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Corporate strategy, conceived in the boardroom, most often dies when handed over to a sales team on the front lines. The most thoughtfully formulated growth strategy will fail if the sales organization can’t execute that strategy in real time. In order to prevent the perversion of strategy, CEOs must take the lead in translating big-picture strategy so that sales teams can both understand and implement that strategy as intended. Too often, communication from the C-suite to sales is focused entirely on numbers and the need to increase them, which sends a clear, though sometimes unintended message: any revenue is good revenue.  When that happens, the strategy is subsumed in favor of short-term and sub-optimal sales that create a cascade of organizational problems. It’s also vitally important for chief executives to recognize that a client or prospect’s interaction with your sales team is the first mile of the customer journey. C-level leaders need to deliberately shape their sales organizations to deliver on both the strategy and the promise of a highly valuable customer experience. Because what many executives don’t understand is that sales is strategy and most revenue shortfalls are failures of leadership and not of sales.

Revenue shortfalls are leadership issues, not sales issues.

If CEOs don’t actively focus on driving the execution of their business strategy through the sales organization, they render that strategy useless, no matter how good it is. The company’s strategy originates with the CEO but it dies, often painfully, on the front lines. It perishes in the presence of your clients and prospects when they interact with sales professionals.

When it dies, it takes along with it the opportunity to earn a new client, expand existing business with another, or provide your optimal product/service mix.  Without strategy as their guide, your sales team will tend to overinvest in prospects that don’t represent your target market and will not deliver meaningful revenue or margins. As the strategy dies, the growth it was intended to create dies along with it. Addressing the issue can’t be delegated to the VP of Sales or HR. With no disrespect to those hardworking and talented professionals, their roles just don’t have the wide-range of responsibility, influence, and fiduciary authority needed to effectively lead change across the organization. CEOs who want to increase the top/bottom line in their business need to fundamentally reevaluate strategies for their sales organization, and provide the leadership that will drive revenue growth.

Keep Reading: Predictable Failure Points – Where it all goes wrong

Edinger Consulting