Many businesses have already begun looking into lean production and have already got an idea about the transition. There are many similarities between the lean manufacturing journey and the lean journey for sales and marketing companies. Many of the ideas used in lean manufacturing can be applied to sales and marketing companies.
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Your business can benefit in numerous different ways when lean marketing tools are implemented well. Read on to find out more:
Fundamentals to Lean in Sales and Marketing
The two key fundamentals to lean in sales and marketing are employee empowerment and top-down leadership. They are not individually exclusive; you need them both.
Why? I hear you ask. This is because if everyone agreed on what new techniques would work the best, they would already be doing it. Many people may disagree with the improvements that you make as they may think that your ideas won’t work or they may think that their ideas are better. If you want to be a good leader, then you should create an environment where your employees feel comfortable to have a healthy debate and test their ideas whilst making sure that your company learns from them.
This is particularly true in sales and marketing. Value-add is invisible in sales and marketing businesses, unlike most other production environments. This is the reason that many sales and marketing companies are usually unable to make any improvements in their processes or lean without some help from outside their business. Thankfully, over the past few years, sales and marketing have begun to benefit from the years of study on how to work effectively and efficiently. Aside from the belief that sales and marketing businesses are becoming especially lean, managers may be unaware of how to measure value-add.
Best Practices for Lean in Sales and Marketing
In the lean manufacturing journey, there are many practices to follow, including Value Stream, 5S’s, Setup Reduction, etc. In sales and marketing, there are similar practices that you should follow. These include:
- 5 S’s
- Value Stream Mapping
- Set-up Reduction
- Deming’s Management System (PDCA)
Before implementing these practices, your employees will require “soft training”. This will give your employees’ knowledge about why the lean journey is required, what it involves, and what part they will play. “Hard training” will also be required. This involves showing your employees new ways of performing their roles and how to measure things such as how long it takes them to do something.
Below is a list of some of the main types of projects that are needed in implementing the lean process in sales and marketing:
- 5S’s – This involves more than encouraging your employees to clean and organize their workspace. Sales and process savvy must work out what is needed to complete the job and organize it. This may include qualification criteria, customer value maps, ROI models, value propositions and more. The 5 S’s are sorted, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain (continue with the process). The aim of the 5 S’s is to create a comfortable and safe environment by encouraging your employees to keep their workspace clean, neat and in order. This will help increase productivity and will motivate your employees too. It was initially created to help reduce costs and empower employees. The 5 S’s work both in the manufacturing industry and the office. Lean 5 is a brilliant tool to help motivate and create order in the workplace.
- Sales Value Stream Mapping – This is the main process for allowing your business to work out how value is created during production. This allows your team to understand sales production as a system which will then enable them to prioritize the main elements that need improving.
- Qualification Criteria – Sales value stream mapping and the 5 S’s both measure the number of deals flowing through the sales funnel. The qualification criteria measure quality. It shows salespeople how to identify value and waste that they can’t see on their own.
- Lead Nurturing and Lead Generation – Lead nurturing is the method of informing your leads about things that they might be interested in. Once you have generated these leads, you need to nurture them until they are ready to buy. You can do this by reminding them about the products and services you offer, reminding them that you’re still in operation and telling them why you are better than the competition. To do this you need to build a strong relationship with your customers and then nurture it by staying in contact with them. When your employees have a lot of responsibility, they will often skip certain steps or complete them inconsistently. Nothing is better for increasing the sales flow than splitting up lead nurturing and generation from selling itself.
- PDCA (Sales Kaizen) – Kaizen allowed Japanese automotive manufacturers to win the car wars. It looks at simple measures and communication. It also helps you locate the cause of any problems, which enables you to improve your system. Kaizen involves continuous improvement by all of the people involved in the process. Applying this to the sales process, sales personnel are required to make improvements in the processes they use at work every day. This may involve preparing bundle offers that suit your customers’ wants and needs or altering forms according to the customers you are targeting your sales and marketing at.
Putting in place a lean journey in sales and marketing is a great idea if you are wanting to increase your profitability. Just like its manufacturing counterpart, there are many benefits to implementing it. At a basic level, lean promises to not only reduce the cost of sales, but it also promises to improve sales growth. Of course, this is not guaranteed, as other factors come into play such as competitor behavior and general market conditions, but the possibility of this win-win position should be more than enough to persuade sales and marketing skeptics to try out the lean idea. By working along with a similar model to the lean manufacturing model, we can learn a lot.