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10 Signs Your Strategy Doesn't Work

Written By: Andrew J. Birol

It is getting late; do you know where your company's strategy is? In spite of all your meetings, strategic planning efforts and company groupthink, are you sure your company has a clear business strategy? If not, your company is squandering its resources on the wrong efforts and missing good opportunities to grow.

But, if your strategy is focused, all the efforts within your company are much more likely to be successful. Here are the 10 ways to tell if your company's strategy still is not clear.

10. Your brochure makes no sense, not even to you. After showing it to a potential client, you find yourself chattering away to still explain what the brochure means. Your client accuses you of dieseling, much like a four-wheeler that continues to sputter after the key is out of the ignition.

9. Your website is confusing and few people click past your home page or e-mail you. Your clients give you a blank look when they are asked how they like your new site. The smart ones tell you that their 14 year old loves it.

8. Your compensation plan doesn't reward your executives for achieving your company's strategy. Instead of planning to spend their bonus on a trip to Hawaii, you find out they're booking a weekend in Sandusky and not taking their kids.

7. When a newspaper reporter interviews you, he or she leaves unclear on what your company does. Tragically, when you open the paper, you are not sure the reporter was even interviewing you or writing about your firm.

6. Your closest friends cannot give you good referrals. At a recent family get together, your friend tells you about meeting three of your five hottest prospects. But not once connects their needs to your services.

5. Your spouse cannot explain what you do for a living. When asked by her friends or associates about your business, she turns to you to explain it correctly. And when you encourage her to do it alone, you constantly interrupt her to correct her mistakes.

4. Your customers do not know that you are better than the competition. In response to your describing all the new features that your competitors don't offer, your customers don't seem to react at all.

3. You don't give the same answer twice when asked what your company does. You hear yourself sound like a politician moving from one special interest fundraiser to the next. Just tell me who I'm speaking to and I'll tell them what they want to hear.

2. When your employees are asked what your company does, no two give the same answer. Depending on the department they work in, they answer in terms of what their group does and often, it is framed in terms of how much better they would be if everyone else in the company worked as hard.

1. The reasons your customers say they buy from you do not match the reasons your sales force says sells your customers. As the old saying goes, people don't buy shovels, they buy holes. But worse yet, your customers are asking for building foundations and your sales reps are selling swimming pools.

While the war stories of companies implementing programs based on confused strategies are hilarious, the collateral damage on profits is not. Given the number one symptom causing people to change jobs is the stress of having no control, it's no wonder that the underlying problem is a lack of a company strategy. Simply put, set a straight course for your company's ship and everyone on board can row in the same direction.

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