Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Plan Ahead aka Ready - Fire - Aim

Remember those old Plan Ahead signs? I was reminded of this as I was following an interesting discussion amongst several of our members who participate in our Sales & Marketing Roundtable. This is a recent ListServ discussion group that got started on the member side of our site.

The subject under discussion was around the issue of what Sales says they want from Marketing and vice versa. If you have been around the business world for any length of time, you don't need me to tell you that there were some fairly strong opinions being tossed around. Sort of reminded me of a former life where such "discussions" often took place between Manufacturing and Sales which could easily have developed into a contact sport.

In any case, one of those contributing to the dialogue was Jim O'Shea. Jim has been and continues to be a very active member in these discussions, and always has major contributions.

In summing up the issue of making collaborative sense out of the importance of Sales & Marketing working together, Jim put it this way:

"Strategic planning provides a great opportunity to bring together sales and marketing, design and operations, and all other key functions in order to build not just a plan but a stronger team as well. The outcome is what's most important, but the process itself also pays dividends in building a culture of teamwork and collaboration.

You've all no doubt heard the saying, "those who fail to plan, plan to fail." I don't believe that failing to plan necessarily leads to failure. Many businesses succeed despite missteps. What I do believe is that the failure to plan leaves a lot of money on the table!"
Well said, I thought. It also brought to mind an issue that we at ExecuNet have seen repeat itself time and time again when it comes to how executives (and this includes very senior level executives, i.e. C-level folks) approach the management of their careers.

Maybe it's because so many of us fall into the type "A" personality group or maybe it is just a result of the "instant gratification" society in which we live. Not sure what the answer is, but I do know what the result often is, and that is people who head out into the marketplace following what I call the Ready-Fire-Aim approach and then lament the fact that they seem to be getting nowhere fast.

The more I think about it, the more it seems logical that all of this could come under the general heading of Sales & Marketing (or to use today's buzz words "personal branding") since in its simplest form, effective career management really is about both. We stumble when "we" are both the product manager and the sales force.

But if we think about career management in these terms, it makes sense that one needs to have a plan first, and not just any plan, but one that has been carefully thought through in terms of both target market and positioning within that market. Why? Because in more cases than we imagine, the buyer "doesn't know what they don't know" and they need the marketing and sales teams working together to help them see that we are, as we like to say here, "the aspirin for their headache."

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