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
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
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
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
Read previous article in this series.
Introduction - Thrive While Others Hunker Down
+ 2009 - Planning for Success
+ Recommended Reading
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Nothing To Fear...
here to view the full text of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's
Inauguration Speech of 1933, and be inspired!
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.
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Customer Centricity wishes you health, joy, and prosperity at this
holiday season and for 2009!
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