Welcome our guest thought leader: Tim Ohai is a leading growth consultant. He is the Founder and Principal of Kupu Solutions, and previously served as Global Director of Sales Effectiveness for Workday and other sales enablement roles at Shell Oil and Pennzoil. Connect with him and follow his wisdom here. And catch his latest podcast season of How to NOT Execute Your Strategy (and what to do about it) for more.
What is the deciding factor between two competing strategies? Which strategy will execute better and ultimately win?
For the most basic of scenarios, the team with the greater clarity wins.
When clarity is equal, the team that is more empowered wins.
And when each side has been equally empowered, the more engaged team will win.
But what happens when everything is equal? Are both sides doomed to stalemate?
I believe that strategic execution boils down to two more things. Two incredibly complex things.
ACCOUNTABILITY’S ROLE IN THE REVENUE STRATEGY
First, accountability. When there is a lack of accountability, the revenue strategy cracks. It doesn’t matter how strong the revenue strategy is, accountability undermines every single dependency and weakens how they function.
- Brand Marketing can’t get Field Marketing to align.
- Field Marketing can’t get Field Sales to adopt.
- Field Sales can’t get Sales Operations to support.
- Sales Operations can’t get IT to change.
And so forth.
Accountability is literally the glue of the strategy.
To the Type A personalities amongst us, it would seem like accountability should be tackled full on. But here is the rub.
Accountability — the healthy kind — is built on trust. And the protests and demands of Type A revenue executives will not create trust.
Trust is established through a combination of transparency without negative consequence. People need to be told (and be comfortable telling) when agreed upon expectations aren’t being met. The expectation must be reinforced over and over again, until they either leave, figure it out or ask for help to meet the expectation. Building trust cannot be forced. And if that kind of approach won’t work in your organization, you can only choose one of two paths:
- Path 1: Scale the revenue strategy back to the level of accountability that does work
- Path 2: Address the greatest obstacle to execution: your culture
CULTURE’S ROLE IN THE REVENUE STRATEGY
Culture is the very bedrock of execution. All decisions — from executive leadership to the playing field — extend from your culture.
What is culture exactly? Investopedia defines culture as, “The values, beliefs, and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact, perform, and handle business.”
I would offer a different (though complementary) definition. Culture is the culmination of the values and beliefs that make things feel “right” for the local team.
In other words, the cultures of our organizations are linked to how “right” everything feels. And that feeling is as subjective as the group we are part of. What feels “right” to Finance may or may not feel “right” to Sales. What feels “right” in the U.S. may not feel “right” in Japan. And so on.
Can you see how a feeling of rightness can either galvanize or destroy your revenue strategy? I believe this is why Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
When culture is healthy, people can anchor their decisions to execute a strategy that feels right. As a result, they unleash an unlimited capacity for effectiveness. They use their collective sense of rightness to invite accountability. To create engagement. To drive empowerment. To generate clarity.
When culture is unhealthy, the accountability, engagement, empowerment and clarity needed are at best limited.
How is your culture affecting the execution of your revenue strategy? Can you see where things are working — and where they are not? Can you see how decisions are being made that reflect the culture? More importantly, what can you do about it?
I promised at the very beginning of this series to help you do three things:
- Diagnose and pinpoint where your own execution is breaking down.
- Generate quick successes to unblock your execution.
- Tailor your value proposition for your customers based on what will help them most.
As we close this article, please allow me to reinforce points 1 and 2.
To drive greater execution of your revenue strategy, pinpoint the breakdowns. Start with inspecting the five factors:
- Clarity: Are the goals AND roles clear, aligned and prioritized?
- Empowerment: Does everyone have the people, time, energy and resources they need to fully execute (and not just launch the plan)?
- Engagement: Is de-motivation keeping the team’s full capacity from being released?
- Accountability: Is trust genuinely in place and transparency not being limited?
- Culture: Is everyone’s sense of “rightness” healthy and aligned around both what the revenue strategy is meant to achieve AND how decisions will be made to execute?
You may find that there are gaps in every component above. That is normal. The key is now deciding where to generate quick wins to unblock your execution.
As previously discussed, start at clarity and work down the list. If improving goal and role clarity gets execution back on track, well done. That should be enough for now. If improving clarity did not unblock execution, address empowerment. Repeat the process until you have done everything can to start delivering the intended results.
LOOK AHEAD TO INFLUENCING POSITIVE CHANGE
In my next and final article, I will get into how to actually address culture in way that changes it. I will also link everything back to how you tailor your value proposition for your customers.
But let me leave you with a very important reminder: be kind to yourself.
Fixing how the organization executes the revenue strategy is hard work. If the obstacles are not easy to address, give them time — and keep working at it. If you discover that your leadership is the source of the problem, simply acknowledge it and do what needs to be done now that you have greater insight. And if you discover that the organization has gaps that cannot be fixed, know that this is also normal. You are not alone.
Influence what you can … and trust the journey.