A lot of companies place big bets on sales strategies that can’t fail. Smart leadership teams consistently get the ‘what,’ but they miss the ‘how.’ DSG has found that there are four main areas to focus on: strategy, messaging, process, and leadership.
I'm Tanner Mezel. I head business development and solution design for DSG. We've worked with Fortune 100 companies to start-ups. I find that a lot of companies place big bets on strategies that failed, and when I say strategy, I mean sales strategies. Sales strategies like the launch of a new product. They decide to move from selling products to selling solutions. It could be a strategic acquisition, and those strategies can't fail. When they fail it's painful. They lose the millions of dollars that were invested. They lose the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage that everyone was after in the first place. Some of their best talent leaves the company. Someone always gets blamed. People lose their jobs.
What we find is smart leadership teams consistently get the "what" and they miss the "how." They have the right idea, the big idea, but they miss the implementation. When I say the "how," I'm talking primarily at the sales execution level. Taking it from big idea down to the sales execution level of what to sale, how the sales actually implement the strategy in their day-to-day activities.
We find there's four areas that you have to focus on that are extremely connected: strategy, messaging, process, leadership. It's a new product, I'm a salesperson, what accounts do I prioritize. Which opportunities do I ignore. What individual roles do I target in those accounts, and how do I engage those individuals. That's strategy at a very practical level.
The strategy's right, then's the message. Do you actually tell the right story, communicate the right message in those accounts that you're prioritizing with those individuals that you targeted. When you're on the phone, or it's by email, or you're in their office, or having lunch, are you having the kind of dialogue that's taking the strategy and turning it into a compelling conversation that connects with your customer.
Strategy's right, message is right, is the process right? Are the steps and the roles and responsibilities defined? If you're in sales, finance, marketing, you're a sales manager, you're a partner, have we defined the roles and responsibilities across the organization. What is best practice in light of the strategy? What are the disciplines that you expect? What tools will enable this strategy? That's process and turning that into something that is very specific and very focused for the different roles in your organization.
The fourth area is leadership. We all know, you can nail the strategy, it can be compelling messaging, it can be the right, well-defined processes. If managers don't coach to that, if they don't reinforce that, if they don't have the right coaching conversations this week, this month, this quarter, if they don't ask the right questions, focus on the right metrics, there won't be broad-based adoption and execution of the strategy. There might be pockets of success, but it won't be across the entire organization.
There are some complexities to this. There is strategy, messaging, process, leadership. We find that when organizations take a step back and say, "How do I make this practical?" They can accelerate the implementation of the strategy. When we say practical, we mean playbooks. Take strategy and where to go and put it in a playbook. It clarifies accounts and opportunities to prioritize. Take the messaging and build a playbook on what to say. A guy on how to tell the story on a whiteboard, what to say during the phone meeting, how to lead the conversations. Take the process and build a playbook. A playbook on the specific role and responsibilities by stage. The tools, the best practices, make it clear, make it simple. Take what could be very complex and make it simple for your sales channels.
Then thirdly, take the idea of leadership and coaching and build a guide. Build a playbook for managers on how they will coach to your strategy, coach to your messaging, and coach to your processes. When organizations get it right, and they build the right playbooks, they train their organizations on how to use those playbooks in the real world, they reinforce those playbooks and the associated disciplines and responsibilities and metrics, they get there faster, and that's what they're after.
The end-game, obviously, just to go back to where we all started is, it's a big strategy that we want to not fail, and success looks like, the competitive advantage that we were after in the first place, is realized. Accelerated time to results, they want to reduce the risk that strategy is implemented, and ultimately you're usually after competitive advantage. There's some advantage you're trying to get by implementing the strategy, and you accelerate the time to results and reduce the risk that you'll get there.