Vision and strategy? Check. Tactical new-business plan? Check? So why aren’t you winning often enough?

The companies I talk to are generally pretty comfortable (not always justifiably!) with their strategy. And they usually have lots of ideas for tactical newbiz execution. But they often voice similar issues around efficiency, accountability, and not getting results quick enough.

There’s a poorly understood gap between high-end strategy and tactical execution – it’s your new-business operating ‘model’.

What is a new-business model?

If your vision is the chassis and the legwork is the engine, then your model is the gearbox. It translates your sense of direction into a smooth journey. The crucial cogs – see what I did there? – include:

  • How you support your newbiz team
  • How much to invest and what are realistic returns
  • Who owns the plan and sets priorities
  • Who does what
  • How you know what’s working
  • Your newbiz headcount – levels of seniority, whether you outsource
  • Hiring specialists (e.g. lead gen., marketing/PR) or generalists.

So aside fewer losses, tears and fist-fights, how can you tell if your model’s working? Here are two pictures – both true – to demonstrate.

Agency A has no model

  1. CEO arbitrarily demands “let’s speak at Cannes!”. No-one disagrees. They splurge a tonne of cash on the gig and endless reworking of the deck, plus more on travel, accommodation and booze.
  2. It goes okay. Nothing happens.

Agency B has a strong model

  1. CEO suggests “let’s speak at Cannes?”. Senior stakeholders say “no, this healthcare conference is a better fit”.
  2. The deck is already written because it’s part of a well-established marketing plan. Something newsworthy is added, PR is teed-up. Clients are invited and hero’d on stage.
  3. Slides feature your @name, cool images and 140-character sound-bites. Agency staff patrol the floor with the same event-specific elevator pitch. Someone live-tweets. Useful handouts are under all the chairs.
  4. Content is captured and reformatted for clients, prospects, intermediaries, press, headhunters, internal comms.
  5. Pre-defined success KPIs are reported on. The process is codified and iterated at successive events.
  6. Conversations are logged. Leads are chased. Business gets won.

Clearly speaker ops are just one example. So multiply that story by, like, a bazillion and you see why your model is kind of a big deal. New-business needs to involve everyone, from top to bottom, working to one agenda.

Translating vision into action

Although your vision should galvanise everyone around new-business, you still need to smoothly translate direction into action. So if you’re winning new business, then your model is probably in good shape.

But if not, given that sustained success is built on efficiency as much as talent, personalities and aspirations, it’s no wonder things have gone awry.

Fortunately, choosing from the available models isn’t actually that hard. It boils down to understanding the dynamics, then agreeing a plan, putting actions, owners and timeframes against everything, and making sure you keep an eye on it.

That eye might belong to the CEO or your new-business director, but it can’t be a junior’s and it certainly shouldn’t be no-one’s.