As the end of the year comes into sight, you’re probably starting to look ahead to the new year with your planning and budgeting activities. It’s helpful to look back on the year to determine what went well, could have gone better, and what do you need to do different next year to achieve your goals. However, before you make a huge change in your strategy, our research suggests that sales leaders change their strategies too frequently.
Together with SellingPower, we surveyed approximately 200 B2B sales professionals, including salespeople, frontline sales managers, sales trainers, and sales leaders. Less than half of the frontline sales reps and managers agreed that their company had a clear sales strategy, and over 60% of “strongly agreed” that sales leaders changed direction too often causing frustration and confusion, and negatively affected results.
Before you radically change your strategy, ask yourself these critical questions:
- Have I clearly communicated the current strategy to my people and the rationale behind the strategy?
- Do my people really know what they need to do differently to execute the strategy?
- Have I properly equipped my people with the skills and tools to execute the strategy confidently?
- Are my frontline managers bought into the strategy, and do they know what they need to do to execute your strategy in the field?
- Have I connected the dots across all of our strategic initiatives, so they make sense?
Many organizations struggle to answer these questions affirmatively because they underestimate the time and effort needed for proper execution, and then make piecemeal changes that don’t always make sense to those expected to execute.
Re-Igniting Your Strategy
Unless something dramatic and sudden has changed in your market or company, you may be better served by re-igniting your strategy as opposed to admitting failure and starting over. Here are some ideas to help you do that:
- Develop a proper communication plan that involves your frontline managers to cascade your message down and across your organization.
- Be sure the communication plan includes not only the what, but the why. When people understand the why, they are much more likely to buy-in, or bring to your attention opportunities to make your strategy better.
- Tie your sales strategy to the critical “on the job” behaviors your people must exhibit to differentiate and win in a competitive market. This helps you focus your training and enablement efforts, and gives your frontline managers better direction for coaching.
- Inspect what you expect by surveying your frontline salespeople to determine how well they’ve absorbed the what and the why, and how well their sales manager has reinforced the message. If there are shortcomings, then recommunicate and retest.
- Pull all pieces of the strategy together through a capstone event that requires reps and managers to think critically about applying the strategy in the market. We do these through competitive simulations to create comprehensive learning experiences that reps and managers enjoy and that really drive home the learning.