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    The Dance Between Strategy and Sales Execution

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    Many companies are going through their annual planning process. As the business unit head, you and your team have put in hundreds of hours building your marketing plans, analyzing trends, developing key tactics and building and revising slide decks.

    The team responds and builds a bottom-up forecast and a tactic by tactic business plan. You have dry run after dry run.

    Then it’s show time. You and your team have a one to a two-day meeting with global executives.

    Global leadership must anoint your plans. You and your team are challenged, pushed and prodded. Global leadership goes back and forth with country management. Global leadership pushes you to increase your sales numbers and reduce expenses, and you have to dance.

    You know the annual dance

    In the end, you are asked for stretched sales numbers, fewer programs than you pitched for and you go back to the drawing board to make revisions.

    It doesn’t matter whether you are starting, midway through or finished the process. The nice thing is when the process is done you can get back to business. Hopefully, all your scars will heal.

    The focus shifts back to finishing off your year strong, hitting your year-end sales and managing expenses as per your objectives.

    Why is there so much time allocated to building effective marketing plans and so little time spent on sales execution plans?
    Steven Rosen

    Here’s the rub

    Multinational companies have well-defined brand planning processes. Brand teams find the process rigorous and time-consuming. In fact, careers are made in the annual brand presentations. The problem is, far less time is spent on planning for sales execution than on building marketing plans.

    I remember learning that sales results are a multiplier of how good the plan is multiplied by how good the execution is.

    Sales Results = (Quality of the plan) X (Effectiveness of sales execution)

    • A 9/10 plan with 4/10 execution yields an outcome of 36
    • Where a 6/10 plan with 8/10 execution yields an outcome of 48

    Why is there so much time allocated to building effective marketing plans and so little time spent on sales execution plans?

    Business unit heads tell me that their biggest concern is whether their sales team is effectively executing the plan.

    The also tell me they hate the number of hours they spend during the year tracking and extrapolating sales, revising estimates and explaining deviations.

    You know the monthly dance!

    What if I told you “It doesn’t have to be this way!”
    I want to share with you a better way that will remove the dance that you do month after month.

    I call it Strategic Business Execution (SBE) planning.

    SBE is the process that comes after your annual targets and budgets are finalized but before you start the next year. I help companies meticulously plan the execution of their strategic marketing plans.

    5 Steps to Excellence in Sales Execution

    Step 1: Define Your Critical Success Factors (CSF’s)

    First of all, have both your sales and marketing team define and agree on what they each need to do exceptionally well to achieve their sales objectives. As a result, the team has come up with no more than3 critical success factors.

    Taking that one step further allows each team to drill down and define how they are going to measure these CSF and build a plan on how they are going to achieve them.

    Step 2: Align Your Teams

    The first step will ensure that both the sales and marketing teams are aligned. To align the entire team, you need to bring both sales and marketing together to share their CSF’s and define how they can work best together to achieve their objectives

    Step 3: Develop and Execute with Accountability

    The key here is developing your team members to be better at what they do. Have them work with an expert who can help them become better leaders and hold them accountable to effectively executing the CSF’s

    Step 4: Track Your CSF’s

    As part of generating buy-in from both your sales and marketing teams, you have empowered them to define the CSF. They have also built the plan and come with their own metrics. Developing a monthly tracking and reporting system to provide feedback on how each member of the team is doing against their CSFs helps keep things real.

    Step 5: Review and Improve

    To conclude the process I recommend a quarterly review meeting focused on opportunities and ways to improve, drive better execution and crush your sales numbers month over month!


    In conclusion, BU heads should spend as much time on planning effective execution as they do on building marketing plans. That would put them in a far better position to CRUSH their sales numbers.

    If you have any comments or wish to discuss how we can help you execute with excellence send me a note or book a time to talk.

    Good luck this year and congratulations for taking the first step to ensuring you make your next the year you execute with excellence!

    Article originally published August 9th, 2016 on
    Star Result's Blog
    Steven Rosen
    Published October 2, 2016
    By Steven Rosen

    Steven A. Rosen helps companies transform sales managers into great sales leaders. Steven is the author of 52 Sales Management Tips – The Sales Manager’s Success Guide and the CEO at STAR Results. Steven’s Focused Executive Coaching program helps clients achieve greater personal and professional success.

    Find out more about Steven Rosen on LinkedIn