Sales and marketing

The Secret to Sustained Business Success: Disciplined Execution


Human beings are always looking for the secrets to success. Somehow, we want to believe there is the “one thing” that drives success. In sales and marketing, we are no different. We constantly look for that silver bullet that drives sales and marketing success.

Author: David Brock, president, Partners in Excellence
LinkedIn: David Brock of Partners in Excellence

And there is no end to those gurus or vendors that claim to have discovered that “one thing,” that enables you to be successful. It may be a new technology, it may be a new training approach. For some, social selling is that one thing, for others it’s prospecting (in whatever form that takes), for others it’s story telling, for others it’s just the web based content.

We move from one silver bullet to the next to the next, with the same results–we never find the secret to sustained success. Sure, these new things may drive short term increases, but seldom are sustainable. And then as our competitors are doing the same things, these secrets to success are no longer secrets and no longer unique to us.

We continue to search for these miracle cures, silver bullets, and quick fixes. The reality, however, is the secret to success has been in front of us all the time. This secret has been the same for decades, if not centuries or millenia.

The secret to success is Disciplined Execution

If we examine what drives and sustains great performance, it is constancy and disciplined execution.

Any research I’ve seen on what drives great organizational and individual performance, shows a number of things:

  • Great organizations aren’t any smarter than the mediocre.
  • Great organizations don’t necessarily have better or more disruptive strategies than the mediocre.
  • Great organizations aren’t any luckier than the mediocre (though they know how to exploit the luck better).

What separates great organizations from the mediocre ends up being constancy of purpose, culture, and disciplined execution.

Somehow, we think it can’t be that simple. But it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Disciplined execution is tedious, it’s detailed, it’s not sexy–almost boring. And perhaps that’s why we fail. We love the adrenalin rush of the next new thing, not the things that, when consistently executed, produce results.

Disciplined Execution: What It Looks Like

Disciplined execution has several components:

  • Disciplined people: People who have the personal discipline to understand what works and are driven to execute consistently. Disciplined people consistently to the things that work and don’t do the things that don’t work. And they do those things every day, they create habits that drive sustained success.
  • Disciplined thinking: This is a relentless focus on the truth, however bad it might be. It is a focus on facts and data, understanding what reality is, analyzing the information critically, to determine the best course forward.
  • Disciplined action: Taking what we have learned and acting on it–but in a structured way, focused on the long term. Disciplined people and disciplined thinking leads to process focused action. It is figuring out what things produce results and doing them consistently. It is adjusting and changing in a disciplined, rigorous manner.

Disciplined execution is hard work! But it produces sustained results, and the research around top performing companies reinforces this.

Over the past few months, many have read about the results we are seeing from the implementation of the Sales Execution Framework (SEF). The SEF provides a structure or model of how to look at the interrelationships between everything we co in maximizing sales performance.

The magic underlying the success people have in implementing the SEF is Disciplined Execution.

Afterword: If you are interested in learning more about this, this podcast discussion between Jim Collins and Shane Parrish is fascinating.

Author David Brock is CEO of Partners in Excellence. Read more blogs from Brock here.