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Structure of Lean in Sales

When Applying Lean to Sales and Marketing many companies try to use traditional approaches and use the typical segmentation strategy. I like to organize the Structure of Lean in sales through the path of SDCA, PDCA and EDCA.

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Structure of Lean in Sales

  1. 1. Structure of Lean in Sales
  2. 2. When talking to organizations about apply Lean to Sales and Marketing, most organizations are looking for 1 thing and 1 thing only – Streamline Sales – Work on the process - Were Process people – We want to make things Better, Faster, Cheaper. The top value stream is how many Lean Consultant or trainers would approach the sales and marketing perspective. They would apply it on a typical project by project basis to such marketing activities as sales, promotion and distribu- tion. Extending the waste and cost cutting focus of Lean efforts to marketing in an attempt to make these activities more efficient. Everyone knows the undisciplined and creative activities that define marketing offer a rich treasure trove of cost savings when made more disciplined and structured. But what about making these activities more value enhancing? Can Lean grow market share or top-line revenues? Map Value Stream
  3. 3. Others take a Product Development focus. That design thinking style. Maybe even Lean 3P, Lean Startup, or a chap- ter from IDEO. Many have argued Lean is about incremental improvement. It does not allow for breakthrough think- ing. I agree that SDCA and PDCA and even the continuous mindset may not deliver breakthrough by themselves. However, like most things you start one step at a time. The culture of Innovation starts with culture of continuous im- provement. To start with breakthrough thinking is very difficult and typically not successful. You cannot just turn it on. So starting with PDCA and a continuous improvement can be a successful way, to create the little “i” culture. Ramping it up and truly doing breakthrough innovation, the big ‘I” is when you must engage and understand your customer/market extremely well. Seems to be well thought approach but it has its place. Design Thinking
  4. 4. But to do all these things, what do we need? We need metrics, DATA - it is the process way of doing things…Now that we have big data, we have all the quantitative data we need and want. But what about the qualitative… And who best to collect that DATA than our salespeople. We want Pull in Lean Sales – But is it operations pulling or the Cus- tomer and where is the Sales Guy? This is how I think Lean is perceived by the sales people. Value Stream Map your process, Collect data for improvement, And we are just not sure who is pulling and who is pushing and the customer involvement. We only know what happens without him; the customer that is.
  5. 5. In most Lean thinking we talk about Kaizen or Continuous improvement which is exemplified in PDCA or as it has been called the Shewart or Deming Cycle. Ohno, the guru of the Toyota Production System came along and says “there is no improvement without a standard.” So, in essence, SDCA was created. I like to think of PDCA in spirals of increasing knowledge of the system that converge on the ultimate goal, each cy- cle closer than the previous. This approach is based on the belief that our knowledge and skills are limited, but im- proving. Especially at the start of a project, key information may not be known; the PDCA provides feedback to jus- tify our guesses (hypotheses) and increase our knowledge. As we go around the PDCA cycle, we improve our knowledge relationship with the customer to a point that they either continue down the funnel in quicker and tighter iterations. Repeated use of PDCA makes it possible to improve the quality of the communication, the methodology itself, and the results in more real time.
  6. 6. Recently, as innovation, Design thinking have become the buzz word of the day, Eric Ries created the Lean Startup. It was based on Build, Measure Learn. It is his idea that you develop product and get it into the hands of the customer at its most minimum level and leave the customer to decide the value and expand on that. I can argue that in a few instances and in my thinking and what I learned from a Toyota guru in Europe, Graham Hill, that there was similar thinking within Toyota called Explore-Do-Check Act. I like that a bit better as I believe it offers a little more sub- stance and guidance versus the Build-Measure-Learn thinking.
  7. 7. I base my Lean Thinking on these 3 principles. Standardization, Improvement and Exploration. PDCA is the glue. Without that mindset- it is difficult to traverse between the 3 and I think all successful companies have a mixture of all three. Some may be more innovative… Apple, some may be more Standard, Microsoft but having a process in place for each, even the innovation side is what makes Lean successful.
