Welcome back to ‘Actions the Best Sales Leaders are Executing Now for Next Year’. In Part 1, we covered insights for getting off to a quick start in the new year and creating focus on next year’s sales strategy. As discussed in Part 1, communication played a big role in helping to create focus around the strategy. In Part 2, communication is just as vital as we focus on cascading the sales strategy through the organization and connecting that sales strategy to compensation.

How some executives feel about their strategies

Before we dive in, let’s first get a feel for how some executives feel about their strategies according to a 2014 survey by PwC and Strategy&:

  • 42% of executives say their companies aren’t aligned behind their strategy, that some parts of the organization don’t understand or resist it
  • 42% of executives are worried that their company’s strategy asks people to work on too many, and often conflicting, priorities
  • 55% of executives believe that their companies aren’t focused on executing their strategies
  • 33% of executives expressed concern that their company’s strategy is not clear enough about how we create unique value for our customers
Be transparent and clearly connect

Cascading the Sales Strategy is an Action the Best Sales Leaders are Executing NowKeeping that survey data in mind, strategy does not succeed unless it’s clearly communicated and cascaded from the top of the organization, down through management and to each individual sales rep. The most important factor in communicating and cascading a new sales strategy is to be transparent and clearly connect what the strategy means to the role of every single person in the sales organization. At a high level, a good strategy should be simple and clear enough that everyone in the sales organization can state its purpose in a few sentences. However, even if you have a clear strategy by this definition, when you get down to individual roles within the sales organization, it can still be very unclear what each person should be doing differently to support successful execution of the new strategy.

As a sales leader, focus first on communicating to your management team and front line sales reps how each role will impact and support the sales strategy. When connecting with someone on how they will impact the sales strategy, you should show them exactly where (sales process or sales cycle) their interaction (customer or management of sales resources) is important for the new strategy. Identify the specific actions/activities they should be doing at each impact point to support the execution of the strategy. As you roll the strategy out, remember that it’s never too late to go back and discuss this with members of your team who may still not understand how their role fits into the new strategy. But starting now will certainly help prevent any confusion upon roll out.

Compensation plays an important part in motivating behavior

Cascading the Sales Strategy is an Action the Best Sales Leaders are Executing NowNext, focus on how each role will be compensated with the new sales strategy. Every large strategy shift comes with optimistic hopes that employees are going to make the changes required to ensure success of the strategy. While hope is always important, the reality of sales roles is that compensation plays an important part in motivating behavior. As we mentioned before, it’s extremely important to have a clear strategy. When connecting a strategy to something as specific as compensation, a vague strategy does not work. From there, you want to be sure to align the objectives in the strategy with the objectives of the compensation plan to drive the behaviors for success you have identified. Be very specific here so they know exactly which behaviors they need to start and which behaviors they need to stop.

Ultimately, the reason to connect strategy to compensation is to motivate change. People like new strategies because they see new strategies as an opportunity to realize better sales results. Excitement will wane quickly if your people do not see results from the new strategy. Results require a change in day to day behavior or activity of your sales teams so remember to be transparent, lead with the areas of impact, then the actions or activities and finally relate it to their compensation. Tune in next time as we wrap up the series with removing barriers for execution and adapting strategy execution to a changing business environment!