Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning
Strategic planning helps you identify your business vision, mission and objectives, and the overall plans on how to optimally achieve them in the short, mid and long term. To be successful, the strategic plan and its key components need to be adopted and embraced by all key stakeholders. Each of the strategic planning components should be periodically reviewed and updated by these key stakeholders to address your changing environment and your company’s evolving capabilities. Failure to develop strategic plans that are embraced by all the key stakeholders and periodically updated to reflect changing conditions will greatly diminish your ability to achieve success.

Visioning

Visioning starts with the definition of success for your organization. From that definition, a company’s, division’s or department’s vision, mission and objectives are defined. External market forces, third party dependencies and internal capabilities are all considered. Your plans are integrated with any external ones. Participation and consensus by all key stakeholders are crucial. Visioning Workshops are traditionally 1 to 3 days depending on the size of your organization, the number of key stakeholders, and the degree of communications between these stakeholders.

Goto Market Strategy & Plan

New product, new release, add-on product. Should you use the same strategy, plan, channels and resources to take these products to market? One product is priced at $100,000, another at $10,000 and another at $250. Again, should you take these products to market in the same fashion? Finally, one product minimally takes 5 days at the customer’s site to install, another needs to be customized at the factory from special customer instructions and the other can be dropped shipped and immediately used by the customer. Should these products use the same market, sales and service strategy? The answer to all three questions is “no”.

Developing a successful market and sales strategy and plan involves understanding who the customer is, what their real needs are, how they want to transact business, how much they are willing to pay, how much you can afford to spend and the nature of the product/service that you are selling. Your strategy and plans should describe how, what, when, where and why you market and sell your products. It should include an estimated breakdown of how many units over what period of time are sold by channel. These metrics will enable you to fine-tune your program and adapt as the market changes.

Alternate Channel Planning

Twenty years ago, most products were sold through retail stores, field sales or mail order catalogs. Since then, many different channels have been created to promote, survey and sell products and services. These include TV, radio, newspapers and magazines to promote products and build brand recognition. Products are now also sold through super-stores, with other products, over the telephone, via direct mail/email solicitations and through the Internet. In previous times, expensive products would be sold only by field sales, or through a retail center where a potential customer could come and try the product out. Now, multi-million products are sold over the telephone, and cars are bought through the Internet.

Which channels are the best to promote, sell and service your products? What type of campaigns should you run, with what frequency and targeted at which segment of your potential customers? How frequently should you monitor the results, and make adjustments? How should you handle channel conflict? What type of discount strategy, if any, should use and should it be different by channel?

Planning, monitoring and adjusting is crucial to maximizing the success of your sales and marketing programs. And, existing organizations have a tendency to resist change. “It works, why change it?” Simply because the company will make a lot more money.

eCommerce / CRM Deployment / Customer Data Mining

Coordinating your interactions with each customer has a major impact on customer retention and you ability to sell new products and services into your customer base. Which customers are most profitable and which are least profitable? What types of products and services do the most profitable by and use/not-use?

Through customer data mining, you can determine which types of products and services are the most valuable to you and your installed base (note that they may not be the same), and which are the ones that you should consider discontinuing. If you have captured sufficient information and metrics, you can also tell which sales, marketing and service techniques, campaigns and programs are having the most and least success. Are you capturing the information you need and is it accessible when you need it to successfully manage your business?

With a customer relationship management (CRM) system, you can tell which customers should get priority handling (most valuable to the company) and which should get less. But, with the appropriate system each and every customer and receive targeted, personalized attention, increasing overall customer satisfaction, customer retention and sales. How you integrate the CRM system into your business and how and where you use it (i.e., business processes) is more important than the system itself. Are you employees finding your CRM critical to their success? Is it making each of them more productive? Did you see an increase in customer satisfaction and sales?

Overall web based sales is increasing each month. Customers are becoming more comfortable making both critical and timely purchases through the Internet. Are you ECommerce sales increasing? Have your overall sales increased? Web based purchasing should make it easy for the customer to make a purchase. Is your system easy to use, and meets your customers needs? Not all solutions are alike. Different customers and different businesses have different requirements. A B2C system is usually not appropriate for a B2B system. Which is yours and is it meeting your expectations?

Outsourcing

An operation is outsourced for one of two reasons: a third-party can perform the necessary functions better than the current and/or improved in-house organization; and/or a third-party can perform the operation significantly cheaper than your company can, even with additional investment. You should not outsource an operation if by outsourcing, you will significantly:

reduce the overall productivity and effectiveness of your employees;
reduce the quality of service offered to your key customers; or
have difficulty in timely moving the outsourced operation to another vendor, if the vendor does not meet your performance expectations.

When selecting an outsourcing firm, remember that a contract will not necessarily protect you if the vendor does not meet your performance expectations.

And, remember than when outsourcing, your business processes need to be modified, and some additional employee training may be required.

New Business Formation (Start-ups)

Whether your spinning out an existing operation, or starting a new company from scratch, we have actively participated in both. It is not enough to have a great idea or product, you need the proper team and plans, key customers, sufficient market size and adequate financing to succeed. No one ever has all of these ingredients when they start. Your success will be governed by how quickly you acquire these ingredients, how well you use them and whether you have hit your market window in a timely fashion. It used to be that hard work and perserverence was enough, but not anymore.

We can help you develop your plans, hire your team, identify and size your market, find and close those key customers, and advise you where you can find financing. We can even help you set-up your office.

Mergers & Acquisition / Partnerships

What is the difference between a merger, acquisition and partnership? Is the preparation any different between them? Are they critical to your short, mid and/or long term success? Why?

Ultimately, the success of your business will depend on your continued, profitable selling your products and services. Each product, service, market, and customer has an established life cycle, with a beginning and an end. Depending on their lengths, you will need to build relationships with and through others to improve the odds of your success.

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