Lean can help eliminate wasteful sales & marketing spending.
Lean manufacturing is a trusted and widespread methodology for eliminating waste in manufacturing. In fact, nearly 70% of manufacturers use Lean practices. However, if you’re like most manufacturers, Lean concepts get applied to productions, but not to sales and marketing. Why is this? It’s tough to apply Lean to customer interactions without good tools and a clear methodology. The good news is, things are getting much easier and eliminating waste in sales/marketing is within reach of any manufacturer.
What kind of waste should you look out for? Here’s the list – each area will look familiar – they are the same 8 wastes of Lean, applied to sales and marketing challenges:
What are 8 Wastes of Lean Sales & Marketing?
Any time you interact with a customer with the wrong information, you are creating a defect. Whether that is a proposal with the wrong product in it due to unclear needs assessment or not delivering a message tailored to the person you’re communicating with. Every time communication defects occur, you’re leaving trust, dollars, and a strong relationship behind.
With customer communication, more is not better. If you can collect everything you need to serve a customer well in one short needs assessment meeting and deliver a quote quickly, you’ve done well. Anytime you re-engage the customer to gather more information or clarify needs, you’ve added production time and waste.
Another form of waste here is trying to close a sale before the right information has been confirmed. Customers don’t commit to purchases or agreements unless they have everything they need to make the decision.
Effective sales and marketing initiatives operate at-the-ready and deliver information quickly and on committed timelines. Waiting for answers internally from design, production, or inventory kills momentum and slows down deals.
In addition, you should be able to “act as one” with clear lines of communication and customer information storage so you can get answers right away with no waiting.
4. Non-Utilized Talent
This could also be titled “under-utilized talent”. Sales and marketing folks should be able to focus nearly all of their time on serving customers, not running internal manual processes, digging for information, or creating proposals. Creating simple processes that keep sales and marketing folks in front of customers and out of administrative functions is key to eliminating waste – no one wants to be in sales or marketing to do non-selling activities.
Digging through e-mail, remembering to make calls and follow up on tasks, editing word/excel documents, and creating lead follow up spreadsheets can be a thing of the past. Good CRM and marketing software like Flywheel can eliminate transportation overhead and keep you focused on deals.
Good Lean processes and systems in production should make delivery timeline promises solid, inventory on hand reliable, and lead times reasonable.
However, sales and marketing should hold the same standards – quote delivery should be kept to a minimum size queue with clear timelines to give customers quotes. Costs and margins should be transparent to salespeople so they can make good decisions at the time of need on pricing. Lastly it’s important that good “Control Tower” principles are applied to sales/marketing so folks get answers quickly.
Help your team become more productive by automating everything you can:
“Automation is cost cutting by tightening the corners and not cutting them.” Haresh Sippy
Modern software can help you get more done with fewer people. For things you can’t automate, eliminate as much duplication as you can using Value Stream Mapping. You can reduce cost and improve delivery by speeding up motion – often small adjustments in flow can have a big impact.
8. Extra Processing
Many sales teams use many different tools to do their job – email, text messages, proposal tools, inventory management software, and many other systems.
The best way to eliminate waste here is to buy systems that connect to each other or connect the systems you have. Sales and marketing should not have to dual-enter information or deal with spreadsheets. Data re-entry cause time loss and errors. In fact, according to Harvard, bad data costs US businesses $3 trillion per year. Ouch. Not only is it a drag to ask your team to enter things twice or more, but it’s also probably costing you a lot of money.
Where to start?
Consider implementing a sales & marketing platform in your organization. Contact us to learn more or for recommendations.
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