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Sales, a Critical Part of Business Strategy

A December 9, 2011 article in The Globe and Mail examined a sales-focused executive program available through Harvard Business School's Entrepreneurial Management Unit called Aligning Strategy and Sales. The primary objective of the program is to convey the critical role that sales plays in any successful business strategy.

"In business, when you say 'sales,' people perk up their ears because they know that, without sales, you have a museum," said Frank Cespedes, the senior lecturer for the Harvard course.

The program, presented through case studies, lectures, and workshops, covers topics such as what strategy is and what components are involved in its communication, according to The Globe and Mail. Students also learn about identifying what the scope of their strategies should be and the advantages that those strategies might have. Strategy is an important component of the program because, as Cespedes pointed out, many organizations discover they have goals and initiatives, but no strategy.

"Value is created or destroyed in the external marketplace, not in conference rooms or at off-site meetings," Cespedes said in The Globe and Mail piece.

However, Cespedes contends that sales is often overlooked in business school academics, something he intends to change by teaching senior managers in the program to effectively incorporate sales into their business strategies and goals. Graduates of the program who were interviewed for the article extolled the benefits of the Harvard program.

"My executive team and I left feeling more aligned with each other, and the vision of the company," said Blaine LaBonte, chief executive officer of Cougar Drilling Solutions, a global drilling company. "Our marketing also improved as a result, as we are seeing eye-to-eye again."