As a business coach to many companies in South Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach) as well as across the U.S. and Canada, I spend a lot of time helping small and medium businesses address sales growth-rate issues. The lack of focus on this area is surprising. Ironically, when one talks to the leaders of these companies, they insist they have done all they can. In my experience, there’s been more talk than action, particularly in the business-to-business arena.
In most situations, when I sit down with a business coaching client, I find the real dilemma is that they continue the same sales and marketing strategies that failed in the previous year, hoping that things will magically get better for them. The changes they had made were minor and did not get to the root of their problem.
When Competition is Growing Faster than Your Company
When I work with a client that is not growing faster than their competition, the issue is most likely to be a strategic one. The preponderance of companies who employ Activate Group’s services are operating without a business strategy. In my last article I discussed the importance of having an “unusual offering” for existing and potential clients. This is essentially your company strategy. This article is about implementing that strategy.
Is Your Strategy Different From What’s Happening in Your Company
Many CEOs have a strategy in their heads that is very different from what is happening in their companies. While there may be a few customer case studies that demonstrate the CEO’s vision in practice, the common customer experience is that what is presented to them fails to meet the definition of an “unusual offering.” The main reason for this disconnect is the CEO’s failure to be able to simply articulate the strategy and communicate it effectively to his/her team. As a result, the strategy is a dream in their heads rather than their business reality.
State Your Strategy in Simple Terms
In order to help your small business you must be able to state your strategy in simple terms so that all of your employees and customers can understand it. “Simple” is the most important term here. If you cannot simply describe how you are going to be different from your competition then your team cannot achieve your goal. If your team does not know where you are headed, they will never get there. If they cannot restate your strategy, it will not happen.
Aligning Leadership with Your Strategy
We have found that implementing the business operating system that is derived from the Four Decisions Program™ (formerly known as the “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Workshop”) has helped thousands of executives develop and implement their One-Page strategies. After recognizing the challenges of communicating strategy to the team, there have been two new additions to the workshop tools to help leadership succeed: the 7 Strata Worksheet and the 4D Vision Worksheet. These tools are instrumental in making sure that the entire leadership is in alignment on what the company strategy is, and how to communicate it to the team.
Turn Your Strategy Into Action
The most important steps to turning your strategy into action are repetition and alignment of activities. First, like anything else you want done, you need to repeat yourself a lot. The best leaders in the world pick only a few messages each year and repeat them constantly until there is no doubt that everyone has “gotten” them. They know their message has gotten through when everyone on the team is acting in accordance with the message. If there are any stragglers then the message needs more repetition.
Aligning Your Business Strategy
The second critical issue related to strategy is aligning your business strategy. I cannot tell you how often I hear what a great strategy a company has only to find that it does not really exist. For example, one of my clients has a great idea for what the company strategy should be. This person has been preaching that strategy for years. However, when you look at the company client base, a majority of their clients have not purchased any services related to that strategy. As a result, growth has suffered.
What to Do Once Your Strategy is Decided
Once you have decided upon a strategy, every department and function needs to look at their activities and ask these and similar questions:
- What needs to be done to align our activities with the company strategy?
- If you were being audited, would someone who compared your stated strategy to your company operations call you a fraud?
- Are we doing anything that is contrary to our strategy?
- Does any part of customer service need to change?
- Does our structure properly support our strategy?
- Do we have the right people in place to deliver on our strategy?
- Are you measuring activities to confirm that you are delivering on your strategy?
- Are salespeople approaching potential customers that will appreciate this strategy?
- Do our proposals extenuate our strategy?
- Are the marketing messages right?
As an executive and business coach, I can provide you with practical business solutions to accelerate your business growth. To learn how to improve your growth potential, contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7213.