Businesses: Four Pillars to Boost Your Commercial Execution
In their book “The 4 Disciplines of Execution”, Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling studied best practices of about 200,000 leaders in order to understand the best ways to execute properly on business ideas. They concluded that a proper execution can be based on four disciplines:
1) Focusing on the most important goals.
2) Measuring factors that you can influence and that impact the results.
3) Putting up a scoreboard that can show if you are winning or losing in five seconds or less.
4) Scheduling weekly accountability talks with teammates or peers to ensure that execution is on track.
Excelling in commercial execution will definitely drive revenue and promote growth for your business. Based on some of the above disciplines and on additional factors, and assuming that you already have the right product-market fit, I propose four pillars of commercial execution that will propel the commercial productivity of your firm:
Implementing and Measuring Commercial KPIs 📈
“if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” - Peter Drucker.
Implementing commercial KPIs is the first pillar proposed here as this will help monitoring the outputs of your business (lagging factors), by understanding the impact of the factors of influence for your business (leading factors). Examples of lagging factors are revenue, number of orders, or even number of sales. Examples of leading factors are number of leads, number of client visits, or even number of adverts published. Let’s take an example of a commercial prospection in the consulting industry:
- Lagging factors: number of commercial appointments, number of commercial offers made, average revenue per consulting assignment, annual revenue, etc.
- Leading factors: number of prospects identified per week (or per month), number of telephone calls made, [contact request -> lead] conversion rate, [lead -> commercial appointment] conversion rate, etc.
Keeping an eye on your lagging and leading factors will help you to identify the areas that need improvement in your commercial prospection process, especially in terms of conversion rates between steps. By taking the above example of the consulting industry, one agency may need to improve on [contact request -> lead] conversion rate, while another may need to focus more on the [commercial appointment -> consulting assignment] conversion rate. Sometimes, improving commercial execution simply starts by having the right tools at hand to sell; this is our second pillar.
Having the right tools 🔧
One quick way to increase sales is to enlarge your customer base by providing the right selling tools package to your commercial representatives. The objective of a selling tools package is to make the commercial representatives willing to sell, and above all to be confident in your offering. Thus, any marketing and sales tool that is developed needs to be attractive, easy and quick to use and easily accessible. Here is a non-exhaustive list of digital or printed sales tools that your commercial representatives may need to have to sell properly: two-minute pitch, two or three key selling points of your offer, value proposition, demo video or demo product/solution, brochure, proof that it works, sales battle cards, customer facing presentation, prepared objections and Q&A about your offering. If you work with distributors, the package will need to be in the local language of business partners. Having the right selling tools is a good first step, but you also need to motivate your troops as explained with the third pillar.
Dangling a carrot 🥕
Motivating your commercial representatives in the right way will definitely boost your sales. In his book, “L’Art de Motiver” (“The Art of Motivation” in English), Michaël Aguilar explains that there are five motivations for people, which can be summarized under the French acronym “S.A.C.R.É.” (meaning “sacred” in English):
- Sécurité - “Safety” in English: means anything that contributes to lowering threats and risks for the person. For example, a collaborator who is worrying for his professional future has a safety motivation.
- Appartenance - “Belonging” in English: corresponds to the social connections and the working environment that favors the sense of belonging.
- Confort - “Comfort” in English: means everything related to simplifying life. For example, a co-worker who is not ready to leave a comfortable professional situation to a more precarious one has a comfort motivation.
- Reconnaissance - “Recognition” in English: means the quest for affection, positive feedback and financial reward. For example, a colleague who is proud to be on the podium of the top performers each year is sensitive to the recognition motivation.
- Épanouissement - “Fulfilment” in English: corresponds to self-development, surpassing oneself, self-actualization, adventure, and novelty. For example, a collaborator who is willing to do something new is sensitive to the fulfilment motivation.
To boost your commercial execution, you need to ask the right questions of your commercial representatives in order to identify their motivations. Then you’ll be able to clearly explain to them that achievement of their assigned objectives will enable them to satisfy their underlying needs. Known and proven motivations for commercial representatives include result-related bonuses, commission-based remuneration, and sales contests.
Defining goals and monitoring continuously 🎯
Finally, having properly defined targets for your commercial execution, for your reps, and monitoring those goals regularly will certainly improve your commercial execution. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that people are 65% likely to meet a goal if they have an accountability partner. Their chances of success increase to 95% when they set up an ongoing appointment with their accountability partner.
Whatever the size of your company, those principles can be used and customized.