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Execution at the POS: Where the real magic happens

You’ve gone through it at least a hundred of times in multiple business books, magazines and podcasts. The formula for success is relatively straightforward: 1) You come up with solid well-thought strategic plan, 2) put together a great team in charge of it and 3) support them in driving flawless tactical execution. Easy enough right?

Most Fortune 500 corporations have in place a solid commercial planning process that somehow incorporates these three elements plus some of the newest buzz words we all have in the playbook: Disruptive innovation, Shopper insights, Customer-driven solutions, customized Value Proposition, etc. Most corporations also have a robust talent acquisition, development, retention and succession strategy that guarantee you a good team, so let’s focus for a second on the tactical execution.

I may be preaching the chorus as we all know that operational execution is the one element that takes a lot more of time and effort, but way too often I hear commercial leaders at all levels undermine the importance of execution planning; after all we’re too busy to spend time in ‘operational tactical details’, right? No matter your level in the organization, think again. We’re all responsible for the ultimate success of the strategies and if we neglect the ‘operational detail’, we are guilty of not being thorough enough and run the risk of having a great strategy failing due to poor implementation planning.

Every one of us that had been fortunate enough to be in a commercial customer facing role have war stories to share: Advertising is already running, but optimal distribution levels are not there yet; Top customers are tight on cash flow so won’t list the new product this cycle; the new initiative was not communicated to the point of sale…I know, I know ’operational details’, but they can make or break your strategy so it may be worth your precious time

Once the strategic plan is approved and key initiatives funded at the board room; you and your team should immediately go back to prepare a solid implementation plan, starting a process that goes beyond the internal walls and academic considerations where the street, customer and shopper reality hits. Planning for execution requires careful internal effort orchestration, clarity on roles & responsibilities, implementation timing and flow of activities, clear instructions to the customer facing team, agreements with key customers, impecable supply chain operation, training to the sales force, so on and so forth. The tactical execution is where the real magic happens. If you’re able to master its game and achieve long term consistency in front of the customer/shopper, you may be in your way to steal a few share points from your competition and get closer to the proverbial ‘success’.

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