It is that time of year again. After the holiday buzz wears off, many people look ahead to the New Year and vow to make it a better one. Some of these resolutions will be personal, and some professional. Many of these resolutions will not make it past Valentines day. Many won’t make it past the first week of January.

One thing that derails many well intentioned resolution makers is the relationship between strategy and execution. For the sake of this blog, let’s use simple definitions here: Strategy is what you plan to do, and execution is actually doing it. So where is the problem?

The problem comes when these two elements of a plan are done simultaneously. What usually happens is that someone may decide to try something different (such as implementing the sales process strategies from my book “Mastering Your Sales Process”). The planning part is usually not more that a vague idea about how to get started, then the execution begins. Because the plan was not well thought through ,the execution is not done well, and even when a step is done well, the next step is not clear.

I don’t mean to imply that every step can be planned out in minute detail, every contingency planned for and every possibility considered. People who err too far on this side can be rightly accused of paralysis by analysis. For them, the problem is that they never get to execution.

But the other side of the spectrum is also a problem. Failure to take time to adequately map out a strategy and give consideration to the end result, the paths that may get you there and the correct tactics to use throughout the execution of the strategy will also lead to failure.

Strategy and execution should be iterative, but distinct. Map a strategy, then execute it. Learn from your execution, refine your strategy, then execute the refined strategy. The difference seems subtle but it is not. Separate strategy and execution. Don’t do them together. When you make a strategy, do just that, then execute it. You may need to adjust mid-stream in your execution, so then AFTER you are done executing, change back into your strategy hat and refine the plan before switching hats again for execution.

It is analogous to writing and editing. Both need to get done in order to write well, but the activity comes from different parts of your brain. Your brain will write slower if you edit as you go, and your editing will not be focussed if you work on writing at the same time. In this same way, separate strategy and execution so that they dance together like separate partners, not mix together like the gin and tonic you drank too much of on New Years Eve.

Happy New Year, and best wishes for all of your hopes, dreams and resolutions!

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David