Developing a Successful Strategic Plan

I thought I’d provide some guidance in an area where I get lots of questions, plus there is lots of information (too much) available to help businesses but not typically expressed in a language that they can act quickly and simply on.

This is predicated on the business having an idea about what its Products/Services are, and what are the basic profiles of likely purchasers of these Products/Services.

OK … now that you’ve developed your Marketing Plan, you need to put it into action through the Strategic Plan and Sales Plan.  The processes of Strategic and Sales Planning is completed via 11 key building blocks.

1.  Potential Problems and Company Objectives:

First spot and rank the Potential Problems in your Company Operations.  Some examples of the areas that need to be analysed:

  • Cash Flow;
  • Market Changes;
  • Competition;
  • Costs;
  • Distribution;
  • Productivity;
  • Staff Turnover;
  • Market Regulation;
  • Market Acceptance;
  • Product/Service Pricing;
  • Quality of Offerings;
  • Customer Experience Management;
  • Capital Management;
  • Control Systems and Facilities.

With your Problems identified and ranked in importance and severity, you can develop Company Objectives you aim to obtain.  These Objectives should strive to minimize and manage the identified Potential Problems, while emphasising your Company’s Strengths.

2.  Risk Analysis:

Building on your Potential Problems identified in Section 1, this Analysis produces Expected Risks.  Look at Litigation Threats, Liabilities, Regulatory Issues, Major Risks and Problems and answer the following questions:

  • When are Problems plausible to occur?
  • What is the Expected Monetary Value of a problem if it occurs?
  • What can you do to mitigate the potential risks and problems?
  • How will you deal with these problems?

The last part of the Risk Analysis looks at how you can turn these problems into opportunities.

3.  Company Strategies, Tactics and Operational programs:

First develop your Strategies, then the relating Tactics and next the resulting Programs of work.

  • Strategy is Focus.  Strategy consists of key factors that distinguish your Company and are most expected to contribute to your success.  It is important that your Company Strategies complement each other so you are not sending your business in separate directions.
  • Tactics are used to implement strategies and relate to a specific Strategy.
  • Programs are specific business activities which have concrete dates, assigned responsibilities and highly-developed Budgets.  Programs relate to one/more Specific Tactics of a Specific Strategy.

4.  Sales Strategy:

It is important to remember that sales close the doors (deals) which Marketing opens.  Sales are dealing directly with your Customers.  Develop the Sales Strategy as it specifically relates to the Marketing Strategies you have already articulated.

If you’re trying to sell something that you haven’t developed marketing strategies around previously you will just waste time, confuse and alienate customers and burn-out your sales team.

Describe and develop the different sale methods and channels you will use to sell your Products and Services.  Determine your Sales Goals and your Sales Process.

You will also need to develop an effective Salesperson Training Program and suitable Compensation Structures.  You should also look at order processing optimisation, sale milestones expectations, price maneuvering, sales leads generation, distributor roles; credit and collection policies; how Internet, social media and viral channels will be utilised; and so forth.

5.  Sales Programs:

After developing your Sales Strategies, it is time to define the Sales Programs, which will address how your Sales Strategy will be implemented.  Once implemented, you should have systems in place to measure the implementation of your Sales Strategy and support your sales efforts.

6.  Strategic Alliances and Joint Ventures:

Define your Keystone Strategic Alliances and Partnerships.

Identify and develop Co-Marketing and Co-Development Opportunities; Sales Commissions and any Product/Service Agreements.

Is the fate of your Company tied to another Company?  Explain how these Alliances help your Company and any inherent risks that have to be managed.

7.  Operating Budget — Rolling Monthly Outlook (Yearly Basis):

The Operating Budget is a Planning and Control Mechanism which also helps you develop the Sales Forecasts.

It should be on a Rolling Basis 12-month basis, including Forecasts and Actuals.

Rolling Basis means after each quarter you re-Budget for the next 3 months, based on the Actuals for the last 3 months.

The Budget should be 12 months forward looking, as well as Financial Year YTD figures.  You should have Targets and Actuals so you can track results and adjust throughout the year as necessary.

Your Operational Budget should directly reflect your Strategic Planning Goals.  Determine whether it is best to use a Top-Down, a Bottom-Up or Blended approach for your Operational Budgets.

