Sales Essentials Blog

Ditch short-termism for robust sales strategies

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‘If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will lead you nowhere’. This famous quote is usually attributed to the master strategist and politician, Winston Churchill.

Sadly, in today’s busy, noisy and complex world, this quote represents a common state of affairs for many organisations’ CEOs, Executive Leaderships Teams, Sales Leaders and their sales teams who are struggling to make sales, retain their relevance with clients, and generate profit.

Many are finding themselves in a race to the bottom price war which is not a strategy for success, instead it’s a reaction to short-termism which only leads to one’s demise if not addressed.

It doesn’t matter if you are a multi-billion dollar public company, a medium sized privately run business or a small start-up, to drive more and better sales you need an articulated, focused sales strategy and sales operating system that delivers the right action in the right markets now while playing the longer game.

The fatal effects of short-termism

Yet, many of these businesses are addicted to short-termism, living quarter by quarter only focusing on immediate results.  

What is becoming evident is that maximising resources for short-term gain has harmful consequences for the future on every level. The McKinsey Global Institute2 study found that while short-termism is rising, it damages corporate performance and it costs millions of jobs. It also creates excessive burn out in people and we see this over and over again in sales teams who are highly stressed and often compromised in trying to meet these quarterly targets.

The battle between short-termism and long-term business operations is one of the biggest challenges facing humans today. The McKinsey Global Institute2 study concluded that long-term focused companies deliver higher levels of economic profit than short-term ones, and that they delivered superior financial performance over time.

Short-termism is not a long term strategy, it’s an addictive reaction.

By contrast, Churchill was an exemplar of defining why you are doing what you do (Purpose), what message do you want to send (Value Proposition), where you want to go (Markets), what you need to do (Tactics and Actions) before setting foot out in the real world and executing a sound and reasoned strategy.

Sun Tzu’s, Art of War is all about long-term planning and strategies. So it should come as no surprise to find that the current regime in China has a 30+ year global and economic strategy for its place in the world while the current USA administration has none. Interesting times indeed.

Smart businesses are now realising that short-termism and profits alone are not the bar to be measured against as they offer no indication of future performance in a 21st century world. Smart organisations are building out a long term business strategy, which can be anything from 3 to 5 to 30 years+ and they are underpinned by an on-the-ground tactical sales strategy which is adaptive and focused on an 18-24 month horizon.

Sales Strategies take into account the many variables that make up a Sales Operating System and, like sailing, allow us to tack our way to the bigger business strategy goals. 

Selling Better Operating System

We know from deep experience that implementing a Selling Better Operating System and developing a robust sale strategy is the key to selling more and selling better.

Selling Better is about planning for our medium and long term futures, not just reacting to each quarter or putting in silver bullet solutions, which is the key to a successful and profitable future.  

Developing and executing effective sales strategies and sales operating systems that are applied over the long term is the missing link in many businesses sales success.

Author: Sue Barrett,


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