As we begin a new year, so too do the strategic plan implementations for most organizations.  The question is how long will the teams remain committed to the goals and objectives spelled out?  With the daily pressure of customer gains/losses, the stress of making sales quotas, operational issues and product/service issues, strategic plans risk fading into the background until the next strategic planning cycle, when a new one is authored.

It is often like the personal resolutions many of us make to start the new year.  It’s become a cliché, how long is the goal actively pursued?  To achieve resolution results, many people may hire personal trainers and/or dieticians to help guide better behaviors for health and wellness.  That outside influence can be the difference.

What’s the equivalent for organizations?

Since we are consultants you might think we’d be inclined to say, “hire a consultant.”  While we love that answer, it is not necessarily the needed course.

One of the strongest factors leading to improved organizational behavior is an evidence  based understanding of what your buyers care about most when they make a purchasing decision.  It is much easier to get team buy-in and culture shifts to action when reliable customer data informs your strategy.

We often assume we know what buyers want.  Some get fooled through negotiation into thinking price is the primary driver. We know through years of market research data that price is rarely a top factor.  Team members frequently disagree on customer values.

Your customers will reveal what top values most likely drive their buying, e.g., accuracy, on time delivery, responsiveness, post-sales support.  Learning what these “deliverables” are simplifies your strategic planning process. It eliminates internal discussions about personal biases when the only perspective that matters is the customer. The strategic plan should focus operationally first and foremost on your customers’ top buying criteria. The net result takes care of itself, e.g., better margins, more market share, etc.

Once your company has achieved strong performance results in what your customers value, then that message becomes the focal point for marketing and sales in touting your organization to prospects.

Commitment and change is much easier for organizations when it is driven by confirmation of your customer’s needs. It provides your company with strong competitive advantages.  All of your employees must know how their individual efforts support the plan.  This connection between customer values and each employee’s contribution is too often left to chance.

When the team (1) has proof of what customers want most, and (2) knows their connection to those wants, you greatly improve the odds they will commit to your strategic plan.

Plan on an outside-in strategy, not inside-out guesswork.  The simplicity of focusing on a few key operational customer driven measures will do wonders toward making your strategic plan outlast your new year’s resolutions.

January, 2024

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