wondering if highly successful, well-known companies use process management tools in marketing and sales?

By “process management tools,” I assume he means “Do successful companies use ‘5S, Kanban, work cells, Andon lights, etc.’ in sales and marketing?” 

The answer is yes, many companies have tried this, sometimes successfully.

However, as the old saying goes, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” And in this case, applying the tools of lean manufacturing is not the same as actually improving things, so often nothing useful happens. Many of these efforts are wasted, and sometimes the practitioners take a beating.

First, you want to understand the reasons for this. Then I’ll explain why process excellence in sales is such a fantastic growth and profit opportunity. 

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How to Get Sales & Marketing Leader’s Commitment in Lean Initiatives

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)

A reader asked

  • How can you get sales and marketing leader’s commitment in Lean initiatives?

SocratesI get this question all the time from lean process excellence leaders. Here is the simple answer: 

  • You cannot win salespeople’s hearts and minds unless you can help them sell. 

Here’s the critical thing: Sales and marketing work is fundamentally different than that of production manufacturing. Sales is not just another department, like production, legal, or engineering, or customer service. 

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Successfully Transform to a Lean Culture in Your Sales Organization.

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)

A reader asked this question: 

  • How to successfully transform to a lean culture in our sales organization?

When you start thinking about it, this is a pretty juicy question. An awful lot has already been written “How to successfully transform to a lean culture.” So, first let’s get our arms around that.

One of the best ways to do that in my opinion is to learn the story of NUMMI, the famous joint venture between GM and Toyota. NPR’s This American Life program did an excellent story on this several years ago. I like it, because it illustrates so many things at one time:

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Is Diagnostic Consulting Better than Solution Selling?

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)

A reader named Brian asked:  

Have you found that diagnostic consulting is more effective than solution selling when working with prospective clients?

 Answer: Yes.

This is a perceptive question, I appreciate the fact you are asking it. There is bad news and good news in the answer.

First, the bad news. Diagnostic consulting for sales and marketing is controversial. It should not be, but many sales and marketing executives naturally assume they know what their problems are, and so resist diagnosis (especially paid diagnosis) on the grounds that “you must be trying to get paid to do a proposal.”

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A Strategic Approach to Better Business Results

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)

As the Rate of Change Accelerates…

Oscar Wilde described a cynic as “someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” For business leaders this is no laughing matter. Organizations that understand how customers perceive value can create, deliver and communicate it better than internally focused / financially managed firms.

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How to Make Marketing Indispensable

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)

At its conference last year Marketing Sherpa hosted Kelly Harmon, VP of Marketing at Carousel Industries who presented a talk titled “How to Make Marketing Indispensable – Strategies for Turning Your Sales Team Into Your Biggest Fans.” (24 minutes – a written summary provides highlights)

I thought this was an outstanding display of insight to salespeople’s challenges, and an example of a company making great strides to become more customers focused. To my knowledge Carousel Industries is not formally following any kind of Lean or process excellence strategy.

Nonetheless, the improvements and methods she describes are inspiring and productive. Bravo!

How to Make Marketing Indispensable – Strategies for Turning Your Sales Team Into Your Biggest Fans

Here is the link to watch

I’d love to learn your comments.

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How can Lean and Six Sigma help us increment our market share?

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)

Hector, a sales and marketing manager for a company that makes heating equipment asks: 

  • How can Lean and Six Sigma help us increment our market share? 

I called Hector, and he explained his problem this way: 

“Our product has great market share in the residential market. My job is to grow the business in the commercial market. How can Lean Six Sigma help me to do that?” 

Lots of B2B companies wish they had a starving market. Instead, they have competitors, and the market may even currently prefer those competitors. That’s the bad news. The good news is process excellence can help by breaking the problem down into smaller pieces, and then improving the pieces.

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Want to Grow Your Business? Tie Decisions to the Evidence in Sales and Marketing

by Michael Webb | * Comments (2)

I ran across a classic article a couple days ago that should be required reading for executives trying grow their business more confidently and predictably. It was written in 1993 by Myron Tribus, who was head of MIT’s Center for Advanced Engineering Study at the time Deming’s (also classic) “Out of the Crisis” was published (in 1982).  The central idea is that organizations are far more successful if their executives understand how to trace their decisions to evidence and data (especially in sales and marketing-MW).

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Is [Lean process excellence] relevant to a Sales and Marketing Environment?

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)

A question from one of our readers…

“Is it relevant to a Sales and Marketing Environment?”

Lean process excellence originated in manufacturing. It is a means of getting more productivity from fewer resources; by understanding and improving the way work is done. 

  • The means of understanding and improving how work is done definitely applies to sales and marketing.
  • The specific improvements appropriate for manufacturing environments may not work so well for sales and marketing. (I’m referring to jargon like “5S,” kanban, set-up reduction, single-piece flow, etc.) 

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Is Process Improvement Primarily About Doing Improvement Projects?

by Michael Webb | * Comments (3)

A reader asked:  

I’ve been asked to organize a variety of process improvements proposed by our sales and marketing organizations. How do I select the right projects that will get the best results?

There are lots of checklists available to remind you to do things like make sure the problem is important to the organization, creates value for customers in some way, is well defined, not too big, and to verify data is available, etc. 

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