Entrepreneurial action without a strategy – isn’t that like rowing a ship but not knowing where to go? Companies that are on the road without a long-term and integrated corporate and sales strategy are navigating blindly through the fog. With these recommendations from our guest author Prof. Dr. Peter Winkelmann you build a long-term and intelligent sales strategy for your company.
Banks and consultants complain again and again that short-term planning still predominates to a large extent in the economy. Too many companies row their corporate ship without long-term vision and planning. To the credit of managers who plan from quarter to quarter, more and more discontinuities are occurring in the economic environment, product life cycles are becoming ever shorter and profit-hungry shareholders are insisting on short-term price increases.
But still: Board members or managing directors who cannot explain to the banks and supervisory boards in a plausible way what competitive position they are aiming for in the long term and for which projects they need investment funds will be called into question at the latest by the next crisis.
So let’s assume that the creation of a corporate strategy is part of the housework of a management board. But how does a sales strategy fit into this picture? Well, medium and long-term corporate planning that doesn’t reach customers (segments), market shares or products at the end of the day is smoke and mirrors. After all, it is ultimately customers in regional markets and defined fields of application that determine the future of every company. Projects into which money was and is constantly being pumped – such as the “BER” or the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie – can only be expected of taxpayers who are watching helplessly.
It is therefore undisputed that a sales strategy forms the hard core of a corporate strategy.
The sizes order intake , sales and earnings that are decisive for business economists are derived from market activities. They do not exist in a vacuum, but are the result of often long-term customer support with the resulting effects on sales and earnings.
What is the secret of integrated corporate and sales planning? I would like to summarize three recommendations here based on years of experience.
1. Bring the strategy to the operational working level
The most important thing: A corporate or sales strategy that has been laid down must not be limited to eliminating weaknesses or using opportunities from a SWOT analysis. Rather, only a parameterization of the planning as part of a CRM sales control becomes an indispensable method for market success. You can also put it this way: It is the task of the company management to transform the strategy into sales-relevant operational and thus controllable variables.
Specifically, the following strategic goals can be easily controlled and scaled:
- Increase of market shares in defined customer (value) segments
- Increase in market shares in regions (globalization)
- Expansion of parts supplied to key customers
- Product launches (innovation projects) in emerging markets
- Improving the profitability of the product mix
- Improving the profitability of customer-related processes
- Targeted actions or reactions towards competitors .
This is just a selection of CRM-relevant control variables that can be easily derived from a corporate strategy.
2. Start with the adjustment screws for sales and earnings
This sentence expresses a strategic dilemma:
If there is no sales, it is already too late.
Because a corporate strategy cannot develop any clout if it is purely limited to business results such as sales, earnings or contribution margin. Rather, a sales strategy must be aligned to the adjusting screws of the sales funnel, which bring about sales and earnings at the end of the sales process.
Here are some examples as well:
- Number of new product developments
- Number of leads and their assessable potential
- Customer visits to selected existing customers for better exploitation of potential
- Development of product ideas with lead users
- Visit specifications not with the watering can, but differentiated according to the value of customer segments, in the sense of a customer value-related visit strategy.
These thoughts will be topics in the further course of the blog series.
3. Develop CRM into xRM or a business solution
As much as the focus is on the customer: due to economic and technological developments, it is no longer sufficient to concentrate strategy work on sales. Rather, it is important to think outside the box of the sales organization and to integrate all operational planning areas into a business solution.
In this regard, CRM people also speak of the xRM approach or of Any Relationship Management. What is the use of the best corporate strategy if purchasing does not have the time to initiate new strategic purchased parts for production? Or if culture and language-savvy customer advisors and sales partners were not established in good time for a demanding globalization strategy? In short: A sales strategy must not remain in the silo. The same applies to all other departments.
Conclusion: Show more appreciation for the sale
The sales strategy is also at the heart of strategic corporate planning as part of a business solution. A management that does not pay enough respect and attention to the sales area, cannot motivate and qualify its sales team for future-oriented thinking and planning and also does not know what “parameterization of strategic goals within the framework of CRM” means, is not doing a good job in my experience Job.
What role does digitization play in the context of corporate and sales planning? The next post in the blog series will deal with this very topical issue.