What happens when you get sales fast and easy?
Traditional strategic planning methodology is all screwed up.
First, it is woefully inadequate in terms of creating unique competitive advantage. The tools to define how one organization is different from their competition in a remarkable way are not provided to strategy developers.
In fact the question is never asked. The conversation is replete with how to gain a market advantage but it never effectively addresses how an organization can be the ONLY one that does what it does.
Second, traditional planning typically is consumed with formulating the direction an organization should take and doesn't address adequately how to execute on the tactics you need to get there.
Hours and hours of time is spent developing SWOTS and analyzing trends to land on the "perfect" strategy often leaving only a meagre morsel of time to determine how to make it live "in the trenches".
A new strategy creation process is necessary; one that places the emphasis on plan execution and is content to get strategic direction "just about right".
In my experience a strategy "built to execute" has a short planning horizon - a 24 month view. And it uses top line revenue as the simple and well understood growth metric.
The idea is to keep the term of your plan short to be able to quickly respond to unforeseen events and to keep daily execution activities in your face every moment.
A 5-year plan does little to motivate one to "keep their feet moving"; if you don't achieve what you have to in year 1 you can hope to do it in year 4. The hockey stick lives on!
A plan consisting of 24 periods of 30 days each, on the other hand, puts the appropriate pressure on what one does TODAY with little tolerance for procrastination and over-analysis.
My principle of "fast and easy" is critical to ensuring your strategic game plan lives within the 24- month period and delivers the expected revenue results.
Fast and easy means targeting client groups that:
1. Can be sold quickly; segments you can get to FAST without building a new distribution channel network. Adding new channels consumes precious time in your 24- month plan period without generating additional revenue, at the expense of paying attention to other clients who can provide added revenue more easily within the 24-month period.
And look close to home. Explore your immediate territory before trying to exploit distant ones unless sales channels are already in place and high value clients have been qualified and ready to give you their business NOW. Dominate and penetrate your "Fast" markets before you wander afar.
2. Requires a short sales cycle. Where closing a sale can occur relatively quickly and revenue realized soon thereafter. An opportunity requiring a 12-month sales cycle won't be terribly productive when you only have less than half the plan period left to enjoy the revenue. Work with clients who will give you at least 18 months of revenue if you want to hit your revenue targets.
Avoid clients who decide to go the RFP route. Responding to the request and waiting for a decision will gobble up precious time you don't have. The formal sales process is a time consumer; focus on clients who are willing to deal you their business based on trust and past success with you.
Define your high value clients who have shown their loyalty to you; look closely for outstanding needs and unfulfilled produce applications. These clients will not require significant convincing if you have worked with them effectively in the past, providing them with solutions proven to be critical to their business.
3. Represent a proven source of quality referrals. Again, a short planning period requires closing as many high value deals as possible which generally means getting to deal closure without a lengthy sales preamble. High quality referrals should mean that your brand comes recommended and you can get to solution presentation quickly.
Effective execution in a highly volatile environment requires a combination of short term and long term effort.
A 24-month focus on "fast and easy" will generate the revenue you need to be here to witness the longer term.