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Manufacturing Day 2022

1 MIN READ

Manufacturing Day is a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. It’s a celebration that provides an opportunity to showcase all that manufacturing has to offer, and what it means for our country, our economy, and the lives of millions of Americans.  This year for Manufacturing Day Cambridge had the privilege of hosting students from the Francis Howell school district. These students are individuals that are interested in pursuing a career in manufacturing or are intrigued by what options exist. They were able to take a tour of the plant, and engage with a few current Cambridge employees. Our team members shared their own career paths and what their experience has been like in the manufacturing industry.  Cambridge also had internal celebrations for Manufacturing Day. We made it into a week of celebration to show appreciation for our hardworking team. In true Cambridge style we celebrated with lots of food as well as some new shirts.  Manufacturing Day is a great way to engage the community and work on our goal of bringing glory and dignity to manufacturing. If ...

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What to expect on the journey to be SHARP Certified

3 MIN READ

Achieving SHARP certification (Safety and Health Recognition Program) is one of the most prestigious honors a small business can receive. SHARP recognizes small businesses that have used OSHA's consultation program and have shown they have operational excellence when it comes to safety.  Cambridge first heard of SHARP through MODOL and the Missouri On-Site Safety and Health Consultation. We are a culture that puts safety first so we became very interested in SHARP certification.  How Does a Business achieve SHARP certification? Obtaining SHARP certification is a serious undertaking that requires dedication from internal staff and an investment of time and resources to achieve success. To start, you can: - Request a consultation visit that involves a complete hazard identification survey by calling 573-522-SAFE or filling out an On-Site Application - Involve employees in the consultation process - Correct all hazards identified by the consultant - Implement and maintain a safety and health management system - Agree to notify your state Consultation Project Office before making any working changes or introducing new hazards into the workplace.    Planning for success means planning for obstacles When we decided to begin this journey, we knew it was not going to be accomplished quickly ...

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LEAN Sales Cycle - What are you doing to apply LEAN principles to your sales process?

3 MIN READ

Our Senior Leadership team recently returned from Japan where they were on an educational journey to bring back ideas from Japanese businesses that had been working on LEAN initiatives for many decades. Their trip included a visit to Lexus, the luxury car maker and part of the Toyota family of brands. As they were departing for their trip I asked that they solicit feedback from the Japanese companies regarding LEAN and its applications to sales organizations.

One might describe the Sales Cycle as the time it takes to obtain an interested prospect through a customer purchase order and finally through the ongoing post-purchase customer engagement. If you look at the Sales Cycle in 3 stages, you may find it easier to look for waste in the sales process. Waste will reveal itself in time, motion, over processing and/or wasted human potential of associates.

The Sales Cycle -3 Stages: Pre-Sale Activity / Direct Selling Activity / Post Sale Engagement Pre-Sale Activity
Building interest with prospects takes research, dedication, focus, creativity and a concise definition of value for one’s target audience. Marketing and Sales teams work closely to refine these target audiences and the messages that will drive desired customer response; typically outreach, raising their hand in some fashion for contact or more information. Eliminating waste from these processes can be accomplished through building a standardized approach to the various activities required to deliver in clear, simple language – Who is our target? What is our value proposition message? How will we communicate it internally & externally? How will we measure our success? Who is accountable for each pre-sale activity? What are the desired timeframes or deadlines? A clearly defined launch formula shortens the cycle. Compressing the time it takes to complete these pre-sale activities is LEAN applied to the sales cycle. Each delay, restart or off track adventure eats time and energy. What areas of your process can be leaned out? 

Direct Sales Engagements
The Sales Team has a prospect, whether obtained through the marketing engine or through direct sales customer prospecting. Are your sales team members capable of building instant rapport and interest? Do they have the skills necessary to do so? Were they measured in the hiring process or ongoing performance evaluations against a standard in order to predict their success in their role? Have they been educated on a definitive sales approach? Is leadership spending the right amount of time, watching, listening and coaching sales team members? Show me a sales person with a rich pipeline of business and I’ll bet money that they have done the hard work of preparation, outreach, communication, post visit follow up and continuous touches necessary to close deals. Direct selling without a process, a script, a consistent message, a consistent list of questions, a consistent approach to customer engagement will result in the absence of results. LEAN thinking applied here in the sales process is as applicable to sales professionals as it is to operational, manufacturing personnel. What standard work or best practices can you point to formally in the sales process that are evident across the sales team? 

Post Sale Engagement
Now that we’ve received a purchase order, what systems, processes or steps do you have in place to communicate with your customer? Do you have in place automated order confirmations detailing shipment dates from the factory? Confirmations of product shipments and anticipated arrivals to benefit the customer are a great way to communicate order status and shipment. Whether invoicing at time of purchase order or at shipment are those communication automated, manual, efficient, clear and understandable? Does your marketing team then continue to touch your customer with the correct frequency according to plan, to stay in front of the customer base with information that is relevant to your customer segment? Are there opportunities (waste) to streamline these, speed them up, to eliminate time and multiple touches. MRP systems and CRM systems offer solutions in automated workflows to eliminate time spent on these activities. LEAN and it’s application to the sales cycle is self-evident. Seeing waste in the process is certainly the hardest part of the journey. I am hopeful that this breakdown of the process might trigger thoughts for continuous improvement. I would love to hear about steps that you’ve taken in your own sales process to eliminate waste. Thank you for any insights you can share on your own journey that have helped you LEAN out you selling cycle.