Recently, I was speaking with a sales leader about the challenge she faced getting the entire sales organization on the same page, when it came to the company’s growth strategy and everyone understanding their roles in attaining that strategy. I mentioned to her that the balanced scorecard and specifically strategy maps are a great way to communicate to employees how the organization creates value and what role they play. She looked at me a bit puzzled, explaining that she was familiar with the balanced scorecard for managing company strategy execution but didn’t see the connection to her challenge.
I went on to share my perspective. The scorecard is balanced, because it contains four perspectives. Two are outcomes: financial and customer, and two are what drive those outcomes: the people and their work or internal processes. A strategy map follows this same logic but instead of being numbers in the scorecard, it has strategic objectives in an illustration or map format.
For me, the power of the balanced scorecard is the customer perspective. While the top of the scorecard is financial (typically a predetermined number or driven by the outcome of the process), the customer outcome (reflecting the company’s value proposition) is where you should start. It should be written in the same words customers would use should they realize the benefit of the company’s engagement and offering. For the sales leader, this might also include a consultative engagement, a trusted advisor, ease of implementation, and other important attributes—which customers would value throughout their buying journey. With the company’s value proposition to the market and the high value buyers’ attributes as strategic objectives in the customer prospective, we can now move to the work that all employees execute or contribute to in delivering on the customer outcomes.
Looking at the work or internal processes the employees execute, we find that it is not an exhaustive list of busy work. It’s actually the identification of the critical work people execute having the greatest impact on attaining the customer objectives. This represents the sales engine, and how all the various employees in or associated with the sales organization create customer value in the sales process and deliver on the customer objectives. This work is represented as strategic objectives the sales organization aspires to execute at the highest level. You now have an illustration to help all employees understand why they are doing what they do the way they do it—they can clearly see how they contribute to creating customer value.
In order for employees to execute their work at the highest levels, people-related strategic objectives must be identified. These objectives can take on various attributes like the sales culture, employee attributes, competencies, training, information requirements, systems, etc. This helps recruiting, HR, training, IT, sales management, and others understand how they support the flawless execution of the work.
The sales leader was surprised to learn how something she always associated with corporate strategy could have such a big impact on getting her sales organization on the same page, operating at the highest level, and delivering on her company’s sales quota by serving their customers. While this was a quick intro into the power of the balanced scorecard and strategy maps, it was clear to her that it is a great framework for helping employees understand how they contribute to creating value, as well as providing a decision support tool when in doubt of priorities. The bonus is they create the foundation for improving the sales operation.