Monday, April 5, 2021

Why Lean in Sales?

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Why indeed? Isn’t Lean a factory thing?

Well, no…Lean is a business system comprising the entire enterprise.

The Toyota Business System, for example, addresses the three critical “loops”:
  1. Design
  2. Make
  3. Sell
Guess which one is considered most important? Sell – because it’s closest to the customer.

Sales are about information. What features does the customer want? At what price point? What promotions does he respond to? How does she want to receive her products or service?

How was our last promotion perceived? And so on...

Production (Operations), usually our most valuable & expensive asset, runs on information. We only make what our information tells us to make.

If our information is wonky, our most valuable asset is unlikely to operate in its sweet spot. Result: overproduction, inventory and all the associated ills.

So how do we introduce Lean in Sales?

Here are some questions to get you started:
  1. What is value in Sales? (Who are our internal & external customers and what do they need from us?)

  2. What is waste?

  3. What are some core mental models in our Sales department?

  4. What are our current processes for delivering this value?
  5. How aligned are they to delivering the value our customers expect?

  6. How do we improve them?
Lean is harder outside the factory – because our product & processes are typically invisible.

If you make scrap in a factory, everyone can see it. “Hey, we made a whole pile of junk yesterday…”

In business processes, by contrast, you can’t see the scrap. A good forecast & a bad forecast look identical…

On the plus side, sales folks are usually smart & creative. If you introduce the fundamentals with finesse, they run with them.

All for now.


PS For more, check out The Remedy – Bringing Lean Out of the Factory to Transform the Entire Organization.

In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Back to Basics - What is Value?
You Want to Get More Done? Do Less…
Strategy Deployment & Language
Where Lean Has Gone Wrong & What to Do About It, Part 2

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