To understand what’s going on with an organization’s sales strategy or strategic vision, I’m a big believer in sitting back and reading the room.

Especially when consulting with and advising companies on tackling the big and hairy, yet exciting problems that are holding their B2B sales and go-to-market team back. Or when you have a bunch of smart people in the room that can’t break through the lack of clarity or silos that are in the way of tackling a big problem.

So, when I’m in these spaces and ask a question like “what’s your current strategy for tackling X?” … more often than not, the room goes silent.

Awkward pause. Make it a 10-count.

What happens next tells me everything I need to know about how clear and durable the strategic vision is. 

And that matters more than people know. 

Strategy uncertainty has more downstream impact than meets the eye

As leaders, we all know what it feels like, directly for us, when the vision feels unclear or not fully activated across our team. But, we don’t always absorb how impactful it can feel for those who we are relying upon to execute on the vision with us.

If there’s not a clearly articulated vision and strategy for the business:

  • At best, teams won’t be moving in the same direction. At worst, they’ll be working in conflict with the other team’s goals.
  • Employees will have nothing to rally around. Little that’s concrete to celebrate when there are major achievements or to inspire motivation when they’re in the thick of building, scaling and solving hard problems.
  • Tradeoffs and prioritization will always come to you. Your team won’t have a semblance of what matters most, nor be able to separate the urgent from the important.

Most importantly, though? 

Without a clearly articulated vision for what your team has set out to accomplish, your leaders are not empowered to own their numbers, motivate their own teams and innovate on how to GSD to achieve the results you need.

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What an unclear strategy looks like

So, let’s talk about what I see in the room when I ask about strategy and what each scenario means.

Strategy Scenario #1: All tactics, all the time.

Not bad in and of itself, a strong room of operators for your business likely have their heads down running the business. So, when you ask a question like “How is your go-to-market team currently addressing lead quality?” and you hear about tweaks to the lead scoring methodology, inbound prioritization based on intent data and firmographics, re-routing leads to BDRs or to nurture sequences or upping marketing spend in certain channels while divesting in others … It’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the best in B2B tech and those responsible for crafting your sales and go-to-market strategy should always be thinking about these things.

As a leader, though, it’s your job to ensure that your team understands the bigger picture. The ultimate goal that these tactics ladder up to.

Solution: better articulate the “why”. And do it often.

In advertising, the old adage is that a consumer needs to hear something 10+ times before they’ll remember it. In B2B Sales … it’s no different.

It’s basic human psychology – we ALL need to hear things more than once, repeated consistently over time, for it to sink in.

If leaders aren’t hearing the rollup strategy echoing throughout the organization – whether it be through the words your team’s teams are using or in the decisions that are being made day to day – then you’re not repeating yourself enough.

You can fix this:

  1. Evaluate your strategy statement: is it clear enough? Does it give enough clarity to the team for what the strategy means in their day-to-day?
  2. Infuse it into your own decision-making: we all model the examples we see around ourselves. When you’re making decisions in real-time, shed light on your decision-making process. If you are saying “no” to an idea or to an investment … how does your “why” factor into your call? Show it. Say it. Allow others to do the same.

Strategy Scenario #2: Team answers may vary.

Another common response when I inquire about the strategy of a business? 

The answer takes 5-10 minutes, and is a patchwork of inputs from across the team. A lot of “and, also” and “it depends, because when we’re selling to X…”

Participation and engagement from your team isn’t bad. Long answers aren’t bad.

But, when I’m digging into the overarching strategy of a business and hear a lot of qualifiers or different angles from across the team, what’s strikingly clear is that there’s not a unifying rallying cry that can bring together sellers to the Enterprise and your Rev Ops team. That Customer Success has a different idea of what, well, success looks like than your Marketing leaders. 

Or, that the overall company vision may be understood, but each team is applying it to their day to day in different ways.

The result? You can imagine. Conflict and competition for resources abound.

Without a clear idea on the overarching strategy, there can’t be a clear idea of the overarching priorities.

Ones that the entire team can rally around and apply to their work, day-in and day-out.

You can fix this:

  1. Ask your teams to articulate your strategy. In one sentence.
  2. Then, run an exercise to map the strategy to their team’s playbooks and goals. There are plenty of templates out there for goal-setting across organizations … OKRs are a good place to start. There are plenty of awesome examples of B2B Sales and Go-To-Market teams using OKRs successfully.
  3. Share. The cross-team. Strategies.
  4. Bring it back home. It’s easy to run this exercise and go back to silos and the nuances of each part of the business. Your role – and the role of leaders across the team – is to continue to connect the “how” to the “why”. Every day.
  5. Say it. And then say it again. In all of your kickoffs, in your email updates and when celebrating wins and reflecting on losses. Bring your team back to center by repeating your “why” early and often.

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Strategy Scenario #3: Your team doesn’t truly own it 

We’ve all been in this room and experienced the languishing that happens when there’s not true ownership of the sales strategy.

And it’s obviously apparent when you ask “what’s the strategy to address X?”, and you hear … crickets.

Chirp chirp.

Probably the most common scenario, it’s worthy of unpacking a bit deeper. 

Beyond meetings norms, team culture, expectations and your leadership style … if no one in the room is willing to stand up and own the strategic vision, then you don’t have buy-in.

Sorry.

That’s not necessarily an indictment of the strategy itself or your leadership style. But it is an indicator that the durability and ability of your strategy to move from words into day to day action by your team is at risk.

And that’s the whole point, folks.

Without a strategy that is clear, shared across the team and truly owned so that it comes through and is put into practice every single day … it’s just words in a doc. Ideas on a shelf. A vision that you have, but that no one else knows how to bring to life.

Your team needs to be bought in, understand and be driven by their ownership of your strategy and vision. 

You can fix this:

  • Bring your team to the table. Whether a strategy is already built and you need to hammer out what it means or you’re building/tweaking it currently … get buy-in by building together. Let your teams have input and shape where you’re going. You’ll go farther.
  • Shift your role from delegator to vision-setter. The best thing you can do to empower your team to own their part of the success of their work is to allow them to define it. With a well-set strategy, your answer when asked about competing priorities can shift from decision to context-setting. You frame up the why and what’s important, your team runs with the rest.
  • Directly tie engagement and incentives to your team’s strategy. From Friday shoutouts to incentive and compensation decisions … where you’re trying to go can be reinforced tactically by the way you motivate, recognize and engage with your team. Your people are how you go from idea to execution. Make sure they have a vested interest in getting to where you’re trying to go.

How Sales Assembly helps with Strategy

Strategy is data-driven, dynamic and durable. In my work with sales strategy leaders at some of the biggest brands in B2B tech, what we’ve seen is that the best ones:

  • Have clarity on their company vision and the go-to-market strategy to achieve it
  • Understand how important team-specific goals are to operational excellence and how cross-collaborative work fuels breakthroughs from good to great
  • Empower their teams to own their own development, from ICs to leaders and executives.

Through the S.C.A.L.E. Framework, Sales Assembly supports the strategy of our B2B tech members and their teams through:

  • Bootcamps and collectives, bringing together leaders and operators across B2B to build better strategies together
  • Strategy Peer Groups across all 15 roles in the commercial organization, supporting efforts to break out of the 4 walls of your organization
  • Advisory and custom training, so that the best practices in the market are tailored and implemented for your team’s specific needs.

Reach out to us to talk about membership for your revenue team.