More than half of all U.S. startups fail within three years, but data shows that growing businesses is even harder. Initial business success is too often the result of individual “heroic efforts” by a few, not a scalable platform for profitable growth. This is important for society (most jobs are created by ventures that can scale, not by corporations and not simply by new ventures) as well as entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, at big corporations during the past decade, production efficiencies enabled an average S&P company to reduce its COGS by about 250 basis points. But SG&A as a percentage of revenue have not decreased and selling costs have increased. Where should you look next for a source of competitive advantage?
According to Frank Cespedes, the most effective executives and entrepreneurs are those who can translate the company’s strategic choices into practical sales tasks for their teams. They recognize that, in any business, it’s human performance that drives operating performance with customers which ultimately drives financial performance—not (as in most planning processes) the other way around. In Aligning Strategy and Sales, he provides a way of analyzing customers and sales performance to make that translation, and link required sales tasks with actual selling behaviors and talent management practices for sustainable success. In doing so, his book can help to make your strategy real, by fixing disconnects between your planning processes and the requirements of hiring and decision making in the field.