What Should the Sales Production System Look Like
in Your Company?

by Michael Webb

The goal of sales and marketing is to find out what customers in your market are most willing to pay for, and give it to them. Although initially potential customers may only “pay” you by giving their attention, their time, and their information, the goal of course is to get their money for your products and services.

This stream of customer actions (called the Customer Journey) is the product of sales and marketing work. Needless to say, a company that sells and markets well creates more value, often dominating its market. A company that sells and markets poorly does not.

If you accept the premise that sales and marketing in fact produces value apart from the product itself, the next question is, “What does doing sales and marketing well (or at least avoiding doing it poorly) really mean?”

The answer to this question is operational excellence: Value must be distinguished from waste. The work must be operationally defined so it can be repeated. Further, the flow of production must be made visible, so it can be observed, measured, analyzed, and improved. And perhaps most importantly, the people involved must be engaged to learn from their experience in order to improve their performance.

Needless to say, most companies today find operational excellence in sales and marketing easier said than done. One of the reasons for this state of affairs is the differences between the manufacturing production environments (where process excellence originated) and the sales and marketing environments which often tend to resist Lean process improvement:

The Production Environment

  • Output is tangible and visible.
  • Means of identifying and measuring waste and value are in place.
  • People generally work together in a single facility.
  • The objective of the work is to meet the specification every time.