Harvard Business School Professor Frank Cespedes recently joined us for Closing the Strategy Sales Gap, a webinar that focused on aligning strategy and sales to maximize results. An expert in the field, Frank has developed and taught a variety of courses at Harvard and led multiple development programs for senior executives. Frank, along with moderator Angelia Herrin, Harvard Business Review Research and Special Projects Editor, facilitated a fascinating webinar that highlighted ways to close the gap between strategy and sales.
To set the stage for the webinar, Frank pointed out the fact that US companies invest almost $900 billion annually on their sales efforts. To put that amount into perspective, that is almost three times the total media ad spend last year by US companies. Despite this huge investment in sales, research shows that companies realize only 50-60% of the financial performance that their strategies promise.
Frank also illuminated the surprising fact that less than 50% of US employees say they understand their firm’s corporate strategy—a percentage that actually decreases with sales or service employees.
These facts point to the issue that aligning sales efforts with strategic corporate goals is eluding many companies today. How can this gap between sales and strategy be closed? According to Frank, the answer can be found in three core dimensions:
– Shared Vision: Ensuring that sales efforts are aligned with strategic goals
– Linking Price and Value: Price is where companies can test the coherence of a corporate strategy
– Productivity and Continuous Improvement: Improving sales productivity by enabling better customer management
In the webinar, Frank elaborated on each dimension, and provided practical ways for participants to enact change within their organizations. He also provided diagnostic tools that can be used to spur discussion, and evaluate where a company stands in terms of aligning strategic goals and sales efforts.
The webinar concluded with thoughtful questions from participants, prompting further dialogue around:
– Sales teams’ participation in pricing and strategizing
– HR’s role in closing the strategy-sales gap
– Compensation and Account Action Reviews