Strategic alignment is extremely important, but easily forgotten. In the churn of day to day operations, organizations often miss the mark when it comes to harmonizing people, processes, and sales strategy. Is your sales organization strategically misaligned? Find out by answering these 10 questions (if you haven’t already).
A misaligned organization has a hard time achieving business goals because there is a mismatch between strategy and execution. This happens for various reasons: faulty compensation plan design and management, inefficient communication with the sales force, lack of alignment between key stakeholders, etc.
Strategic alignment leads to improved sales performance and goal achievement as it optimizes processes and reps’ contribution. Achieving alignment starts with communicating the strategy to key stakeholders and getting input from them before plan design. HR provides useful ideas on how to best motivate reps, Finance keeps tabs on budget, while Sales has insights from the field. You don’t only get crucial information, but you engage functions and get them all on the same page.
Next, design the compensation plan with the sales strategy as a backbone. Compensation plans are not just tools for paying sales reps, they are vehicles for strategy execution. Plans should look at the strategy and find ways to motivate desired behaviors in the sales force. If the plan is designed right, strategy and behaviors will align.
It’s also essential to communicate the plan effectively, to all levels of the organization. Reps must understand their role in strategy execution and the process behind objective-setting. The better motivated reps are, the higher the chances they will achieve targets. This translates into strategy execution and maintains people and strategy aligned.
Actively monitor plan performance. Use analytics to understand what is working and what needs improvement. Compare actual with desired results and provide meaningful information to the right people so decisions are quick and your organization avoids misalignment. If necessary, consider plan changes, but carefully analyze revenue, costs, and margins, as well as other possible consequences.
To keep motivation high and behaviors aligned with strategy throughout the year, identify training needs. Use coaching to improve sales reps’ performance and give managers an active feedback role. However, when looking at performance, consider that undesirable behaviors might not be reps’ fault, but a signal of bigger problem.
Lastly, plan design and modeling must keep up with evolving market demands and changing strategies. Many sales organizations find themselves tangled up in a mishmash of manual and automatic processes, with changes taking months to implement. Needless to say, achieving alignment without efficient processes is difficult. Work with experts and use technologies that allow you to manage complexity and turn it into a competitive advantage.
Strategically aligning your organization can have great positive impact. For example, Optymyze worked with a consumer goods leader to align strategy and sales force motivation in order to achieve the desired growth. With a clear compensation plan and engaging gamification strategy, and by providing management with the necessary analytics, we were able to help this organization better align its people, processes, and strategy. Outcomes included higher motivation among sales reps, greater adaptability in a competitive environment, and goal achievement.
The best practices in this article are based on the lessons we’ve learned from years of working with clients worldwide to improve sales performance. What is your personal experience with keeping your organization strategically aligned? Any specific solutions you found useful? I would love to hear you out on the topic.