Yesterday, I discussed why we must concentrate on the quality of the leads versus automation and increasing input (Lean Sales and Marketing approach to Productivity). Many organizations choose to spend most of their time and dollars on increasing the input, creating more opportunities more fresh bodies, instead of looking at their work in process. I have always believed that inventory is a bad thing, from my previous blog post, Work in Process is Wasteful even in Sales and Marketing. However, just as accountant looks at WIP as an asset so does marketing looks at WIP as a good sign in marketing. Flooding yourself with increased prospects is bad. WIP lowers productivity and does not create more business and even less of the right business. We end up doing all these things that may or may not be good for us. Have you noticed that you seem to be building specials or that sales are bringing you the off-beaten request? It is because your input variables are too high.
I am not going to discuss Voice of Customer and Voice of Market in this post but if you are inclined to learn search for VOC and VOM in the search box. A quick overview is contained in these posts, Lean Marketing listens to the Voice of the Vital Few and Can Voice of Customer deliver? I am going to assume that you recognize the importance of the two.
Special Bulletin: A Process for removing Waste in your Marketing
The next step is to institute SMED in your sales and marketing process. Many of us understand SMED as single minute exchange of dies. In manufacturing this tool allows us to increase the flexibility of manufacturing and decrease lot size. Traditional manufacturing increased productivity by manufacturing in large lot sizes. This way, we rid ourselves of costly changeovers and were able to have inventory on hand for production. When Lean manufacturing came along we changed all that. We were able to institute SMED and as a result our lot sizes went down, inventory in all forms, raw material, work in process and finished goods went down. And we are still arguing with accountants about productivity.
In Lean Sales and Marketing, we can do the same thing. If we consider service dominant thinking and understand the concepts of the job to be done. This will mean that our thoughts are not limited to our existing services and products. It is our ability to build a value proposition around the customer’s job to be done. When we start viewing the value proposition from the customer standpoint, we realize that our offerings also take a different perspective. We can now think how our products/services can be utilized (value in use) by our customer in the most effective way. Using a SMED style thinking we can bundle or unbundle our offerings depending upon the customer needs. In this way, our strengths become more recognizable and our actions clearer. Our product/service applications do not become limiting but rather the tweaks that are needed are much more specific and can be handled much more efficiently. And since we have done our homework, with the CTQs (Critical to Quality issue found in VOC and VOM) we know when to apply adjustments and more add-ons that will result in longer-term value for the customers and markets we serve.
A Lean marketing perspective is that we must create interchangeable features. We must be willing to unbundle everything that we do and re-bundle them in an efficient manner. Think of how car manufacturers, including Toyota, drove many customizations down to the dealer level. Think how the dealers have numerous items to bundle with the car. You can think of many others along this line; it is not uncommon. Bundled services and contextual pricing are very commonplace. Would you think about buying a sub-sandwich that you could not design?
Improving productivity in sales and marketing is not a matter of volume of inputs. It is a matter of offering quality outputs that pull your inputs. It is a matter of having a defined value proposition relative to the market that you are offering it to. It is creating a conversation with the customer and allowing them to customize the offering and as a result strengthen your value proposition.
Your products/service offering should evolve through market penetration. Your value proposition will strengthen and as a result your inputs will be easily more identified.