Translating Strategy into Tactics

By: Nathan Wicka

 

Many top-level CEO’s can generate a great strategy or business plan. However, without considering certain key dynamics such as communication, team buy in, responsibilities and implementation of internal processes and procedures, many great ideas can often get lost in the process of translating one’s strategy into successful tactics.

 

Tactics are the “how” or action items/tools that are used to implement one’s strategy/plan. Using a sports analogy, the coaches provide the strategy or game plan, and the players perform the tactics or plays on field. After a loss, we regularly hear coaches quoted saying “We had a great game plan but it was unfortunate we didn’t execute. We will need to review the game video, make some tweaks and changes for next week’s game.”

 

Let’s go deeper by looking at one specific example involving Exact Medical Manufacturing (EMM). One of the many strategy’s implemented by our sales team involves EMM’s desire and goal to build a strong supplier/partnership relationship with all of our customers.

 

Having a great working relationship/partnership with one’s customer is a great idea and strategy on paper.  However, what are the key tactics needed to achieve this? More importantly, how does EMM successfully implement those tactics?

 

Key Dynamics Needed to Successful Tactic Execution:

  • The first step comes from the sales team and their communication with his or her customer (new or existing). “If you want to sell John Jones what John Jones buys, you have to see John Jones, through John Jones’s eyes.”

 

— An example regarding a new customer for a custom private labeled project I regularly deal with is understanding a customer’s project timeline or a current supplier issue they may be having. Also, for some custom equipment cover projects, understanding the application or functionality of the device or equipment being covered.

— An example regarding a current customer I regularly deal with is the understanding of one’s product volume needs or changes in product volume usage/forecasting. By having strong partnerships and open communication with my existing customers I am made aware of any unforeseen volume spikes or dips in product orders. With EMM being a made to order manufacturer this helps our team at our facility to better plan and adjust schedules accordingly in order to meet EMM customer needs.

 

  • Strong communication is not just with EMM’s customers themselves but also within the entire EMM internal team. Regarding EMM, this involves understanding each parities responsibility. Also, it is important to get complete buy-in from all departments (Cust. Service, Sales and Support, Operations, Engineering and Logistics).

— Think of each of the internal EMM departments listed as a spoke to a wheel. Any issue effecting one of the spokes, can negatively affect the entire performance of the wheel.

— EMM successfully executes strong communication within all departments “or spokes” by having regular internal update meetings on open projects with operations, engineering, sales support and customer service.

— Also, it’s because the EMM sales team has a general empathic understanding of what each different department goes through that it helps us set expectations and can better foster internal and external communication.

 

> This is why each year EMM invests in continued training of the Sales Support Team, and Sales Team members (at our NY and Netherlands offices). That training consists of traveling for a couple weeks to our overseas manufacturing facilities and working with the EMM CN team.

> While, I may not be directly involved in raw material ordering (timelines), or new supplier qualification, or any QA performance testing, I can see these internal processes/procedures take place first hand at our facilities, and it helps me better understand and communicate to my customer on processes and timelines. This in turn, better helps my customer when setting their own project expectations.

 

Even with EMM’s strong business strategies and strong tactic implementation, in the medical manufacturing of high volume and high-performance medical disposables, unforeseen issues can still occur. EMM showcases our value and worth not only when all is running smoothly, but how we react and respond to our customers when an issue arises.

 

It’s the strategies and tactics set by our President and Vice President, the partnerships and relationships we form with our customers and having strong communication, full buy-in, and understanding of each other’s responsibilities from all the EMM departments (“spokes” of the wheel) that contribute to EMM’s successful execution of our tactics.

 

Biography of Nathan Wicka

Nathan has spent the past 12 years successfully selling in the Medical Healthcare Industry. He has a unique perspective and experience in selling both directly to the end user and also as an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). His experience and understanding of each role in the sales process is integral and very beneficial in his current role as Business Development Manager (EMM US).

 

Nathan has both Domestic and International sales experience. In addition to the US Market, over the last 5 years, he has been successfully involved in projects that have taken place in the Australian, Canadian, European, Middle Eastern, South American, African & Chinese Markets.

 

Nathan is a self-driven, self-motivated & hard worker who really enjoys working with customers to help solve problems and grow business. He understands the importance of great support & customer service.  Furthermore, Nathan’s high motor and positive can-do attitude help make the high stress sourcing/suppling process an enjoyable one.

 

It is Nathan’s characteristics mentioned above, in addition to the price competitiveness and high-quality products Exact Medical manufacturers, which differentiate Exact Medical from other overseas medical manufacturers.

 

On a personal note, Nathan is a big Buffalo Sports Fan. He enjoys playing Ice Hockey and Skiing in his free time.