The executive team spent the last couple months of the year coming up with the growth strategy for the company. They conducted multiple meetings, debated several topics, then defined goals and initiatives for the sales team to execute. Everyone was happy with the work that was put in and were cautiously optimistic that the plan was going to work. But now you are coming to the end of the first quarter and you realize that the best laid plans have already been abandoned to some degree. This scenario happens often. But why? Let’s start by asking these questions:
There is a famous quote in military circles that states: “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.” Things are no different in sales. We make our plans and communicate them to the sales team, but as soon as they start having client meetings and start reacting to things coming at them, the plan becomes an afterthought. It is much easier to just cater to the deal of the day or issue of the day rather than to change behavior and focus on a plan.
Now is an excellent time to do a gut check before it’s too late. There are only four possibilities as to where you are at with your plan right now.
Executing your Plan/Getting Results – This is the ideal scenario. If this is happening, keep reinforcing the right behaviors and keep it going. But, stop and validate that you are actually executing the plan. Too many times we see good numbers and believe we are executing only to find out that we are getting short term results, but making no strategic progress.
Executing the Plan/Not Getting Results – Again, make sure we are executing well and doing the things we said we wanted to do. If we are and not getting results, then maybe our plan wasn’t good and we may need to make adjustments. Look deep and see if the lack of results are because our assumptions are wrong, because we are not executing well, because something changed in the market, etc. Work hard to understand why your plan is not effective and make adjustments as needed.
Not Executing the Plan/Getting Good Results – Good news that you are getting results. Everybody likes that. Bad news is that you may not be making progress on your strategy. What do you do? Start by determining if the results you are getting are sustainable. If your revenue is high because you got one big deal that is not going to repeat, then you should probably get back on your plan. If you are getting results because you stumbled into a bigger opportunity that could lead to much more, then evaluate it against your current plan and decide which direction you should take.
Not Executing/Not Getting Results – unfortunately, this happens a lot in small to mid-sized business. People get distracted too easily and it is more comfortable to keep doing what you’ve always done vs. pursuing a new strategy. Start by understanding why people are not executing. Be ready to look in the mirror. If you are not reinforcing the strategy, measuring its progress, recognizing people for doing the right thing, etc. then people probably won’t execute.
The worst thing you could do is to not pay attention at all to your plan. This is how companies fall short of their goals and get stagnated in their growth. They make a plan, then don’t pull it out again until next year when it’s time to do that plan.
Don’t wait – give yourself a gut check this week!