For many sales managers focusing on short-term day-to-day results, it's often challenging to think like a leader and focus on achieving a long-term vision. But that is exactly what a sales manager must do in order to maximize the performance of his or her team.
A sales vision is a statement that indicates where you want your sales team to be at some future time. Without a sales vision, a sales team may have lack of focus, difficulty prioritizing activities, or a feeling of drifting. A clear sales vision provides focus and direction for you and your team, energizes your team, and improves results and performance.
Of course, having a clear sales vision is only one critical element of a sales vision. The real challenge lies in achieving the vision. The V-G-S-T process is a powerful framework that helps you develop and achieve your sales vision. The first step of this process is to create the sales Vision.
The sales vision may be somewhat vague. In order to make it concrete and easy to understand for your sales team, you need to translate the vison into one or more specific Goals.
Next, you should develop some broad Strategies to achieve your goals. And finally, identify step-by-step Tactics that you and your team will need to execute each of these strategies.
1. Creating your Sales Vision
Creating your sales vision means answering the question: Where do you want to be? That means thinking about where you want your team to be with regards to sales within your company or relative to your competitors. A vision can also be focused on profitability targets or rewards and recognition for your team.
An example of a sales vision statement for a sales manager could be “To be one of the top five districts in sales in the company within the next 12 months.”
Notice how this sales vision statement is future focused and seems attainable in some reasonable period of time. A good rule of thumb is to develop a sales vision that is attainable within 6-18 months. Why 6-18 months?
Visions that are achievable in a shorter period of time are typically too narrow and too easily achievable to be true vision. Conversely, a longer period of time is indicative a vision that is too far-reaching and possibly too difficult to keep your team focused on.
A sales vision must also be challenging, something that is above and beyond the normal expectations. It should also be attainable, that is, realistic enough to be achievable if you and your team stretch a bit. Your sales vision should also specify some positive change that you are committed to realize through concerted effort with your sales team. In fact, sales vision grows from an intense desire to make something positive happen.
2. Translating the Sale Vision into Goals
The next step in developing a sales vision is to focus the broad vision you have identified by converting it to one or more goals. The more specific your goal, the easier it will be to communicate it to the team and the easier it will be for the team to understand it, commit to it, and work toward it. Think of the goal as your objective, or your destination. It is what you need to achieve in order to realize your sales vision.
The familiar SMART acronym is a great guide in setting effective goals: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. So if your sales vision is “To be one of the top five districts in sales in the company within the next 12 months”, a related SMART goal that ties to that vision could be to “Increase sales volume by 10% by June 30.”
3. Developing Strategies
The next step is to develop strategies. Strategies describe how you will achieve the goals. For instance, in pursuit of your goal to “Increase sales volume by 10% by June 30,” you could have increase your team’s sales coverage by hiring additional salespeople, run a special sales incentive program for the sales team, or target key accounts to grow existing business. Each of these strategies directly tie back to the goal.
4. Identifying Tactics
Now that you know where you want to go, what you need to achieve, and how you are going to get there, you need to identify specific action steps, or tactics, you will take to implement each strategy. In other words, what steps need to be taken, by whom and by when?
In determining your tactics keep these ideas in mind:
- Identify major activities or benchmarks. Just as you would note landmarks on a road map, you should identify key points and activities in your action plan to be sure you’re on the right track and are headed toward your destination.
- Define responsibilities and other resources needed. Each team member should play a defined role in carrying out tactics and helping to achieve the sales vision goals. To ensure successful completion of individual tactics, be clear and specific in defining responsibilities and how they will be carried out. Identify necessary resources and include them in the action plan.
- Specify target dates for completion. In order to move closer to your goal and reach it within the designated timeframe, set target dates for each action step. Target dates also create a sense of urgency and motivate the team to move ahead together.
For example, if your strategy for increasing sales is to increase your team’s sales coverage by hiring more sales people, a supporting tactic could be to “Work with HR to source and interview at least three qualified candidates within the next 30 days.”
While there many aspects to leading a sales team, developing and achieving your sales vision is a key sales leadership ability. Unfortunately, many sales managers are unable to formulate a clear vision, or cannot turn their sales vision into tangible sales results. By following the V-G-S-T process you and your team can reap the benefits of sales vision.
About David Jacoby