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 production, 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 the 8 Wastes of Lean Sales & Marketing?
1 – Defects
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.
2 – Overproduction
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.
3 – Waiting
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 sale or marketing to do non-selling activities.
5 – Transportation
Digging through email, 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.
6 – Inventory
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.
7 – Motion
Help your team become more productive by automating everything you can:
“Automation is cost cutting by tightening the corners and not cutting them.”
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?
Flywheel offers a complimentary Lean Sales & Marketing Consultation to find out if we can eliminate waste with our sales & marketing platform. Contact us to set up a time – we can cover the high-level overview in 60 minutes with you. Click below to book a time!
Did you know that applying Lean to sales and marketing can deliver an even more significant return on investment than production?
While Lean Manufacturing Methodology used by nearly 70% of manufacturers today to reduce cost and improve efficiency, less than 20% have applied it to sales & marketing.
Why don’t lean philosophies get applied to sales/marketing more often?
Sales and marketing are communication driven, and until recently sales and marketing technology hasn’t been adapted to lean, in other words, it was difficult. That is changing now, making lean sales and marketing possible for any size manufacturer to adapt quickly.
Getting started with Lean Sales & Marketing
1 – Identify your goals and growth plans as a company, as well as the biggest obstacles in the way. Goals are key for later on in the process. Here is a handy document you can download to get to the key questions.
2 – Think of Sales & Marketing regarding processes, and break down activities into processes. In marketing, this is often called a “Funnel.” Funnels can be applied both to opportunities, prospects, and existing customer cross and upselling opportunities. Either way, think of how you interact with customers in terms of processes, what is working, what’s broken.
3 – Look for areas of waste. Look for processes that aren’t efficient, are run too many times, or are constantly error-ridden. An excellent way to do this is by creating a Value Stream Map. If you aren’t familiar with value stream mapping, here is a good guide. If you’d like some help, we recommend talking with your local Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to assist with this. In South Dakota (our home state) our local MEP SD Manufacturing Technology Solutions is very experienced in doing value stream maps.
4 – Grab low-hanging fruit. Areas of waste become apparent during the value stream map process. Find the areas of waste that are the easiest to eliminate, then get rid of them by improving your process and applying automation tools like Flywheel.
5 – Rinse, repeat. Once you have a win on the board, go after the next level areas of waste. Usually, this is done in 2-3 cycles, but it depends on the complexity of your process and opportunities to improve them.
We’re here to help.
Flywheel performs complimentary Lean Sales & Marketing consultations to efficiently walk you through the above process and identify high-level areas of improvement.
Like this article? Check out our posts on common wastes in sales and marketing among manufacturers.