Sales Support Consultants
A Strategic Snapshot & Plan Of Action
A solid strategy is critical to the success of all businesses, large and small yet many strategies
Over my entire career, I have found that strategies are seldom implemented properly because a
suitable framework is missing – an architecture that reaches from strategy conception to strategy
implementation and beyond.
Strategy implementation, in contrast to strategy design, is largely absent from successfully
implemented programs. This is generally because company leaders usually fail to provide the
link to strategy implementation. What is missed is an approach that can bridge the gulf between
strategy formulation and strategy implementation.
At Seraphim International we will link a dynamic strategic process with/to rep behavior.
We believe that a continuous dialectic of strategy and organizational action will outperform
traditional methodologies significantly.
Traditional approaches to strategy and tactics may no longer be sufficient in such a competitive
and complex selling space. Sales management can work in the mental model via command-and-
control but not in the way that was textbook from past growth models.
Any way you look at it, the practice of management in this industry has not caught up to the
fundamental changes needed in our sales landscape today. If we fail to capitalize on the tactical
implementation needed for future sustainability the opportunity costs can and will be enormous.
It is commonplace to say that successful implementation of strategy comes down to people, so
many companies talk of change and talk about empowerment. Saying it is one thing – facilitating
it is quite another. Needed is the ability to unleash creativity at every level of the organization. By
turning the traditional sequence – planning followed by action – on its head, to transform
resistance into highly flexible, productive breakthroughs.
Traditional planning is often riddled by multiple shortcomings:
Traditional planning precedes action and remains static, regardless of the changing
entrepreneurial landscape created by that action.
Traditional planning is top-down, reducing people to recipients or objects of the strategy – or
both. I am suspicious of buzz-phrases like “this is what we do best, get the customer to buy into,
this is what we have always done…” which reveal that employees are the buyers, not the co-
authors of strategy.
Traditional planning compartmentalizes organizational functions and ignores both gaps and
opportunities. This separation can and is resulting in bottlenecks, it causes declining sales, and it
produces failed execution.
Traditional planning results in a linear input/output ratio, producing only limited output and
failing to exploit the possibilities of nonlinear outputs.
Traditional planning focuses on expansion of a heavy and costly infrastructure. It sacrifices the
ability to turn on a dime and to take entrepreneurial leaps.
Traditional planning attacks isolated problems with a fix-it approach. It fails to uncover the
systemic roots of problems and to create comprehensive solutions derived from the active
involvement of all stakeholders.
Why does strategy fail so often to live up to the high expectations placed on it by strategic
Because things go wrong when planners fall prey to unrecognized and unexamined
bias and assumptions – “blind-spots” which filter out critical information and thereby damage
the creativity and productivity that lie hidden within organizations.
I generally strive to honestly answer the following two questions.
What are the roadblocks of bias?
Are any of these keeping you from successful strategy implementation?
Reification bias: “Strategy is a thing.” Do you think that strategy is a blueprint, a book, or a
product that is finished and fixed once it is done?
Strategy does not deserve the name unless it is evolutionary and highly adaptive.
Control bias: “I am in charge – whatever I say is implemented.” Is the strategic process
unilaterally controlled from the top?
Yes-men around the top are filtering out vital information that flows to the bottom. It is creating
illusory and actually counterproductive control because it stifles the creativity of front-line people.
Linearity bias: “Strategy is being broken down into mini-tasks and performed predictably.”
Many sales leaders believe that strategy is a step-by-step, linear process. It is not. Strategy is like
life: complex, unpredictable, and messy. Like whitewater rafting, it requires being in control while
being out of control.
Commodity bias: “People are expendable or exchangeable.” Perhaps unwittingly reps are
thought of customers or as a commodity – “capital” in the very sense of that term??
Insularity bias: “Management’s job is to run the business, not to focus on what is happening
outside the business.”
Therefore, our organizational successes and failures must be driven largely by the
entrepreneurial ecology around them.
Strategy- is dynamic – a continuous, evolutionary process of aligning people on a
goal, getting and analyzing results, and connecting it all back to strategy formulation. The
outcomes of strategy implementation are fed back into the strategy to galvanize further
strategic action. This approach to strategy improves organizational vitality and performance. It
must focus on organizational health, both present and future.
The goal should be to optimize the performance of the entire system and that is what we are
experts at doing.
Strategy will only succeed when the organization builds a sustaining competitive advantage.
We invest in educating people on strategy or in unleashing their creativity.
We believe that the potential of sales can be greatly enhanced and harnessed for greater, more
Is empowerment, masked by the right buzzwords of “development,” “resources” and yes,
“empowerment,” leading to considerable productivity losses and also blocking untapped
If one single organ does not function properly our entire body is in harm’s way. Similarly, the
success factors I map out below works as a comprehensive package.
Past experience taught me that no matter how good a strategy may be; sustained success is
impossible without juggling all success factors at once – much like a master juggler who keeps all
the plates in the air.
So in our employment, we would examine the following and start to answer the underlying
Value – Just do not say it, we will show it by maximizing value to customers. After all, everyone
says that they deliver value.
What value do you really deliver on?
Catalyst – As a team we will generate change proactively, not merely react to change. Commit to
the strategic intent and to playing a catalytic, strategic role, while being flexible about the
means and pathways to achieving the strategic intent. Experiment with catalytic projects at
low cost and low risk. Use breakdowns as catalysts for breakthroughs. No outcome is final:
every outcome becomes a catalyst for further initiatives.
Going off to sell at/in a customer site is a huge change catalyst.
What are you doing as a company to deliver value?
What structures do you have in place to assure success and growth?
Action – We would use continuous feedback from operational successes and failures to
reshape the strategy. Strategy must be a dialectic evolution of action.
We will use and manipulate customer feedback.
How will you change with the new found knowledge?
Leadership - I involved everyone in developing the strategy and develop competencies at all
levels and energize the sales organization toward goal attainment. As the change agent (an
organizational leader) in charge I may even change processes to accomplish the needed change.
What latitude do you really have?
What programs are you willing to examine?
Partnership - We maintain open communication and mutual trust between implementers and
We will put a communication infrastructure in place.
People – We will unleash human potential – often local or seemingly peripheral – creativity
and ingenuity. The structure must serve the sales strategy, not the other way around.
We will help rebuild the organization?
Ownership – We are 100% committed to your strategy and ensure continuous input to the
strategy both top-down and bottom-up – from implementers and end-users.
For example, imagine a CEO who is expected to control the work done by a 7-level hierarchical
organization of some 4,000 employees. Assuming that each individual has to filter out at least
one-half of the information he or she reports, the CEO will know less than 2 percent of the
information available in the organization at any given time. And who knows whether managers
pass the right half of their information to superiors? Unless we create shared understanding and
alignment, reps will make decisions in the dark.
Learning - We take calculated risks and innovate. Celebrate successes, and address failures
as learning opportunities. Hold the track record as “so what.” Focus on what is missing, on
the obstacles, and on opportunities for integration.
We will determine what is missing. What the obstacles are. What opportunities are being ignored.
Framework – We are sense-makers. We make sense of confusion by constantly
adjusting the strategic framework as new circumstances develop. Integrate the parts, and
work on the system as a whole.
We will develop and propose to integrate the framework of the organization.
These are the 7 phases of strategy-in-action that we will propose:
To continue On or for more information on Seraphim Intl.
Please Write or Call 262-705-4494