Quality management and control tools, concepts and methodologies like six sigma, total quality control, SPC, quality deployment, etc. are proven to be effective ways to improve the organizational process performances traditionally in manufacturing and industrial environment.
When it comes to applying these very same strategies to sales and marketing there is a big disconnect simply because sales and marketing people are not experts in these techniques, they have no experience and they are not even aware of the potential benefits.
Many people see these QC approaches as something that requires high technical expertise and complex process maps and calculations…
For example, the six sigma methodology is always associated with cutting down expenses, increasing product or service level of quality, as well as improving efficiency mainly within manufacturing and production facilities.
However the exact same concepts could be utilized in marketing and sales. This is true simply because both sales and marketing incorporate various processes, techniques and tactics which are measurable and manageable just like any other organizational process.
A business process is simply nothing more than an ongoing set of activities which are used over and over again regardless if they are defined and recognized as official and organized or they have been developed spontaneously based on experience and trial and error by sales and marketing teams.
Every time there is a set of activities – they create certain results or outcomes which can be easily tracked, measured and monitored and certainly compared with certain metrics, KPIs, targets and benchmarks.
Even as a newbie by simply measuring the results you can compare them among different periods like months or quarters and you can determine if your performances are improving or not. Once you have the data you can identify any improvements in your performance as well as any issues – and this is the main point – being able to identify issues and opportunities on time,
Now let's take a look at another quality improvement and productivity example – the DMAIC process. DMAIC is an ongoing quality management process for continuous improvement which actually means: define, measure, analyze, improve and control the business process. Now let’s see how this can be easily applied to your sales and marketing processes:
Define the issue, opportunity or problem and the associated set of activities: Identify the challenge as well as the current practice or set of activities, whether or not you are analyzing the whole sales or marketing process or perhaps you are dealing with just one portion of the process like lead generation. Simply by figuring out and undoubtedly identifying the process which creates the defined challenge, you can make sure the issue is legitimate, manageable and crucial for the business. Next you can create a plan about how to collect the required information and data to track the process performance continuously and organize and allocate the required resources to this initiative,
Measure is about tracking and monitoring your sales and marketing performance: Evaluate the actions as well as the outcomes so you and your team are aware of how the existing process actually works (keep this step as simple as possible because you can go into more details at anytime – just focus on the key steps for now). In order to be able to achieve this you need good quality data which represents the actual marketing and sales performance – this approach must be data-driven and fact-based so you are confident you are dealing with the real issues and making informed decisions and changes in your business.
Analyze is about evaluating the data, metrics and KPIs – examine the information with regard to different variations within the outcomes and the actions which usually create all of these outcomes and additionally look for and identify the real causes of those results. What / who is responsible for this variation in the results? When this is done for the first time it will require a good team work, brainstorming, analysis and evaluation. The good news is that once you have this reporting and monitoring evaluation system in place it becomes routine process and it can be fully automated so it doesn’t take any time.
Improve is about acting on the analysis and conclusions, making the right decisions and implementing them – Improve the process by way of building a good test, identify the initial assumptions and test it again by going back and forth between the process and the metrics. Once you are satisfied with how your reporting is organized (it really represents the way you do business) you can start working on identifying potential areas for improvement and make the required changes in the process.
Control is about making sure the set of defined activities are in control which means there are no variations and surprises but you are able to manage and control the outcomes within a certain predictable range – Manage the process to really help make the change long lasting. It does not matter if the improvement or change is small or big – once you have defined a better way of doing certain activities and steps in the process – document them and incorporate them into your regular business practices.
As a conclusion, there is no right or wrong way of incorporating this continuous improvement approach to your business, marketing and sales process.
You simply need to get started working on this:
- organize the collection of data,
- define the major steps in your process and
- bring your team together to make sure everyone is on the same page
There are many different ways to organize your sales and marketing metrics and KPIs reports and Excel is one of the most effective application to help you do this professionally like the excel dashboard templates and tools designed for business professionals which allow you to simply enter your data and your sales and marketing dashboard reports are automatically created without wasting any time and without any required Excel or technical skills.