How Can We Convince Sales and Marketing About the Advantages of Lean in Their Processes?
A reader recently asked:
This is a great question, and I get it a lot. The primary issue is that salespeople and marketers do not see how Lean will help them sell or do marketing. This is aggravated by the fact that Lean is usually presented using manufacturing examples, not sales and marketing examples. And the truth is, most lean practitioners have never carried a sales quota or been involved in the essentials of marketing.
You have to remember that salespeople live in a world full of brochures and websites no one reads, so-called “leads” that waste their time, quotes and proposals that don’t close, and service departments that are marching to a different drummer. They are expected to find a way to succeed in this world, not to change the way this world works. And THAT is the problem. Telling them about 5S, Kanban, and other lean manufacturing tools is nearly useless and likely increases resistance.
Once salespeople realize that the whole point is to make it easier for customers to buy and sellers to sell, that if they can discover evidence of bottlenecks and prove the effectiveness of countermeasures the resources of the whole company will be brought to bear to apply those countermeasures, you will have sales and marketing departments stand at attention for Lean, because they will understand how it will help them sell.
Easy things to say, of course, and it helps immensely to convince them if you have lived the life of a sales and marketing person. But nonetheless, you have to get people to remember that sales and marketing is a production system, it produces immense value. Lean is simply the means of applying the scientific method to define your terms, make the quality and quantity of flow visible, and engage your people to continuously find ways to make the system more productive (increase value, reduce waste).
Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts about this. Have you seen the same kinds of things?
Author of Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way
Theory of Constraints provides the focus and leverage to successfully apply constraints management, Lean and Six Sigma to the sales function.
In complex B2B sales, the capacity constraining resource is high quality business development appointments — i.e. the right salesperson, at right place, at right time, with engaged buyer representatives and a compelling value proposition.
Yet, top-performing salespeople spend a very small percentage (<<30%, typically <10%) of their time actually calling on well developed opportunities for doing business with new customers.
Not all revenue involves SALES. Typically, the business franchise produces some revenue; so does marketing activity, prior sales efforts, account management, customer service, online stores and 'parts/supplies' order desks
SALES happen when salespeople apply sales efforts to sales opportunities. Marketing can discover and generate sales opportunities. Sales management can prioritize portfolios of sales opportunities based on money value, strategic fit and near-term conversion likelihood, and schedule salespeoples' sales efforts, accordingly.
With this approach, top-performing sales people can SELL, full time, while the rest of the "Sales Team" attends to the business' other revenue streams.
Rather straightforward "division of labor" can achieve huge year-over-year revenue increases, while reducing overall sales and marketing costs.
With a systematic sales process in place, TOC Lean Sigma (TLS) disciplines can continuously improve Throughput (aka contribution margin), while minimizing waste and variation.