I wonder just how many businesses are currently operating under the misapprehension that their sales strategy is the same as their greater business strategy. You could take that one step further and assess of those sales strategies, how many were engineered solely with CPIX and revenue growth requirements in mind only.

This is a classic mistake of many established businesses – we take last years’ performance (financial) and add 10% without really investigating what the true market opportunity is, or what our competitive advantage is, or indeed are we on track towards our vision?

It’s clear: Your sales plan ≠ your business strategy.

So what should we be doing instead?

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welch.

  • The key here is that your vision is articulated. Strategy starts with a vision and a set of well-defined values clearly expressed across the entire company. Do you have this? Or are your vision and values just words in an annual report and a poster on the wall? Your vision is what Simon Sinek calls your ‘Why’.
  • Your business strategy cannot simply be last year’s financials plus 10%. It’s a road map to the achievement of your vision. Joel Barker says it best: “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.”
  • Having a sales target is not the same as having a strategy.  Your sales targets are part of your business plan, which is in turn derived from your business strategy. Sales targets cannot be seen in isolation.
  • There is a place for strategic planning at departmental level – where the action takes place. Far too often, our corporate strategy does not allow for this. Instead, we see ‘leaders’ who set strategy and ‘managers’ who apply the processes and policies of the organization.
    Mintzberg asks:  “Who wants a leader that cannot manage or a manager that cannot lead”
  • Getting our managers to create strategic plans to achieve departmental objectives is the way forward for 21st century business. Creating leaders at all levels will only be great for the business.
  • Recruit strategically, based on your values and the individual’s ability to learn. Then commit to your people for the long-term towards a defined vision – your business can only thrive. Sacrificing the people when the going gets tough slows down the journey towards the vision.

The Bigger Picture

It’s clear that 21st century leaders need to be looking at their businesses holistically. A Sales Plan does not a Business Strategy make. The two are instrinsically connected, building blocks on top of your underlying vision and values, supported by your people.