The importance of strategy, and how to implement it, has grown dramatically over the past decade. But, according to McKinsey & Company, 70 percent of large, strategic initiatives don’t reach their stated goals. How can you avoid being part of that statistic? Hire a sales consulting firm with consultants that create and implement a strategy.
To create a strategy you can truly execute, both leaders and sales consultants have to be participants in creating and executing it. I also want to stress that while creating a strategy is important, in my experience, it’s the execution that matters most.
Sales consultants can be invaluable in creating strategy. Now, consultants that understand the value of execution are helping their clients implement the strategy as well. So the first thing to remember is to make sure you hire one that will stick with you and help you implement the strategy to completion. Once you have a consultant onboard, there are some steps you can take to make sure the partnership is productive and that you implement your strategy successfully.
Tactics for assessment and diagnosis
- Create a strategy of possibilities
- Get buy-in from key stakeholders
- Set benchmarks and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Tactics for implementation and execution
- Have meetings on a regular basis
- Show progress
Create a strategy of possibilities
The best strategists don’t know anything that your or I don’t also know. Instead, they consider myriad options and possibilities. They constantly ask themselves, “what if we did this? What if that happens?” Some of the best strategists I know think in this way—in terms of possibilities.
How can you think like this? Not surprisingly, one of the best things you can do (and Forbes agrees) is to read voraciously, from a variety of different sources. Doing that is a kind of cross-pollination that will keep you think creatively. You can also get employees and teams that don’t’ normally work together to do so. Their variety in experience can often yield new ideas.
Get buy-in from key stakeholders.
While leadership and sales consultants typically set the strategy, your employees have to be a part of the implementation plan. This inclusion does several things. It creates transparency and clarity so that everyone is on the same page. And, it creates a deeper sense of ownership and helps people feel more connected to the work. This ownership also helps your employees understand their roles and how they will affect certain parts of the strategy. Getting buy-in can be a challenge. Entrepreneur gives a helpful outline of how you can create buy-in from your employees. I’ve also outlined some steps below that have worked for my customers in the past.
- Write down the strategic objectives and verbally explain the strategy multiple times
- Assign tasks to specific teams
- Create a system of following up with projects
- Listen to those who are resistant, but don’t allow that resistance to persist
- Know and accept when you need to change
Set benchmarks and KPIs, and know the difference.
Setting benchmarks requires careful planning and there are several different types of benchmarking. The important aspect to remember here is that you use benchmarks to compare the performance (usually of your organization or business) to others. You can also set benchmarks against industry standards. Your sales consultant should be well versed in how to create benchmarks and how to track them. Also, when you develop them, make sure they’re plainly written and not full of jargon or buzz words.
KPIs on the other hand, are decision-making tools to help you gauge your employees’ performance in relation to strategic goals. They chart whether an individual, project, team, business unit, or entire company is on track to achieve its objectives.
Have meetings on a regular basis.
I included this tactic on my list because while it may seem obvious, I’ve seen too many organizations and sales leaders forget to do this. The goal here is not to have more meetings, but more effective meetings. How often you meet will depend on how robust your strategy and objectives are. I suggest meeting weekly, or bi-weekly at a minimum.
Here are some tactics to get the most out of your meetings:
- Hold them offsite
- Don’t allow open computers
- Have a dedicated meeting manager (this can change) who keeps folks on task
- Have folks who dial-in actually lead the meeting
- Have senior leaders attend as many meetings as possible, even those outside their direct reports
I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole here, so check out how to conduct productive meetings to learn more.
Old school consultants don’t do this because it falls out of the creation phase, so to speak. But, as industry experts are learning, execution is more important than strategy.
This tactic isn’t as easy as it may sound. That’s because consultants don’t often receive training on how to show progress. Then consider if there isn’t any progress to show. That can be a tough conversation. If you find yourself in that spot, don’t shy away from discussing the lack of progress. That conversation can lead to insights and help develop the trust between sales consultants and business leaders.
To demonstrate progress in tangible, shareable ways, first look to your benchmarks. Once you have these nailed down, set a work back schedule that has smaller objectives tied to the larger benchmark. Outlining these objectives, that ladder up to larger goals will deepened on whether you’ve gotten buy-in. Your employees will help in this scheduling and creating objectives—don’t leave them out of the process.
Numerous tools can help show progress. For example, you can create a weekly progress tracker that your employees can fill out. You can also get project management software to track and show progress in near real-tine.
A successful formula
This combination of creating a solid strategy and pairing with an execution plan will make everyone in your organization an active stakeholder in achieving your goals. Part and parcel of this success is finding a sales consulting firm that understands the value of this formula. At Altus, we practice this kind of partnership where we create and execute your strategic vision. Your success is our success, and we will work with you at every stage of a strategy rollout.