December 22, 2008

Applying manufacturing principles to sales/marketing

Traditionally sales and marketing as been considered an art form.  It was thought that great salespeople are born, not made.  That marketing is inspiration, not analysis. 


However, views have changed, with managers adopting an increasingly scientific approach in both areas. 


That approach has brought with it more; discipline, structure, process and planning – all of which are absolutely necessary in the face of increasing competition and costs. 


However, when sales and marketing are compared to other business functions, such as; production, or accounting, there is still some way to go.


Compare it to manufacturing, for example, where the search for the best way began with starting with Frederick Taylor's time-and-motion studies in the early part of the last century, and culminating in today's Total Quality Management and Just-in-Time methodologies.


But, what if you viewed Marketing/Sales as a process to manufacture sales (including repeat sales)?  After all, every business has a sales production system of some sort in the form of your existing Marketing and Sales activities.


But does it represent a true seamless process – one that can be measured accurately and managed in terms of its effectiveness.  It is systematic (i.e. proactive, consistent, predictable, and reliable) and optimized?


Consider how sales/marketing is like manufacturing?   Both are processes that take raw

material, transform it, and output a desired good. Specifically, Marketing/Sales takes leads or suspects (raw material) and moves it through a number of processes/stages generate a sales and ultimately a loyal customer.


Marketing/Sales is further like manufacturing in that the process can be managed

as a set of work areas/processes, with raw material, work-in-progress (WIP), and finished goods.   Just as in manufacturing, each Marketing/Sales work cell has scrap rates, yields, quality measures, and latencies.


So why stop there  - apply other manufacturing and process engineering principles directly to Marketing/Sales, including; — including process mapping and re-engineering, constraint analysis, continuous improvement, and lean thinking.

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