GMS will pursue a strategy in line with the experience of the owner, and implementation will be performance based and follow a clear path. Milestones are important to the implementation of this plan, and so is the vision and the will of the company's owner, Mr. Dawson. The overall company strategy is tied very closely with the sales strategy, that is, with the front lines of the business. One of the biggest threats to any strategy is that they can become too high-minded, and not literal enough to translate into action. This will not be the case with GMS, a solid company that hires top talent and achieves it's goals on time and on budget.
GMS has a significant competitive edge in the following areas:
GMS's marketing strategy revolves around a three-tiered focus. At the top of pyramid one, imagine a customer service ideal. This ideal is also included in the competitive comparison.
Pyramid two is focused on the execution level of all sales efforts. Not just as a goal, but execution as a strategy for building a stronger focus and building on what has already been accomplished. There are many tactics available in this pyramid, and those details are available in the marketing plan upon request.
Pyramid three has at the top a team-centric company culture. Tactics revolve around building this culture from the ground up so that it rewards innovation and determination, and management shows no personal bias or favoritism except when a salesperson or consultant is outperforming the mean. Although this strategy appears to be an internal management goal or company summary object, it is highly relevant to marketing's performance because without integrity standards and a consistent company culture, GMS's marketing will feel disconnected and unsupported, and will suffer as a result. A more detailed breakdown of tactics and programs related to this strategy is available in the full marketing plan.
GMS plans to develop and train 5-6 new salespeople by year two. Upon start up, the primary sales contact will be Mr. Dawson, but this will change as the revenues increase, and the company is able to invest in human capital.
GMS has a sales strategy that focuses on an initial needs analysis. Once the results of the needs analysis has been forwarded or described over the phone to a potential client, the salesperson will ask for a personal interview, a chance to sit down and discuss specifics. At no time should this be perceived by the potential client as "pushy" or "agressive."
The goal of this sales process is to get behind the numbers, and the business successes, to identify where the client's needs lie. Once this is mapped out, GMS will decide how these problems can be best addressed, and will offer both a bid and some action points. If the client wants to use the action points to move forward on their own, this is very acceptable. GMS's research has in fact shown that the clients that choose this path, often come back to seek additional information, and more often than not, accept the bid.
This strategy differs from the course often taken by large consulting firms in that the customer is not condescended to, or treated as if the knowledge isn't right there in their own heads. Often, consulting companies will send a large ego to clean up a client's mess, and find that the strategy backfires when the client only chooses to give the consultant the chance to bid. GMS's sales strategy revolves around customer service and empowerment, not condescension and sales "closers."
Sales forecast is based on the assumption that most of the revenue will be the result of consulting bids. The growth in retainer revenue is about 30% lower than the expected yearly growth in consulting bids of 80%/year. This may seem like an agressive number at first glance, but this is not a large company being discussed in this business plan. The smaller the company, often the larger the opportunity for exponential sales growth, and especially if the firm uses sound sales and marketing strategies to take share from the larger, less nimble consultancies.
The Needs Analysis service is listed only to highlight the fact that some outside information gathering firms/consultants will be used to compile the necessary information. This poses some risk because there are no costs associated with the Needs Analysis efforts. Nevertheless, GMS is confident that this product will set the company apart from the competition, and generate sales far in excess of the costs incurred.
The milestones table includes one listing each for the business plan and the marketing plan. Each of these are crucial to the long-term and short-term success of GMS. The other milestones are also important, but most are simply tasks necessary in starting up almost any business. Nevertheless, the most important milestone in this table is financial. The SBA loan will determine whether this company will have the working capital to operate for 5-12 months with little or no immediate revenue. If GMS cannot find the working capital to meet the minimum cash flow expectations set forth in this document, the company will dissolve and the owner will turn his talents elsewhere. Therefore, it is possible that the line item for "SBA Loan" may be changed to acquire family or friends as investors. Ideally it will not come to that and Mr. Dawson will be able to retain full control of the company, and direct it entirely based on his vision.