Thursday, 3 February 2011

OD on strategy to increase sales.

Is your organisation failing to achieve its revenue targets? Are prospects not being converted into profitable sales? Is there tension between the sales team and other departments?

Your Strategy has been recently refreshed. The Board have signed-off challenging targets. The vision is clear and cascaded effectively, but where will the new revenue come from?

It is possible to look outside the business for an answer and we will certainly talk more about converting market analysis in future blogs. Today, I want to focus on facilitating internal behavioural change - the role that you should take to “OD the Strategy”.

As an example, Pyramid recently worked with a well established precision engineering company – an international, specialist player. They felt they might be missing out on “easier” sales opportunities arising from cross-selling between product divisions and from after-sales to existing clients.

The psychological barriers to change were significant. Managers and Executive Board Directors had built their careers on the company’s strong product history – successful silos and inter-departmental competitiveness resulted.

To OD their strategy, all their managers participated in facilitated redesign. They:

- Created an aligned structure and bench-tested changes to core processes;

- Completed potential risk assessment and highlighted mitigating actions;

- Proposed phased implementation towards a market-led business.

Management were re-energised.

You may have done something similar after your last strategic review, but what next?

If your risk assessment has been robust, then your business should still be converting traditional sales from established markets. This is nothing more than your base-line.

As a leader, you should not rely on the illumination arising from the market analysis in the strategic review or the energy generated in facilitated meetings to achieve sustainable change.

Your internal communications will still need to create greater awareness, ownership and concerted multi-functional action, by tapping in to the know-how and latent potential existing across the whole organisation – more on this next time.

But most importantly - your leadership must create “positive anxiety”, where once complacency ruled. Your personal energy level and visibility must go up a notch or three. If you traditionally operate at “high” on any scale, then you now need to be operating at an “11” on a new dial. You should return to management basics with enthusiasm, curiosity and empathy:

- Monitor the prospects database, read every visit report, roam your CRM system and ask lots of positive and supportive questions;

- Give the motivational vision speech, particularly with manufacturing and sales staff physically and “mentally” in the same room. Keep it real for them, by setting challenging targets and actively listening to their feedback;

- Create positive tension on quality and performance for those delivering your core business functions, particularly where finance, sales, marketing, manufacturing and logistics processes interface.

One way of managing this last point constructively is to encourage every member of the management to demonstrate how and where their teams are building stronger relationships and measuring only the things that matter to achieve shared goals. Set about destroying silos and negative inter-departmental beliefs that get in the way. No more moaning and groaning – just one for all and all for one.

I will be talking more about this last point in two weeks, so don’t forget to register here to follow my future blogs. In the meantime, read “Bounce” by Keith McFarland to learn more about “positive anxiety”.

And Happy Chinese New Year!