Posted by: kevinliebl | July 3, 2017

Henry Ford Had it Right…

On December 1st 1913, Henry Ford introduced the assembly line. Prior to this, every car was custom-built and the process was time-consuming and expensive. Once Henry Ford introduced the world to the efficiencies of the assembly line, the manufacturing process was never the same.


So, what does an assembly line have to do with the sales and marketing process? Everything… My grandfather sold corporate air conditioning units for Honeywell. He was a traveling salesman and literally knocked on doors. Every sale was unique and a custom process. Needless to say, it was terribly inefficient.

Marketing/Sales Automation

Today, the sales and marketing process for most successful B2B companies has become extremely efficient. The best companies use marketing automation (e.g., Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot) and sales automation ( There are a predictable number of steps, and if the process is followed, there is a predictable outcome. In other words, we have transitioned from building custom-made cars to an assembly line – and we are enjoying the efficiencies of doing so.

However, many companies forget that the process only works when there is an efficient velocity to the sales and marketing funnel. Much like an assembly line, the process breaks down if one group is not working efficiently and productively. If marketing is not moving “subscribers” to “Marketing Qualified Leads” (MQLs), then the Inside Sales Representatives (ISRs) will not have enough “Sales Leads” to work. If the ISRs are not properly following up with the Sales Leads, then there will not be enough Opportunities for the Account Representatives. If they Account Representatives are not properly following up with the Opportunities, then there will not be enough Closed Deals. Essentially, the modern sales and marketing process has become an assembly line. If the line breaks down, then product stops coming off the end.


Quality Control

Another reason the assembly line analogy is valuable, is that we should always be looking at the quality control of the product and reviewing fault-isolation. Just like a car, the resulting sale (or failure to close the deal) should be evaluated to determine what can be improved. If a car’s airbag does not deploy properly, the Quality Control department needs to understand if the issue is the airbag itself or the installation of the airbag unit. When a sales does not develop, we need to understand where in the line the process broke down. Was it a poor lead source? Did the ISR team properly follow up on the lead? Did the Account Representative miss an opportunity to convert the opportunity to a closed deal? If your sales and marketing process isn’t managed properly, it begins to resemble Lucy Ricardo’s candy job experience rather than Henry Ford’s auto line. We need to analyze the assembly line to understand what knobs to turn in order to improve overall quality of the process.


So, Henry Ford had it right. It is all about building an effective assembly line and then driving efficiency and quality of the output. How is your sales and marketing assembly line?



  1. I enjoyed your article. All elements of the process must be working together to generate the desired results.

  2. Great analogy to describe a sales/marketing assembly line. Each role in the assembly line must be held accountable in order to get the engine running.

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