HARDISON’S TIPS – SEPTEMBER 1, 2021 – How to Boost Sales Looking Forward
A popular proverb says, “Vision without action is a daydream, and action without vision is a nightmare.”
When it comes to sales, both vision and action are essential to sustainable, dynamic success. But how does a sales manager or sales executive put the right vision and the right actions in place to succeed? It starts with the sales vision statement.
Let’s start with the definition:
Your sales vision statement should be a clear, concise and future-focused declaration of where you want your sales efforts to lead and the path you’ll take to get there.
How To Craft An Effective Sales Vision Statement
Now let’s address what is needed to build a sales vision statement. It must be clear, concise and future-focused: Where are you going, and how will you get there?
Even though a sales vision statement is not meant to be detailed, it must still be crystal clear. Any sales rep reading the statement should fully understand its meaning and intent.
The sales vision statement answers what will be done. It does not need to answer why it will be done, nor should it be overly specific about how it will be done. The sales vision statement is a promise and a commitment. It is, as author and organizational consultant Peter Block said, a compass and not a road map.
The best sales vision statements are simply rendered, often with a single sentence. They should start with “We will …” and go from there.
Keep it simple so your statement will not only be easily remembered; it will be more likely to succeed when adding essential layers and details.
Successful sales vision statements focus on longer-term aspirations and more distant destinations (shorter-duration statements might be better communicated as goals, quotas or metrics.) While a statement might reference a company’s current market position, it should focus positively on a future that’s foreseeable, reachable and sustainable: “We will achieve …” or “We will become …” or “We will continue to be …”
Your sales vision statement might include a time element (e.g., “within the next 12 months,” or “by the end of the decade,” etc.), but this is not strictly necessary. Remember, by definition, vision is forward-looking.
Alvin Toffler, renowned futurist and author of Future Shock, is credited with saying, “You have to think about big things while you’re doing small things so that all the small things go in the right direction.” This kind of big-picture thinking, however, might be counterintuitive to sales reps, who tend to focus on short-term quotas and individual sales. It falls to the sales manager, then, to remind sales reps how their efforts bolster overall company success—short and long term. The well-crafted sales vision statement serves that purpose perfectly.
The sales vision statement should be forward-looking and strategic in nature, not overly tactical. Again, compass, not road map. At its core, the sales vision statement is the foundation for your sales forecasting. While it’s true you’ll need to know where you’ve been—what has worked and what has fallen short—truly successful sales forecasting focuses more heavily on leading indicators than their backward-looking counterparts, lagging indicators.
Lagging indicators include quantifiable historical information such as quarterly or annual sales data, deals closed and deals lost. This is good information to know, of course, but when such hindsight is used exclusively, your sales department can only truly understand where you’ve been, not where you are going.
Leading indicators, on the other hand, indicate what is likely to happen, based on current metrics. Examples include the number of sales calls, proposals submitted, conferences attended or even the amount of time you allocate each day to prospect for new clients.
These current data metrics represent opportunities to make strategic and tactical real-time adjustments. For example, it’s easier and more relevant to direct the salesperson to increase the amount of time they spend prospecting for new clients by 15% than it is to say, “You should have met with 15% more new prospects in the first half of the year.”