Sales and Marketing with Lean Thinking

You have probably heard a lot about Lean Management and Lean Production. Now the term Lean Thinking is also cropping up again and again in the project management environment. What is it all about? Lean Thinking is an umbrella term that summarizes many types of Lean Management. Tom Alpers has dealt with the topic of lean thinking in sales and marketing and published a blog article about it on t2informatik. Below we summarize the article for you.
You see a woman from behind, looking at a large poster with notes and marketing terms.

If Lean, then holistic

Tom Alpers points out that in many companies Lean Transformation is only seen as a method in production, industry and manufacturing. But he is an advocate of the view that lean production can only work if other aspects of the company also internalize the lean idea, i.e., the lean concept. As an example, he cites marketing and sales, which need to be transformed just as much Lean as actual manufacturing. When lean fails in companies, Tom Alpers often attributes this to the fact that the transformation in the direction of lean has only taken place half-heartedly or partially - i.e. only in certain areas of the company.

Lean in marketing and sales

Lean means that the focus in sales and marketing must be on the customer. Companies must generate or organize continuous demand while standardizing their work processes. In addition, continuous improvement must become part of everyday processes. You are certainly thinking now of improving process durations or reducing costs. Equally, however, continuous improvement must also take place in accounting, human resources and marketing. Alpers cites customer partnerships as a factor in determining whether a company is truly Lean. He even goes so far as to say that a company that does not have customer partnerships cannot create customer value to its fullest extent.

Customer and partner

Sustainability of all processes and concepts is the mainstay of the Lean philosophy. Lean in sales means that it is not about making a one-time sale, but always about striving for a partnership. So you strive for a partnership relationship with all your customers, and that's what marketing is designed to do, of course. Mutual respect, honesty and the shared benefits of the partnership are paramount. Create a win-win situation in every contract. Imagine a customer wants to reduce IT costs and hires the company that does IT maintenance to help. A Lean contract could look like this: both companies work together to improve the processes (continuous improvement), so that in the end the waste of resources and material is reduced more and more. This then benefits both companies, because the cost reductions are felt on both sides. The IT provider in the example can partially pass on to the customer the cost reduction that results for him in maintenance. If the provider can reduce costs on the customer side, there is also an advantage for both.

Wertebasierter Vertrieb und Marketing

This is Tom Alpers talking about Lean Sales and Lean Marketing. Companies that correctly assess customer value can quickly experience a new approach to the customer. Many sales people intuitively follow this guiding principle, simply because they have realized that retaining customers is possible by creating value for the customer in question. Prices must also be based on the value created for the customer, otherwise they will be perceived as too expensive. Customers are increasingly recognizing that they are willing to pay a price for added value created. What costs are incurred on the entrepreneurial side is basically irrelevant to the customer.

Value creation for customers

Make yourself aware of the principle of Lean Thinking. Tom Alper recommends Womack and Jones' book on Lean Thinking here. By reading it, it is easier to understand what customer value actually means. Companies committed to Lean principles spend a lot of time getting to know the customer and their needs. Many different things can be considered valuable by customers. A few examples are: unique products, transformation of commodity services into tailor made services, high quality services or products, prestige, simple complete solutions to complex problems, cost reductions, reliability and many more. If you focus on this now in marketing and sales and are smart about it, you can offer your customers several of these value-added things in one product or service.

Matching prices to value

To offer so-called value-based prices, you need to be clear about the price of a similar product on the market that is available to the customer. You now know what price the customer pays elsewhere and what price he pays with you. You can now offer your product more expensively if it is associated with a clear added value for the customer. It is more convenient, easier, safer, less risky, etc. However, you can also try to offer a product that is comparable to the competition but cheaper. In both cases, the customer has good reasons to choose your product. Sounds simple enough? But for this pricing it is very important to know exactly what the customer needs and wants.
Author: IAPM internal 

Key words: Project management, Lean Management, Lean Thinking, Marketing, Sales

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