Ask yourself:  How will your Budget be used as a Control Measure?  How will your Budget be used to judge Company, Management and Key Employee Performance?  Your Budget is a valuable tool to use for Employee Management, Education and Delegation; Managerial and Executive Goals.

8.  Sales Forecast:

Using your newly developed Sales Strategy and supporting Programs, plus your 1-Year Operational Budget, you now need to develop a 5-Year Projected Sales Summary Forecast.

This Forecast will then be used to develop your Detailed Profit & Loss Statement in the Financials Section of your Business Plan.

If you’re an existing business, you can show your Historical Sales Trends going back 2-3 years, and how this trend will continue/improve based on the new (or revised) Sales Strategy.

It is VITAL to show how you will attain your Annual Sales Targets, and the Assumptions that have been used to develop the Sales Forecast.  The key here is create a Sales Forecast that is achievable and also believable.

It is also very important to show how your Sales Forecast relates to your Market Analysis, Target Market Segments, Sales Strategy and Marketing Strategy.   This ensures your Marketing Plan is a direct influence on your Strategic & Sales Plan, which then keeps everything (and everyone) focused on the Company-Wide Strategy.

9.  Milestones Table:

Your Future Company Goals, Milestones and Strategies, along with your Marketing and Sales Program rollouts need to be measured and managed.  The key way to do this is to define milestones for each key event/outcome, as well, as intermediate milestones that get your business towards the key outcomes.  As a guide, if an event/outcome is more than 9 months away you need to have at least 2 intermediate milestones to track against (that way AT WORST you’re 3 months behind if everything is totally off track, rather than 9 months behind if you didn’t have the 2 intermediate milestones).

For each Milestone Event you need:

  • A Qualitative Description – what does the milestone look like;
  • A Quantitative Description – a measurable number that validates you’ve made it;
  • Start and End Dates;
  • Budget Numbers;
  • Individual Manager, and Department, Responsibilities;
  • Dependencies on other internal (or external) groups to meet the Quantitative measure.

    10.  Control Mechanisms:

    What Mechanisms for Control of each critical Skill and Resource are available to you?

    Is direct ownership necessary for your Resources and Skills or can they be Outsourced and at what discount/premuim?

    What contractual incentives/penalties do you have at your disposal with your critical Resource/Skill/Service Providers?

    11.  Strategic Planning Advisors:

    Strategic Planning is such an important part of running a Successful Business, you NEED to retain a competent team of Professionals, Advisors, Experts and Consultants.

    An Experienced Business Consultant can be a very important part of your Strategic Planning Team, ensuring your Strategic Plan is not just effectively developed, but most importantly, effectively implemented throughout your Company Operations.

    The key here is that good Advisors have a very broad set of knowledge and experience, particularly in terms of what works and what doesn’t.  Why make the mistake somebody else has already made, when you can avoid the mistake and still get the benefits of the learning that would have come from the mistakes.  It will save you buckets of time and money.

    After your Strategic Plan is implemented, an experienced Business Consultant can also help you ensure the Strategy stays on track, reaches its goals and is adjusted as necessary due to market changes and unforeseen problems.

    IN SUMMARY:

    Some key things to remember, as a cheat-sheet if you like, to get successfully through this sort of a process as quickly (but effectively) as possible.

    Products and Services Development:

    1. Market Analysis and Segmentation
    2. Market Trends
    3. Market Growth
    4. Competitive Analysis, Positioning and Edge
    5. Marketing Strategy:  Positioning, Pricing, Promotion and Distribution Strategies
    6. Marketing Strategy Profit and Loss Projection
    7. Marketing Programs

    The above equals an Effective Marketing Plan.

    From the Marketing Plan, you then move through these steps:

    1. Strategic Potential Problems and Risk Analysis
    2. Company Strategies,  Tactics and Operational Programs
    3. Sales Strategy
    4. Sales Programs and Alliances
    5. Company Operating Budget
    6. Sales Forecasts
    7. Milestones and Control Mechanisms

    The above gets you to a Successful Company Strategic & Sales Plan.

    Once you have the Strategic Plan and the Sales Plan, you can build a believable set of Financial Forecasts.

    With all of the above in place, you not only have a bit of a clue about what you need to do, but have a comprehensive set of plans, actions and measurements to take the entire business forward to your financial targets.

    As the saying goes “If you Fail to Plan, then you’re Planning to Fail !!!!”.

    Feel free to contact us if you want more information, or specialist assistance in this area.

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