Lean Sales and Marketing is a method to make you more effective than your competitors. Lean is something that some people want to do, to beat their competitors.
It is not something you have to do.
Lean Sales and Marketing is essentially a knowledge transfer system; it’s a training system on how to define knowledge gaps and close them.
Lean Sales and Marketing takes an entirely different perspective on knowledge transfer. It is not the perspective of educating the customer; it is from the perspective of learning from the customer, understanding how your customer uses and benefits from your product or service.
Lean Sales and Marketing approach is to leave your customer be the professor, the Sensei, who will take you through a certain number of exercises (their decision making steps), the customer leads.
Lean Sales and Marketing takes responsibility for demand. They are always in search for the next hassle map of the customer where tomorrow’s demand exists.
Lean Sales and Marketing is targeted to certain kinds of organizations who actually enjoy learning. Who are committed to continuous improvement as opposed to just doing things and running things as they are.
Lean Sales and Marketing is incredibly powerful.
Sample chapter of the Lean Marketing House
View the Marketing with Lean Book Series
Six Step Lean Marketing Process
Lean Marketing can be thought of as a strategic methodology to streamline and automate the marketing processes in order to improve efficiencies through waste elimination. Many Lean companies strive to eliminate, not minimize all waste in the process. Most think of this as only a manufacturing or administrative function. This rule can apply when implementing Lean marketing as well. In Lean marketing a company should only have two components: An introduction to a new lead and the acceptance of an order. All other components would be considered wasteful and are candidates for elimination. That may be a little to pie in the sky but I do not believe that marketing should not be off the hook from eliminating waste.
Here is a simple process to get started: The Six Step Process to Lean Marketing: How do you handle the critical elements of your Marketing or Value Stream and reduce waste in a lean flow?
- Create a Value Stream Map based on your Marketing Flow.
- Analyze each process and start asking these questions until you have eliminated all waste from the process:
- Why are we doing this process?
- What value/purpose does it serve the customer?
- How can we eliminate all waste from this process?
- Map new simplified process
- Now determine the constraint in your Marketing Flow
- Identify the system’s constraint.
- Exploit the system’s constraint.
- Subordinate everything else to the above decision.
- Elevate the system’s constraint.
- If a constraint is broken (that is, relieved or improved), go back to Step 1. However, don’t allow inertia to become a constraint.
- Implement and Test new process using the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle.
- Simplify your Marketing Flow
- Eliminate all wasted activities that the customer sees little value in.
- Create dashboard with input/output measurements showing daily, weekly, monthly and yearly progress
- Find the Value Stream ROI and Resource Allocation
- Create the Future Value Stream Map
- Feedback develop visual metrics showing progress of the company’s lean continuous improvement program.
There has been very good books written on Lean and Six Sigma Marketing but they deal primarily with channel management. I feel that a true Lean approach is what is needed in marketing. Traditional Lean practitioners equate Lean to waste reduction and problem solving (See Above). New practitioners of Lean emphasize knowledge and strength building. More information: A New Approach to Lean – Robert Fritz. and Strength–Based Lean and Six Sigma.
I equate this to the fundamental difference between SOAR and SWOT. SWOT is the age-old concept of defining our Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. SOAR is a strength-based approach. SOAR allows you to lead with the positive side of the issues and many times you will often discover more. The SOAR framework is outlined by Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results. There may not seem like a huge game-changer but what I recommend is that you try it and see the difference it makes in your session.
More information: Overcoming Sales Resistance with SOAR.
Recommended Book: The Thin Book of SOAR; Building Strengths-Based Strategy
I have found recent books providing a nice bridge between Lean and Sales & Marketing.
A few of them that I have read:
All of these emphasize the iterative process of continuous improvement. They are very Lean like in their descriptions of the marketing processes promoting knowledge building and pull as a way of creating flow. They also highlight the interconnectedness of people and the collaborative aspect that exist in business today.
This new approach moves us away from a company assuming it has more knowledge than a customer. That expert status type thinking – “We know more.” It moves us away from the problem-solution type approach to one of joint discovery and learning. Trying to force your solution through a sales pipeline does not work in a collaborative type decision-making process. (More info:Lean Sales and Marketing: Outcome Based Mapping)
The question becomes if we are not solving problems for customers and providing solutions, what is our purpose?