Successfully Implementing Strategic Direction for Your Sales Team

By Colleen Francis

As a sales leader, you have a vision for how to accomplish your sales goals and fulfill on company targets. In order to accomplish your objectives, you need to work closely with your sales team and ensure that they share that vision. Sales leaders are often challenged with how to get their strategic direction implemented throughout the sales team.  There are a few simple steps you can take to achieve your strategic direction and fully put it into practice.

Step 1: Get the Sales Team Involved

First, schedule a sales meeting where you bring in your sales team and present the strategic direction. It seems intuitive, but it often happens that sales leaders understand their strategic direction, yet have never filled their team in, which makes it impossible for the team to help meet goals. Sharing your strategy with the team is a simple step and an easy way to ensure your team is on the same page and understands what the direction needs to be.  
In addition, it is essential to ask for the sales team’s feedback on how they can assist with determining and carrying out your strategy. Sales people typically won't do something just because they're told to, and their main motivation is hitting their targets. Involve them in your vision so they can understand how this is going to help them serve their clients and make more money. Sit down with the salespeople as a team and brainstorm each point of the strategic direction, asking questions such as:

  • How does this strategic direction apply to helping our client succeed?
  • How do we take an internal direction and really make it customer consumable?
  • How do we take that strategic direction and how does this improve the client condition?

Another question to pose is how the strategic direction affects daily work and what the team needs to do on a daily activity basis to make sure that the strategy is a success. Have the sales team create goals, objectives, measurements, or even KPIs around your strategic direction.

Step Two: Monitor

To ensure that your strategic direction is implemented, you need to make sure you are tracking progress. In your weekly sales meetings and your weekly coaching and mentoring sessions, make sure that you're measuring the sales team’s progress to implementing the strategic direction. If your sales team is failing, if you consistently allow them to not hit quota, or if you consistently allow them to get away with not doing the activities that they set out to do, then you're really complicit in their failure. It’s up to you to proactively monitor and tweak strategy to help them achieve their goals or change direction if they're not moving in the way that you want them to. This is a pretty simple principle, but it works!

Step Three:  Motivate Through Compensation

If you're really concerned about implementing a strategic direction, then make sure to pay the sales people to achieve the activities or behaviors that you want. Simply, align their compensation with the strategic direction you are trying to implement to motivate behavior. Here's a basic rule:

Sales people do exactly what they're paid to do.

If their compensation, specifically variable compensation, or commission and bonuses, isn’t consistent with the direction that you want the team to go, they will simply act in whatever way maximizes their income. So make sure your compensation plans, your bonuses and your commissions are fully aligned with the behaviors that are expected to implement the direction.

In three straightforward steps, you can successfully implement strategic direction within your sales organization. First, get them involved. Second, monitor and measure their progress on a weekly basis.  And third, pay them in a fashion that encourages them to implement the ideas that you want carried out. It will take some time and dedication, but if you follow these three principles, you can rest assured that the sales team will step in line with your objectives.

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Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions ( Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.

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