70% of organizations fail to operationalize new growth strategies. They have great ideas but underestimate the degree of change management and enablement required to drive sustainable sales transformation. At the most foundational level, the sales channels must be equipped with the “how”. How to engage the right accounts and call points. How to tell your story. How to challenge the customer’s thinking. How to provide insight in customer conversations. How to influence the buying process. How managers should coach and lead.
DSG is engaged by organizations that are making big changes to drive big growth. That change usually comes in the form of a new strategy, a strategy that they want to accelerate implementation of in their field and across their sales channels. A strategy change could be a new product. It could be a new message. It could be new branding. It could be a partnership or an acquisition, but there's been a significant shift and the reality is we now need to go operationalize that change.
The situation that organizations are dealing with is, and we all know that it's common knowledge, 70% of strategies fail. 70% of the best ideas never get fully operationalized and turn into execution at the field level. We find it’s helpful for organizational leaders when they're at the front end of the strategy change and they're seeking ways to accelerate implementation of that strategy to really think through three questions. There's the “what,” the “why” and the “how.” Let's use a real example:
We have a client in healthcare IT space. Their president and their head of sales and their head of marketing as they look at this strategy here's some of the realities. It's an enterprise strategy. So for this organization there's been a merger. There's now a comprehensive message. It's a complete solutions strategy. We've got to sell now with partners in a way that we've never sold with them before. Those are some of the elements of their “what.” Their “what” is we've got to sell the CIOs. We've got to position enterprise solution. We've got to sell with partners and we have a sales channel that's going to have to evolve.
Their “why” is really the business outcomes that they're after. The “why” is all about the market share gains, it's about the solution revenue that's got to be attained. It's about specific sales productivity targets in connection with that strategy.
Finally there's the “how”. The “how” is getting down to the practical level of sales enablement and saying what content's going to be needed. What tools and technology. What methodology, what coaching, what training. Those are the elements of “how.” So, there are two factors that leadership teams have to grapple with. One is change. What is the degree of change that will be required for the results to be realized for the strategy to be implemented. The second factor is enablement. How much enablement will be required so the team is equipped with the right level of content, tools, technology, coaching, reinforcement?
The situations that we see, on the one hand the organization will invest pretty heavily in enablement, but they underestimate the degree of change. And because they underestimate the degree of change they only get so far. The other situation we see is the leadership team will have realized it's a huge change. This is a big change management effort but they will under invest in enablement. There won't be enough of that content, tools, training for this to be practical at the sales execution level. In that situation as well the results are clearly going to be limited.
The “big idea” here is accelerating strategy implementation which requires a comprehensive approach to sales enablement. That comprehensive approach starts with strategy. Strategy is all about where to go. Which opportunities should I be going after. Which accounts should I be prioritizing. Who should I be selling into in those accounts. Is this about selling to the CIO? What should I be selling to that CIO? What is the solution? What are the components?
Secondly it's about messaging. It's about “what to say.” What do I say in that first conversation on the phone? What do I say when I send the follow up email? What do I say when I'm in their office and I'm at the whiteboard and I'm drawing a model and I'm trying to have that interactive discussion that's compelling and it's clear and it's consistent across the team?
Next is process. “What to do.” So let's the healthcare IT example as an enterprise sell. What is the enterprise selling process? It's typically going to require a team selling model because you're selling to clinicians, you're selling to business buyers, you might be selling to a chief medical officer, you might be selling to the VP of nursing. But there are going to be a number of audiences that you're engaging that require you to go to market as a team, so what is that team selling process? What are those defined roles and responsibilities? What are the best practices? What are the planning tools that will align the team around that enterprise selling process?
Finally it's leadership. “How to coach.” So it's an enterprise strategy. We have effective enterprise level messaging. We have an enterprise sales process, people know where to go. How will managers be equipped to coach to and reinforce that process? What meetings will they lead this week, this month, this quarter that are going to drive the behaviors that are going to be required for that strategy to come to fruition. When organizations get it right they certainly address all four of these areas. The “where to go,” the “what to say,” and the “what to do,” and the “how to coach,” but they come at it from a change management perspective. They realize this is going to be a process that we're going to go through.
One step at a time we're going to win over the organization. We're going to motivate the troops. We're going to get everyone aligned. When organizations are seeking to get started the first thing we do is decide how mature are we against the four areas. Some organizations will feel like we've got the strategy nailed, so when you look at our messaging and our process, big gaps. Other organizations will look at leadership and coaching and say we really have not thought through how first line managers are going to insure that this strategy gets implemented at a day to day practical level through their coaching conversations and how they reinforce the strategy at the most practical basic level in terms of what a sales team requires against the four areas. It's play books, it's training and it's reinforcement.
When say playbooks we just mean content. We mean tools that a salesperson can access from an iPad, they can pull it up on their web browser, they could open up a printed playbook. But they would have content on “where to go.” They would have messaging on “what to say” in that conversation. They would have specifics on the process and how to apply it. Managers would have a playbook on “how to coach” and lead their teams.
Training is going to be customized. Training and development based on the content, based on the playbooks and how do I do that in my day to day world. It could be face to face training and you're in a workshop. It could be virtual training. It could be video modules. But you're equipping the organization to execute the strategy. Thirdly, how do we reinforce over time? How do we continue to make updates to the content and keep it fresh over time and make adjustments?
The reality is any organization that embarks on this journey realizes quickly that every few months the content will get dated and has to be kept fresh. There are a number of different paths that different organizations can take in terms of next steps. One of those paths is for DSG to lead a mini assessment and come on site and help an organization build their strategy implementation plan in collaboration with a core team of stakeholders. Literally bringing marketing and sales and products and services and other thought leaders into a room and in a one day session we're building that strategy implementation plan together.
We're defining sales enablement requirements. We're deciding what playbooks, what training, what reinforcement will help us get there faster. Will help us ensure that we get there at all. And that the strategy that we've all spent so much time defining turns into the results that we were all excited about in the first place and we get to the “why.”