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Executing Company Strategy

by David Brock on October 19th, 2012

The sales organization is responsible for executing the company strategy with customers!  No if, or’s, or but’s!  But too often, I see sales people and managers failing to do this.  They focus on the same old things—the same customers, the same segments, the same products.  It’s natural human behavior, we sell what we are comfortable with to those customers we are comfortable with selling to. 

But company strategies are evolving.  If companies want to grow, the strategy is simple. 

  1. Develop and introduce new products to sell to our existing customers
  2. Sell our current products to new customers in new segments.—-“You mean we have to find new customers????!!!!  We actually have to prospect????!!!!” 
  3. Sell to new “personas” in our current customers or new customers (either current or new products)—-this is an area of huge fear with sales people.  “You mean we have to call on new customers and develop new relationships?”

Sale people don’t get to “vote” on the company’s strategy, it’s sales’ responsibility to execute it (Sure, sales people need training, tools and support to do this, but hopefully product marketing and marketing have provided these.)  Too often though, we don’t see this happening.  Sales people make their quotas selling what they have always sold to who they have always sold it to.  The strategies aren’t implemented, new products die, the company is not growing in the ways expected or where money is being invested.

I see sales people “rewarded” for hitting the number, but not executing the strategy.  This is a sales management problem—any sales person or any sales manager not executing the company strategy is doing the wrong thing.

It’s critical that management put the right metrics in place.  Sales people need not only to hit their numbers, but they need their performance to reflect the execution of the company strategy–balanced performance across product lines, across target customer segments.   If we need to acquire new customers, we need to measure people on this.  If we need to sell new products, we need to measure people on this. 

Are you executing your company’s strategies with what and who your are selling to?  If you aren’t you aren’t doing your job.

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  1. Spot on, Dave!
    You address the very common gap between strategy and execution and you hit the nail on the head with the examples you mention.
    What are the root causes of such a situation? A few thoughts from my perspective:
    Often, it starts with a CEO communicating his or her vision to shareholders and analysts. Such a vision, often poorly communicated inside the organization can only lead to a mediocre strategy. Then, the sales management and performance systems are not adjusted well enough to make sure that strategy execution gets measured the right way. From my view point, a general root cause is a lack of system thinking, a lack of understanding a selling system and its various elements to execute on a business strategy. Only adjusting a few elements and not considering the whole system and its mechanisms might lead in the wrong direction.
    Thanks for addressing this hot topic!

    • Great observations Tamara (as usual). The sales and maarketing organizations need to be totally connected with the strategies and priorities of the rest of the organization. Without this, none of the organization performs at the highest levels possible!

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