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A Preview of Aligning Strategy and Sales with Frank Cespedes

Aligning Strategy and Sales

A summary of things you should know about Aligning Strategy and Sales according to Frank Cespedes:


In this episode Frank Cespedes takes a deep dive into his book Aligning Strategy and Sales where he brings business strategy and sales together in order to make your business scale.

In his book Cespedes teaches you how to bring together your strategy with the behaviors you’re going to need in selling in order to execute that strategy. The goal of the book is to offer a road map to articulate strategy in ways that people in the field can understand and that will fuel the behaviors required for profitable growth.

This book is perfect for entrepreneurs or CEOs who are looking to scale a new startup or create new sustainable growth of an already established business.

The Book’s Unique Quality (3:51)

The world needed a book that brings together strategy and sales. My book is not simply a strategy book or a selling tip book but it is about how to bring together your strategy with the behaviors you’re going to need in selling in order to execute that strategy.

The Reader’s Takeaway (17:06)

Value is created or destroyed in the marketplace not meetings.

A Deep Dive Into The Book (6:00)

I start from an assumption that I think is a pretty darn good assumption. In business value is created or destroyed in the marketplace with customers. The market includes the industry you compete in, the customers segments where you choose to play and the buying processes of the customers that you sell and service. If a company has a strategy, as opposed to a wish list, those factors should inform a strategy and that strategy sales task. From there you need to align actually selling behaviors with the required task and ultimately entrepreneurs, managers and incorporations basically have three levers to do that.

First and most importantly are people; who your sales people are and what they know. The second lever is control systems; the company’s performance management practices. And the third lever is the sales environment; the wider company context in which sales initiatives get developed and executed. I think companies can use this framework to do a few important things. First, make sure in their strategy meetings they are having the right dialog and part of that dialog must include what that strategy means for people in the field. Secondly, if you are a CEO, entrepreneur or an investor I think the framework can save you money and redirect how you spend that money.

The book has four parts. Part one outlines the basic idea and framework in the book and provides examples of what happens if you don’t think these things through.

Part two of the book is Linking Strategy and Sales. This part of the book focuses on the core elements of each side of linking strategies and sales. In this section there is a chapter that looks at the foundational prerequisite which is the presence of coherent strategies. Many companies confuse strategy with their value, mission and purpose and those are all important things but very different.

Another chapter in the book is about communicating strategy which is a very, very big issue because companies are typically very bad at this.
The last chapter of section one provides a step by step process for thinking about how to identify what I call the idea of core customers for your business.

From there I take you into a chapter about hiring, development and organizing sales people. The average American company has a turnover in sales somewhere between 5% and 30% annually. That means that every four years or so the average American company has to replace its sales force. So hiring is a very important issue.

The next chapter is about sales compensation and incentives. You must think about the appropriate compensation system as a necessary but not sufficient cause of getting the behavior that you want.

The final chapter in that portion of the book looks at a key the dimension of sales performance do’s which in my experience is probably the most underutilized lever for effecting behavior in most companies.

The final portion of the book is called closing which is about making connections. The connections I am talking about in those final two chapters are of two sorts. One is developing sales managers that can actually manage. The other is about the cross functional connections that require for effective selling.

NOTE: That was just a summary. To get the full deep dive, play the audio clip at 06:00

Notable Quotes From The Book (20:10)

“The desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” – John le Carre

The Credibility/Inspiration Of The Author (0:37)

I am currently a professor at Harvard Business School. I was a professor at Harvard for 11 years before leaving to run a business for 12 years, sold the business and returned to Harvard about five years ago.

My academic research always focused on go-to market elements including channels and sales management but when I left Harvard and ran a business for 12 years I had to meet payroll and sales. After getting lucky in business and returning to Harvard I taught strategy for a few years. The fact is that despite decades of attention to so called strategic planning there really is remarkably little research about how to link strategy with the nitty-gritty of field execution.

Other Books Recommended By The Author (21:43)

Managing for Results by Peter Drucker

More Information About This Book and The Author

Buy Aligning Strategy and Sales by Frank Cespedes on Amazon today
Visit FrankCespedes.com to learn more about Frank

More Information About This Episode

Download the full transcript here (coming soon)

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher , and SoundCloud

Related books:
Hyper Sales Growth by Jack Daly
High Profit Selling by Mark Hunter
The Trusted Advisor by Robert Galford

Relevant advice and tips:
7 Reasons Why Your Sales Skills Suck

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Wade is a 4-time serial entrepreneur and is the Founder/Host of The Entrepreneurs Library. With a long time passion for reading books, Wade created an online resource and podcast for entrepreneurs who love to read personal and business development books. His long-term goal in life is to start an entrepreneurial home schooling program for children of business-minded families.