The strategy to action gap


Published on

Published in: Business, Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The strategy to action gap

  1. 1. MathMarketing Pty LtdABN 14 563 955 163Level 10, 390 St Kilda RoadMelbourne Victoria 3004AustraliaPh: 61 3 9006 4999Fx: 61 3 9948 The Strategy to Action Gap: How to turn good ideas into hard sales results Prepared by MathMarketing Subject The Strategy to Action Gap - How to turn good ideas into hard sales results
  2. 2. There‟s no use formulating a killer strategy if you execute it poorly, or (worse) fail to execute it at all. Turning your strategy into action is critical, because only action will bring you hard sales results. The process of turning strategy into successful business outcomes is one of the biggest challenges facing today‟s business leaders. A combination of complex and constantly changing business environments, and hectic personal schedules, means that many great strategies simply never get executed – let alone executed well. In a recent survey of more than four hundred leaders (including general managers, vice presidents, directors and department heads), OnPoint Consulting found that: “Forty-nine percent…perceive a gap between their organisations’ ability to develop <and communicate> sound strategies and their 1 ability to implement those strategies.” Crucially: “Sixty-four percent don’t have full confidence that their companies 2 will be able to close that gap.” Business leaders from all sorts of industries are struggling to turn good ideas into hard sales results – and are failing to see a way forward. In this white paper, we‟ll explain why. We‟ll also offer three proven steps to closing the strategy to action gap, and getting real results in the form of revenue. Why does the strategy to action gap exist? We see three common reasons: 1. Strategy is inside-out 2. Tactics are arbitrary 3. Sales and Marketing are not aligned 1. Strategy is inside-out For many marketers, strategy boils down to answering four basic questions:  What do you sell?  To whom to you sell it?  Through whom do you sell it?  Who else sells it? 1 Lepsinger, R. 2006, „Surveying the Gap: Study Suggests Nearly Half of All Leaders See a Disconnect Between Strategy and Execution‟, accessed at, (October 31st, 2007). 2 Lepsinger, R. 2006, „Surveying the Gap: Study Suggests Nearly Half of All Leaders See a Disconnect Between Strategy and Execution‟, accessed at, (October 31st, 2007).Page 2 The Strategy to Action Gap - How to turn good ideas into hard sales results
  3. 3. But formulating strategy by asking these questions means formulating it around your business. Essentially, your strategy becomes what you want to do. Unfortunately – and crucially – this approach fails to take into account your buyers. And often, your buyers are not affected by your strategy at all. In a complex business to business buying environment, buyers take a complex cognitive journey. They start off untroubled and unaware; essentially, they are complacent. At some point though, they become troubled. Once they‟ve acknowledged their problem, they cognitively define what they need to solve that problem – or to make that pain go away. They then formulate their preferences, receive proposals and, ultimately, select a vendor, sign a contract and engage. But here‟s the key: the stage labelled „acknowledge pain‟ is critical. Needs versus problems! Acknowledging the problem is a critical stage in the buyer’s journey. Choose the problem that your business solves best, and build your strategy around that problem.‘Solutions’ and Most of us are uncomfortable talking about problems. Somehow, it seems‘needs’ are wrong. We‟re conditioned to look for – and spread – good news.distractions. Buyerspay money to solve But here‟s the catch: If your customers can‟t clearly identify the negativeproblems. consequences of not buying, they won‟t buy. And it gets worse. A buyer with a need will spend time. They‟ll come to your seminar, receive your solicitations, download your white papers and accept your meeting requests. Sounds good, right? A buyer with a problem will spend money. Still sounds OK. But here‟s the other catch: A buyer with a need – and not a problem – will spend time, but NOT money. Your team must understand the problems your business solves. And your strategy must bring these problems to the forefront of your buyers‟ minds. To recast your strategy around your buyers, ask:  Who most has the problem? (Because that‟s who you should be targeting);  What most fully solves the problem? (Because that‟s what you should be selling); Page 3 The Strategy to Action Gap - How to turn good ideas into hard sales results
  4. 4.  Who best uncovers the problem? (Because that‟s who your channel should be); and  Who else solves the problem? (Because that‟s who your real competition is). To turn strategy into action, your strategy needs to be turned the right way around. To do this, understand the problem faced by your buyers‟, and build your strategy around that problem. But your strategy doesn‟t translate to action – yet. 2. Tactics are arbitrary For many businesses, choosing tactics is an arbitrary decision. We‟ve heard:  “I do what I know.”  “I copy my competition.”  “It seemed to work last year.”  “The old ones were boring.” But there‟s another – smarter – way to choose tactics. Think about the buyers‟ journey again. The job of tactics is to progress buyers through that journey. Your tactics need to help your buyers: 1. Position you in the category; 2. Accept they have the problem; 3. Establish your credentials; 4. Define a clear need; 5. Accept your solution as valid; 6. Choose you as their preference; 7. Be willing to contract; and 8. Be ready to grow. Your tactics must be designed to successfully progress buyers from each stage to the next. But what about progressing your own team? More specifically, what about alignment? 3. Sales and Marketing are not aligned Sales and Marketing should be aligned; but to what? In partnership with, we conducted a comprehensive study into Sales and Marketing alignment. We found that businesses which enjoy strong alignment are:  Outgrowing their competitors by 5.4%  38% better at closing proposals  Churning 36% fewer customers each yearPage 4 The Strategy to Action Gap - How to turn good ideas into hard sales results