  8. 8. This basic matrix lets allows us to have a hi-level conversation without trying to view value streams or product fami- lies and such. Lets just view sales through existing or non-existing customers and their needs. Many have already done this, just not in Lean Terms. Simple segmentation like this can go a long way in bringing clarity around applying Lean. Your Lean Thinkers, Champions will start associating the thinking of Sales to Lean. Using this matrix add Lean thinking to the concept. Nothing changes, except we now assign a Lean Process to achieving the outcomes in each individual box. Think about the core being the standard work (SDCA) of your sales strategy. PDCA providing the bridge between the core (SDCA) and the edge (EDCA). Applying Lean Thinking in Sales
  9. 9. I introduce Lean as a Sales, Growth strategy through the processes of SDCA, PDCA and EDCA. This three step pro- cess for using Lean can be defined this way: 1. Standard Work (SDCA): How do we align our people to focus on our key strengths? We must have clear non- negotiables or Clarity around who we are and what we do. We need to define core business and put the majority of company resources into the core until it achieves its full potential. Profitable companies grow profitably. If you are not making money, do not look for growth to correct problems. The odds are against you. 2. Continuous Improvement: How do we make sure we keep improving and adapting? Closed-loop learning – PDCA. Most big ideas are made up of a series of successful smaller ideas driven by a simple and repeatable business model or SDCA. This is where the Little I of improvement resides. 3. New Markets and Products (EDCA): View it as more of Design Type thinking that allows for a collaborative learning cycle with a customer. Companies need innovative practices. We look to the fringes of our markets where chaos ex- ists. It is where development and the Big I of innovation (EDCA) occur, and the Lean Startup principles apply. Applying Lean Thinking in Sales
  10. 10. There are a lot of different core strategies but they all center on a repeatable business model. Standards are the most fundamental and misunderstood concept needed for growth. Your core values are the way you go about what you do and how you do it. It is what your customer understands and experiences. Standards create the WOW in your business. When an employee steps out of the box to do something remarkable, it is a result of having the clarification that this is what are standards (values) would encourage us to do. Of course if you believe, which I do, that you must have a profitable and well-differentiated core most of your re- sources will be allocated to SDCA. This would be the pattern found in established companies. It can be used within Onboarding processes or even used effectively in those Rs: Re-Sell, Re-Gain, Retain, Renew, Refer. In this model we deal so often with existing customers. However within those customers are new customers. Today’s purchase deci- sions are being made with an average of 5.4 people needing to sign off. This should not be looked at as restrictive but further opportunity to build into a customer base. Applying Lean Thinking in Sales
  11. 11. What does a Lean Startup look like? The Lean Startup will look something like this. The cycle of EDCA is basically similar to Lean Startup and that is where your resources are until you prove product/market fit. After doing that, you will not standardize your product immediately, instead you will conduct PDCA till a standard market and customer be- comes well defined. Applying Lean Thinking in Sales
  12. 12. The greatest growth opportunities are on the edges of the use of our product/services. We must make a concentrated effort to identify and participate in relevant knowledge flows on the edge (EDCA). In the book The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion, the authors discuss the relationship between the core and the edge. In the excerpt below, think about the core being the standard work (SDCA) of your growth strategy. PDCA provides the bridge between the core (SDCA) and the edge (EDCA). When we envision tomorrow’s best product or service being used in our customer’s future it creates far-reaching possibilities. Our most successful sales people are already thinking in these terms. It is this type of thinking of your customer’s business, the edges of their business that we must strive to achieve through the methods of SDCA, PDCA and EDCA. Edges (EDCA) and cores (SDCA) need each other. Unless customers become part of the core, they never fully access our core capabilities. The core also needs innovation from the edge to continue refreshing and regenerating itself. In business terms, innovating companies need resources to scale growth and mature companies need new growth plat- forms to compensate for increasing competitive pressures. PDCA is the bridge between the two. Applying Lean Thinking in Sales
  13. 13. If you can build a culture of PDCA, a culture of learning, growth becomes part of everyone’s job. It is this aspect I believe that separates good companies from great companies. Use Lean as your growth engine. Do something BIG!

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  • DickBos

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    Dec. 22, 2020

When Applying Lean to Sales and Marketing many companies try to use traditional approaches and use the typical segmentation strategy. I like to organize the Structure of Lean in sales through the path of SDCA, PDCA and EDCA.


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