Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #136

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Introduction
 

Welcome to the second in our series of articles aimed at providing pragmatic approaches to thrive in the current economy while others hunker down.

While it is important to know what is going on (and the media continues to willingly dole out the doom and gloom), it is crucial to keep our heads up and our eyes peeled for the opportunities that will present themselves to those who are ready.

As stated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1933 in the midst of the Great Depression: "This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

What is needed at this time is action. In that spirit we share the series' second article, by Brent Larlee, on Planning for Success!

If you'd like to ensure that you maintain a high-level of market presence and customer loyalty, give us a call. We'd be happy to discuss our highly pragmatic programs that result in improving top-line growth, your customers' experience and the operational performance of your firm.

2009 - Planning For Success
Part 2 of 2
by Brent Larlee, WaiHaka Strategies LLC

This is the second installment of a two-part article examining some approaches for assessing your Sales Effectiveness, as a means of planning for success in 2009. In the previous issue, we highlighted Business Strategy and Analysis / Projection. This article concludes with a discussion of Structural Alignment, Processes, and Execution.

Alignment of Sales Structure with Strategy & Desired Results: It is critical to align the structure of your front line teams with the business strategy and desired results. If you don't do this, it is somewhat like suggesting that you need a "military" to fight a war but not thinking through what type of war needs to be waged and understanding the differences that an air force, ground force, or naval force would bring to implementing the strategy. You will most likely need a combination of specialties when it comes to the marketing and sale of your product, but the percentage combination of these specialties is the real question.

  • Use the metrics of the number of leads that are needed to yield a certain number of qualified prospects and closed deals to determine the structure and volume of your marketing efforts.

  • Use the metrics of the number of leads that need to be managed to determine the number of inside sales resources.

  • Use the metrics of the average size deal, length of sales cycle, and overall 2009 desired results to determine how many outside sales resources are needed to handle the volume of active opportunities.

  • Determine if you can have inside sales resources carry certain opportunities all the way through closure, thereby eliminating certain types of opportunities from the need of an outside sales resource or account manager.

  • Determine what role partners, value added resellers (VARs, and your other distribution channels play in the sale of your product? Depending on this role, who needs to manage them?

  • Identify whether certain types of clients warrant different sales & buying processes, and if so, what type of resources they need to manage the process.

Marketing, Sales & Support Processes: In almost every company, there are separate departments for these functions. However, almost every client is looking for some consistency in how they are treated during the evaluation, purchasing, and customer service phases of their experience. This consistency boils down into a couple of core issues:

  • Expectation setting. Does the promise of features, functionality and benefits from marketing align with how the product / service is explained by the sales team? Does the selling process align with a prospect's evaluation and buying process? Does the customer service from the company deliver the support that was promised during the sales process?

  • Smooth hand-offs. Is the left hand talking to the right hand, or does the client have to explain what they want to every representative of the company who contacts them? Do the sales people know what the prospect wants based on how they expressed interest (marketing activity) in the product? Does the customer service team know how the client plans to use the product and any specific idiosyncrasies with their needs?

During the planning for your 2009 results, you need to determine if you have the right processes in place to support the client. If there is not proper expectation setting and a smooth hand-off process between departments, you run risk of generating interest that you can't fulfill, selling products that you can't support, and working really hard for mediocre results.

Details Lie In Execution: Strategy, analysis, alignment, and processes are nothing without proper execution. In fact, we have worked with companies that have all of these elements well defined but still have trouble meeting their desired results. As they say, the "devil is in the details" and in the case of getting results in business, these details are most often how a plan is executed, not the plan itself. Many more plans fail due to poor execution than the quality of the plan.

Plans, strategies, and processes are executed by PEOPLE.

  • Do your people have the proper aptitude and personality to do their jobs? If you can't get all of the insight you need by direct interaction, then look into one of the many personality assessment tests available to you. As one of my colleagues insightfully told me, "they won't guarantee an employee is successful, but the results will tell you which people are likely to fail due to a mismatch between the requirements of the position and their abilities and desires."

  • Do your people have the right skills and experience? There are some skills and experience that you need to hire to get a base line level of performance, but there are others that you can train. Make sure you know the difference, and create hiring criteria that ensures getting new employees that can do the work. Next, create training programs to improve or enhance the skills that accelerate high level performance.

  • Do your people know what to do? In every company, there are high level performers who will figure it out on their own and achieve great results. Unfortunately, there is a large group of people in the middle of the bell curve that need more direction even if they have the right aptitude, personality, skills, and experience. Create clear job descriptions, and document your processes and best practices so people know what to do when confronted with a situation. Effective training also plays a big role in differentiating between success and failure.

Robust economic times often mask inferior companies and products who benefit from a "rising tide lifts all ships" phenomenon in business. Rest assured that 2009 will not be one of those economic times. There will be big winners and big losers, and the winners will be the companies that plan for success and then execute their plans.

If you would like to learn more about how an external objective assessment might answer some of these questions, please contact us directly.

Read previous article in this series.

 

Contents

+ Introduction - Thrive While Others Hunker Down

+ 2009 - Planning for Success

+ Recommended Reading

 


 


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Nothing To Fear...
Click here to view the full text of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Inauguration Speech of 1933, and be inspired!

Recommended Reading
We recommend another Entrepreneur Magazine article, When the Selling Gets Tough, the Tough Get Smart by Mark Stevens. Mr. Stevens acknowledges that things can be tougher in a down economy, but only if you let them. Ignore the statistics and just keep doing the things you do.

More Satisfied Customers
Check out what some recent customers had to say about their experiences with Customer Centricity:

"Customer Centricity has been instrumental in making the Sophos customer survey program a reality. From concept to launch, the Customer Centricity team guided us quickly and expertly through the process. Their years of customer experience were instrumental in analyzing critical customer feedback allowing us to take swift and decisive action in a very short period of time. Our organization highly recommends Customer Centricity and will continue to leverage their expertise in our customer-facing programs."

Dick Faulkner
VP Sales & Operations, Americas
Sophos, Inc.

Happy Holidays
Customer Centricity wishes you health, joy, and prosperity at this holiday season and for 2009!


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