What Is The Best Way To Get Buy In With Lean And CRM In General

The founder of an innovative $3 million manufacturing company asked:

  • What’s the best way to get buy in with Lean and CRM in general?

It’s a great question, which goes to the challenges of leading sales and marketing. Since you used the words Lean and CRM in the same sentence, I’ll assume you have heard the stories about how Toyota’s production system supports the line workers. They really are at the top, responsible for quality. And they famously have the ability to stop the production line if they find defects. The entire management team’s job at Toyota is to find ways to help those line workers improve quality for the customer, while consuming fewer resources and less time doing it.

For Toyota, the value stream is assembling seats or body panels on a production line. In sales and marketing, the value stream is enabling prospective customers to take actions you want them to take. As one example of how this works in sales and marketing, check out lean at Amazon.

Salespeople know they have to get a prospect’s attention, information, time, and ultimately their trust if they are ever going to have a chance to earn any of their money. However, executives often simply hand them a sales quota without much analysis of what will be required to get customers to take these actions. Unfortunately, a sales quota does not help salespeople sell.

The key is to recognize two things:

  • First, if you want prospects to walk with you along their customer journey, your company must provide something useful to them at each stage. That which improves the flow of prospects converting to customers creates value; everything else is waste.
  • Second, just as assembly plant workers could not build an assembly line on their own, most salespeople can’t create a sales process on their own either. Developing and improving the sales production system is quite different from doing sales work

So, to get buy in, you have to take the same approach as Toyota. Start by helping marketing, selling, and servicing workers to define their value stream. Identify the problems they are struggling with, and prioritize areas that can be improved. Marketing’s job is to research, design, and improve the production system, automating whatever can be automated cost effectively. Sale’s and service’s job is to do the things that cannot be automated. Management’s job is to ensure the work is approached in a systematic, evidence-driven manner, to remove the roadblocks, and find a way to provide the resources customer-facing workers need to succeed.

That’s how to earn the hearts and minds of everyone involved.


Michael Webb

Michael Webb founded Sales Performance Consultants to create a data-driven alternative to the slogans and shallow impact offered by typical sales training, sales consulting, and CRM companies. Michael helped organize and delivered the keynote speeches for the first conferences ever held on applying Six Sigma to marketing and sales. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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