  5. 5. Source: MathMarketing alignment benchmark study 2004/2005 : 1400 professionals : 84 countries So alignment is good; but what should you align to? It‟s not about aligning Sales to Marketing or the other way around, but aligning both to the same things. Sales and Marketing must align to shared objectives, strategy, tactics and measures. Ultimately, alignment calls for a singular plan built by Sales and Marketing together. Organising the execution of Sales and Marketing activities is a challenge. Notably, businesses: “…that lack a plan…produce fragmented and incremental 3 activities.” Only a singular plan that aligns Sales and Marketing to shared objectives, strategy, tactics and measures will translate strategy into action; and produce real results. Three proven steps to turn good ideas into hard sales resultsStep 1 – Lock Don‟t make the mistake of building your strategy on your own, and then tellingeveryone in a room your team all about it. Why? Because then it will be your strategy, not your extended teams. As a consequence, you‟ll lack stakeholder buy-in and struggle to get your team to execute with passion and precision. Instead, bring your team together and build your strategy in concert. If you do this efficiently, it can be done in just three days – and you‟ll reap the short-term and long-term benefits.Step 2 – Build a The problem is where you and your buyer connect, and where you‟ll profit most.strategy and choose Build your strategy around this problem, and hone in on the prospects whotactics around the really have it – not those who only have a need.buyer Next, capitalise on your strategy by choosing tactics that progress your buyers through each stage of the journey. Careful and considered choice of tactics is mandatory – copying your competitor or choosing tactics because they‟re „cool‟ just won‟t get you the results you‟re chasing.Step 3 – Don’t do it Building your strategy as a team is much smarter than building it by yourself But being too close to the content is dangerous. Because your team deals daily with the ins and outs of your business, this is a likely occurrence. 3 Yukl, G. & Lepsinger, R. 2007, „Getting It Done: Four Ways to Translate Strategy into Results”, accessed at, (October 31st, 2007), p.4. Page 5 The Strategy to Action Gap - How to turn good ideas into hard sales results
  6. 6. Being too close to the content means objective decision making is near- impossible. You‟re also likely to experience internal conflict if you lack external management adequately equipped to control the process. Get help, and get it right – the first time.Page 6 The Strategy to Action Gap - How to turn good ideas into hard sales results
  7. 7. About MathMarketing In Australia, Asia, North America and Europe, MathMarketing has served many leading and aspiring businesses who seek to align Sales and Marketing and pursue growth. These include AAPT, AXA, CA, Canon, Colonial, Ernst & Young, GE, IBM, NEC, Nokia, Optus, Oracle, Perpetual, SAP, Sony, Telstra, Vodafone and World Vision. These businesses have been wrestling with at least one of a number of common problems:  They lack a clear plan for growth;  Their team has gaps in their B2B marketing skills;  Members of their team just don‟t „get it‟; or  Sales and Marketing are not aligned. In addressing these common problems, MathMarketing created Funnel Logic™. Developed as a unique approach to sales and marketing, Funnel Logic unlocks the keys to B2B growth by:  Understanding the buying process (we call it the Buyer‟s Journey);  Knowing how many buyers need to take each step and over what time;  Selecting tactics capable of moving buyers through these steps; and  Measuring the actual results and continuously improving. The methodology has been brought to life through:  A facilitated planning program that aligns leaders from Sales, Marketing and other functions around a highly-actionable plan;  Grounded marketing training for B2B professionals, helping marketers earn a seat at the table with advanced skills in setting strategy, sizing markets, building campaigns, and selecting tactics;  Comprehensive business coaching which focuses the strategic direction of your business, and assists you in developing your own blisteringly clear, highly actionable plan for growth;  An executive simulation game to help the broader team to understand the funnel, and how to progress buyers through it;  A series of thought-leadership articles delivered as sharp, punchy insights into managing your sales and marketing funnel published globally; and  A popular business novel praised by business leaders for its true-to-life description of the challenges faced by growth businesses, and its powerful lessons for large and small businesses alike. Next? To learn more about these problems and how MathMarketing solves them, visit or phone +61 3 9006 4999.Page 7 The Strategy to Action Gap - How to turn good ideas into hard sales results