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.
During this Year’s 2018 SD Manufacturer’s Summit, I had the privilege of delivering a presentation on Artificial Intelligence. Since my session was video-heavy, I thought I’d provide links to the videos I used and some background on them.
AI comes in many forms from computers learning how to do things to interacting. Here’s an example of an AI engine learning how to walk:
AI bots are also learning how to express emotion and interact with people:
Frankly this robot creeps me out – I don’t think I will ever be up for letting a robot nurse take care of me in the hospital! Examples like this are pretty far-out and unlikely to see real use in manufacturing anytime soon.
However, AI will become an increasing part of sales in manufacturing. Below I’ve included 4 examples of AI in practice today.
4 practical Uses for AI
Artificial Intelligence isn’t just for futurists looking at creating physical robots. It can also be used in very practical ways to help sales teams do more. Below I’ve included four examples of AI in use today. There are countless other uses for AI, but these examples are applicable to manufacturing today.
Chatbots are becoming far less intrusive and much more helpful. Chatbots can be used on your website, service/support phone system, and taking sales calls. Here’s an example of a website chatbot that fields questions then engages your team:
Sales Activity Data Mining & Notifications
AI is extremely useful in combing through huge amounts of data and finding trends and helping people to take action. Flywheel uses data mining to analyze customer purchasing data & activity volume to notify salespeople to take action:
AI can take the hassle out of mundane tasks like scheduling meetings & follow up. Here’s an example of an AI engine that takes care of the entire meeting booking process:
Customer Health Monitoring
AI engines are very efficient at watching data and then providing insight when things are changing. An example of this is customer health monitoring. Flywheel watches customer purchasing trends and changes the customer health based on activity:
Where is AI going?
AI will do more and more mundane tasks for you. In this incredible video, Google’s AI engine books a haircut with a human:
Will AI bots take over the world?
We don’t think so! At this point AI can solve very specific problems, but AI bots aren’t generally as intelligent as one might think. Here’s a video of to chatbots talking to illustrate the point:
We’ve been getting a lot of demo requests for our brand spanking new mobile app, but we’ve been keeping it under wraps.
Until now. Here’s a sneak peek at the brand new Flywheel Mobile:
Here are some things we’ve accomplished with Flywheel Mobile:
Helpful home screen.
We’ve designed a clean home screen that gives you access to notifications, a quick list of customers/leads, and a sales map. No more clicking a bunch of times to get the obvious things.
In the past, if you were mobile it was tough to keep track of what you need to do to make a difference each day. Flywheel Mobile uses push notifications to let you know when you need to call a customer. No more digging through the CRM to figure it out.
Fast access to customer dashboards.
We added a direct link to the customer health dashboard. With one tap you can see activity history, sales forecasting information, and prior order history from your phone or tablet.
Flywheel Mobile has the ability to show dashboard charts full screen and do some filtering on the fly.
Automated call logging.
Yep, that’s right, we are killing call logging drudgery.
On our Android app, both incoming and outgoing calls get automatically logged against CRM contacts (it won’t copy personal calls into CRM, unless you enter your Grandma in CRM as a contact).
In iOS, all outgoing calls launched from Flywheel are logged. Sadly Apple doesn’t allow apps to automatically log incoming calls. Boo. We’ve asked them to change their tune, we’ll keep you updated.
Can I see?
You bet. We’re giving Flywheel Mobile to beta customers, and we’d be happy to show you a demo. Drop us a line to learn more.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned the past 10 years selling and servicing CRM for customers, it’s that most salespeople pretty much hate CRM. They hate it because it doesn’t help them do the job they were hired for – sell products and serve customers.
Instead, it forces them to enter endless data – calls, meetings, follow up tasks, updating leads/opportunities, sales forecasts and the list goes on. The problem is none of this helps them. It just burns time.
Fortunately, two trends will finally change things:
CRM is finally going truly mobile. I’m not the old-fashioned database-style scrolling through records. I’m talking about heads-up notifications and actionable information that helps them do their job. Modern phones also have the capability to automate call logging/follow up and watch for next steps. This is already happening in small ways but will continue to accelerate.
The bottom line is today’s sales professional is rarely pecking away on a keyboard at a desk. They need their phone to be their sales assistant. Information must be at their fingertips – available without cumbersome text searching. We believe that mobile-first sales tools are the only future for CRM software.
Instead of typing searches and emails, a wave of newcomers—“the next billion,” the tech industry calls them—is avoiding text, using voice activation and communicating with images.
Data Science & AI
Artificial Intelligence is no longer just in Back to the Future. New data science technology turns data into intelligence that can be used to serve customers well. We believe data science and artificial intelligence will change how salespeople serve customers. Gone are the days of “digging for deals”. The new world will provide salespeople with data-driven notifications that can detect when the right time is to reach to customers and make a difference.
AI can even be a helpful assistant to help you get things done. Here’s some recent work Google has been doing:
How Flywheel Helps
At Flywheel, we’re dedicated to giving mobile and data-driven technology to the manufacturing sales professional. Flywheel today is already taking advantage of both tools, but they are a shadow of what is possible. We believe we already have the best out-of-the-box tool on the market today for manufacturers, but so much more is possible.
If you’d like to learn more about why we are on a mission to End CRM drudgery, drop us a line!