Is Your Business Ready for 2012?

By Maria Baseggio, President, Sage Insights

At this time of year, executives focus on two key actions:
1) Achieving your 2011 financial plan for orders, revenue, and profit
2) Finalizing a strategic plan that enables achievement of 2012 desired growth targets

For 2011. the clock is ticking, leaving you very little time to reach the end zone. Either you have a game plan to score that touchdown or you’re trying to move close enough to at least get a field goal. Regardless, right now you need to secure a strong finish for 2011 and initiate plans for a successful 2012.

To succeed in 2012, you need everyone in your company to get behind the game plan right away as an active and supportive player. Make sure your strategic plan doesn’t become shelfware that only those in the corporate offices review. Without question, your strategic plan touches every organization in your company – so make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the strategy and is committed to achieving the goals.

How Do You Accomplish That?

With effective communications throughout your business and a solid execution plan. Unfortunately, although everyone knows he or she needs a strategic plan, I’ve seen companies miss the mark on the communication and execution – even though these two criteria can enable your strategic plan to succeed, or they can cause it to implode. Here’s why…

INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS generate awareness of your company’s goals and get everyone’s “buy-in” to support the plan. Achieving “plan” is not the outcome of only one person’s or one organization’s actions, and it’s not the sole responsibility of your sales team. It truly takes everyone in each organization understanding the end goal and giving his or her full support to reach that goal.

Motivate your entire team and build a sense of pride among employees by sharing the strategic plan at whatever level of detail is needed to engage them in successful execution. Help them realize that everyone has an impact on sales and revenue at some level. Have them establish a personal performance objective that’s directly linked to supporting the company’s goals.

A SOLID EXECUTION PLAN is essential. Right actions don’t just happen; they require someone to provide direction and set timeframes. Identify someone in the appropriate organizations as the driver/owner of the actions necessary to achieve the plan. Tie these to timelines for completion and milestones that track progress along the way.

Expect challenges to these timelines, and be prepared to make appropriate adjustments. However, be sure to hold your team accountable for achieving the plan – even if it’s based on mutually agreed upon modifications to timelines and/or deliverables. Without accountability, teams seldom achieve plans.

Have You Considered the Following in Your 2012 Strategic Plan?

  • Is your plan clear and ready to communicate throughout your company?
    • Reach out to each organization early in your fiscal year to build support for the strategic plan.
    • Communicate the key contributions needed to achieve the plan.
  • Are your target markets well defined?
    • Refine “profiling” of your targets to position your sales organization for attaining a higher win ratio.
    • Define accounts clearly to support more focused and directed marketing initiatives.
  • Does your sales structure adequately cover your target market(s)?
    • Consider reaching a larger market through partnerships – either strategic alliances and/or channel partners.
  • How effectively does your sales compensation plan align with your strategy?
    • Provide a greater incentive for sales reps to sell the strategic products and/or services that drive your growth strategy – not just to sell anything in your solutions portfolio.

Success Follows Implementation, Measuring Progress, and Accountability

Remember…achieving your financial targets is not the sole responsibility of your sales or operations organizations. The cycle of interdependency among various organizations affects success – or the lack of it. What comes first – the chicken or the egg?

  • Portfolio management teams with responsibility for bringing new products and/or services to market are key contributors to your strategic plan. Timelines missed here have a ripple effect on the rest of your plan.
  • Sales teams need the details on your portfolio of services and/or products, including a competitive analysis, to achieve their sales targets.
  • Marketing needs to support sales by generating demand through effective awareness campaigns, events, and lead-generation programs; and marketing is a key participant in any new product or service introduction.
  • Operations need to be updated on plans for new products and/or services as well as the sales forecast to ensure they have the scalability to meet demand without compromising quality.

The link among portfolio management, marketing, sales, and operations is clear. Implement a process for these organizations to measure progress on attaining your objectives. Teams focus on what’s measured. Without measurable accountability, too much time slips away before it becomes apparent that the plan is no longer attainable.

In reality, creating the strategic plan is less than half the required effort. The hardest part may be getting everyone in your company behind the plan and ensuring that all the required deliverables are met on time and on budget.

Bottom line – don’t just build a strategic plan…execute it effectively!

Elements of Success

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