It’s the age-old challenge in strategic planning – how do you close the gap between your strategy and implementation? Strategic planning is never linear, making execution complex. The profitability gap occurs when there is disconnect between the formulation of the strategy and execution of the same. There are numerous studies and surveys that validate the negative impact this disconnect can cause. Strategy formulation forms the core of any process and is vital to the success of sales enablement and the enterprise. A sound strategy inevitably facilitates a number of actions and desired outcomes.
There is often a major possibility that strategy is not communicated in a way that the sales force understands, so they fail to comprehend the effectiveness of the strategy, or why a particular action is required and how it would impact the final outcome. When the strategic plan is communicated clearly to all the sales representatives and the entire sales team, it provides a clear vision of the purpose and objectives of the enterprise. In order to successfully bridge the gap between strategy and implementation, it is crucial to have a sound strategy that is linked to the ultimate sales vision – where you want your sales force to reach at a given point of time. It is futuristic, but right strategies are built only with long-term perspectives and goals.
The vision then should get broken into mission statements that will act like the foundation to let your sales team and business soar and perform. It will give your sales team defined direction in terms of what they are expected to achieve. The sales mission then needs to get converted into an actionable go-to-market plan. The knowledge of the GTM plan spells out to the sales force how they are expected to reach their target customers and showcase as well as achieve the competitive advantage, which eventually results in exemplary performance. To do this effectively, it is therefore important to convert the GTM plan into simplified measurable tasks. That ensures better mapping of the progress and also ensures complete ownership of every aspect of the implementation process.
For each of these tasks, the next critical step is to ensure mapping of the available skilled manpower that has the domain expertise to perform the given job. It is well known that the top sales talent wins the game and any gaps in recruiting the best-suited sales representatives can negatively impact the sales strategy. Mapping manpower also provides clarity as to who is accountable for ensuring execution of initiatives, projects, and tasks. These domain specialists then drive the program by identifying the gaps and applying industry best practices – basically becoming a factor of the knowledge repository.
The next important step in bridging the gap is to set up the tools and systems in terms of reporting frameworks and dashboards to track the program health and progress. These give a full and fair view to all the stakeholders involved on how the sales force is progressing towards the final objective. Course corrections become easier with this visibility at every stage, instead of a large scale contingency plan to be deployed at a later stage. Lastly, it is important to set up a Business Management System (BMS) to frequently track your goal and how you are trending against that. BMS tools act as a great bridge between strategic planning and tactical implementation of practices, processes and procedures that are being used in the development, deployment and execution of the sales program. Effective collaboration also depends on effective progress monitoring mechanisms.
Finally, the most important aspect to ensure that the strategy does not fall apart in the implementation phase is the contingency plan. In case any of the above fails, Plan B is a must to have in order to ensure that success is not affected at any time. A good contingency plan looks at all critical business functions, and outlines methods to minimize failures in case things don’t go as per the initial plan.
To succeed in today’s competitive business environment, constant innovation and execution of new strategies are the pre-requisites. To bridge the gap between strategy and implementation, strategic alignment across all levels of the business needs to be built – it needs to be seen as an integrated piece and not two disjoint elements that work in parallel.
The author is Global CEO & Co-Founder, Denave.
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