So much of the writing about lean focuses on waste reduction. That’s great stuff, we want to make sure we aren’t doing unnecessary work or producing waste. But, at least for marketing and sales professionals, that’s not the real reason to start your lean journey. (I know I have some lean professionals groaning, but hang in there).
The real reason we want to focus on lean principles is they are the cornerstone to accelerating revenue growth—and isn’t that what we’re really about?
Lean drives great focus and clarity on “Who is our customer,” and “What do they value?” Viciously focusing on these drives more revenue, faster. Lets explore them:
- The first question we ask in applying lean principles is “Who is our customer?” The process of answering this means, we have to understand the problems we are the best in the world at solving and who has those problems? As a result, we focus all our marketing and sales efforts only on reaching those customers. We aren’t diverted, chasing after customers who don’t fit that sweet spot, who don’t have the problems we solve, who won’t produce revenue. These are the customers who will respond to our marketing and sales programs. Since they have the problems we are the best at solving, access is less of an issue, they are more likely to be eager to talk to us and engage us. The quality of our engagement process is much better. The quality of our pipelines is dramatically higher–our win rates skyrocket.
- The second key question lean drives is “What do they value?” This refocuses our engagement process, it aligns us with their buying process, wasting no time on things that don’t create value for the customer. Since we aren’t diverted by things that are meaningless to the customer, every conversation and meeting focuses on value and helping the customer accelerate their ability to realize that value. Together, we focus on solving the customers’ problems, we help them accelerate their buying process, consequently accelerating revenue generation.
Now, I’ve been pretty glib describing this. It’s not easy to get to this point. It requires deep understanding of what we do well—not fooling ourselves, but being brutally honest. It requires deep understanding of markets and customers to determine this sweet spot. It commitment on the part of everyone in the organization in serving those ideal customers. It requires focus and sharp execution. Overlay this with the fact the world and are customers are constantly changing, so we’re moving forward and our customers are moving forward.
So I don’t want to paint an idealized or naive picture. None of this is easy, but the closer we can get to doing these things, then our marketing and sales efforts are much more effective and impactful. Our ability to generate more revenue much faster, skyrockets.
As marketing and sales professionals, we are constantly struggling with building the revenue generation engine. So to me, the reason sales and marketing professionals should be interested in implementing lean principles is they drive more revenue, faster than anything else we can do!
But there’s more! Look at the derivative implications of this strategy. By not wasting time on prospects outside our sweet spot, by wasting time, resource and money on things that don’t create value for the customer, we start reducing waste. Resource utilization skyrockets, as does the return on our investments in sales and marketing.
As a by product of leveraging lean principles to drive revenue growth, we are also eliminating waste. Bottom line–we’ve now started improving overall profitability! Who wouldn’t be interested in this.
All of this hangs together in such a simple framework. It is hard for me to understand why we wouldn’t immediately start to apply lean principles, focusing first on accelerating revenue growth.
Finally, as you start your efforts, remember lean is a journey–it’s about constantly learning, improving , refining, adjusting.