Misalignment

 

SBI found that organizations grew shareholder value by 28% when corporate and sales strategies were aligned.  Conversely, companies that failed to align their strategies only grew by 19%. Over the past few months, we’ve covered misalignment on a limited basis.  I’d like to cover it more in depth today.

 

In addition to the misalignment, SBI identified 5 other reasons why companies end up with the wrong sales strategies.  Learn about all 6 in our annual research report, “How to Make Your Number in 2015.”

 

Download the free research report here and learn why many companies fail at sales strategy.

 

In the report, SBI estimates that 16% of companies struggle with misalignment between sales and corporate strategy. Some common signs of misalignment are:

 

  • Sales team is in conflict with other functions of the organization.
  • Sales cycles are longer than expected due to conflicting priorities.
  • The internal sale is harder than the external sale.
  • Comp programs are driving undesirable or wrong behaviors.
  • Sales reps are unable to clearly articulate what the corporate strategy is.
  • Marketing and Sales efforts don’t align, and sometimes cause internal disputes.
  • Customers and prospects communicate that your company is too hard to deal with. 

     

In a misaligned environment, conflict is king and stakeholders feel they are stuck in the crosshairs. As a result, undo stress is placed upon all parties.  Moreover, misalignment will naturally hurt your bottom line. Losing out on deals and/or losing existing customers are two of the most common byproducts of misalignment.  Additionally, you can often lose key employees who get tired of the misaligned structure. They’ll opt for an organization in which it isn’t quite so frustrating to exist.

 

Every discovery in business should inspire action. If you’ve discovered that your sales strategy is not aligned, you should take steps to improve it. Instead of speculating with other executives, we recommend speaking with those in the trenches. This includes sales reps and customers. After all, these two parties are the ones that truly drive your business.

 

  1. Sales Rep Survey – Identify the following measures:
    • Can your sales force clearly articulate the corporate strategy?
    • Do rep activities align to corporate strategy, i.e., focus on markets, verticals, new products or other initiatives?
    • Do reps believe their compensation aligns to corporate strategy?
    • Are you incenting for desired behaviors that align to corporate strategy?

     

  1. Customer Interviews and Win-Loss Reviews:
    • Is the customer feeling the pain between corporate and sales misalignment?
    • Do customers feel working with your firm is difficult or cumbersome?
    • Are there efficiencies to be found in your sales process?
    • Do customers agree that your sales efforts accurately support your value proposition? 

       

Corporate strategy must drive sales strategy. Not the other way around. When a clear corporate strategy is in place, sales and marketing will follow suit.

 

However, I should offer a word of caution. It’s true that sales strategy and process should follow corporate strategy. You may also recall that SBI constantly talks about the importance of customers in the sales strategy. Therefore, sales process must follow both the customer and corporate strategy. This means the most effective organizations will have a corporate strategy that is strictly aligned with their core customers. If the company doesn’t align with customers, it will be difficult for the sales team to do so, and business will most certainly be lost.

 

In summary your action plan should be as follows:

 

  1. Identify if you have a problem with misalignment between your sales team and corporate strategy.
  2. Conduct surveys to get to the root of the problem.
  3. Assure that your organization is aligned both internally as well as with customers (!)
  4. Make the changes necessary given the findings of the survey. 

     

While corporate strategy for 2015 may be set, take time now to align with the customer and your sales team.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aaron Bartels

Helps clients solve the most difficult challenges standing in the way of making their number.
Learn more about Aaron Bartels >

He founded Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) with Greg Alexander and Mike Drapeau to help business to business (B2B) leaders make the number. The world’s most respected companies have put their trust in and hired SBI. SBI uses the benchmarking method to accelerate their rate of revenue growth. As an execution based firm, SBI drives field adoption and business results.

 

His clients describe him as a consultant who:

 

“Makes transformational impacts on me, my people and my business”

 

“Solves my most difficult problems that to date we have been unable to solve ourselves”

 

“Brings clarity to an environment of chaos”

 

“Has real world sales operations experience making him qualified to advise us on a variety of sales and marketing challenges”

 

“Is able to spot proven best practices that once implemented will make a material impact on my business”

 

“Constantly challenges status quo and compels us to act”

 

“Focuses on execution and driving change to stick in our environment”

 

“Makes good on his promises while enabling our business to realize his projected results”

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