This is definitely not referring to the pallet of old brochures gathering dust in the warehouse, although most businesses still seem to accumulate them.
I am referring to the sales leads, data bases, prospects, active conversations, existing customers and relationships, that together constitute the marketing inventory. When you think about these things as “Inventory”, an asset, you instinctively consider the means by which you generate a return, as that is what you do with assets.
The similarity of marketing inventory to physical inventory is that you can use the same sorts of measures for marketing inventory that you use for physical inventory, pretty much broken into the sorts of categories that Lean inventory management would require:
- “Flow” and Balance through the system of leads, prospects, active prospect, execute the sale, they are essentially “how many” questions.
- Conversion rates from one part of the system to another. Conversion trends are valuable pointers to both tactical success and emerging problems.
- Velocity through the system. As in physical inventory, the quicker the better, whilst maintaining flow and balance.
Considering the sales and marketing effort in this way encourages a sensible demarcation between the functions, and generally removes the argy-bargy that often happens. Importantly, it focuses attention on the cost and return analyses that enables resources to be used where they generate the best return. Having your expensive sales force out doing cold calls with a 1% hit rate now makes no sense, as the process has been completely disrupted by technology.