At Owlstone we manufacture complex instrumentation, with lots of parts, and lots of people involved at each step in the process. We have a file of information called a ‘manufacturing traveller’ that starts empty and at the end of the manufacturing line, is full of documentation and test results. At each step in the build process, different members of the team will complete some tests, add the results and pass the traveller on to the next team member. Each has their own responsibility and is trying to answer a specific question, but the integrated output answers a whole set of questions that no one person can answer individually. I think there is a parallel between the manufacture of physical goods and the manufacture of sales.
A sales person in the field, tends to have the clearest understanding of the customer problem and value of the solution. However, this doesn’t always make it downstream, with high fidelity, to those who generate marketing collateral. Equally the marketing team will be generating significant insight into the sales messages that work through testing of ad copy, landing pages, email copy , offers etc. A sales and marketing ‘traveller file’ that gets passed between the team, could help connect different parts of the cycle. For a new product or application the infield sales team will be trying to understand the customer pain and decide if there is a ‘rough fit’ with your offering. They are populating the traveller with information on the problem, the value of a solution, hot buttons, prospective customers, client interviews etc. This is the analogous to the exploration stage in the lean start-up methodology. When it comes to validation, other members of the team will start to get involved; the traveller gets passed on to marketing who start to put together some collateral and run test campaigns. The goal is to achieve product-market fit and as a by product the traveller is now populated with solid empirical data – the inklings of working campaigns and channels, persuasion assets that resonate. The collected traveller is to able to answer questions that no one person can answer on their own.