ATD Blog

Develop and Achieve Your Sales Vision in Four Steps

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Many sales managers are forced to focus on achieving short-term, day-to-day results. Consequently, they often find it challenging to think like a leader—and also focus on achieving the sales teams' long-term vision. But that is exactly what a sales manager must do to  maximize the performance of the sales team.

A clear sales vision is a statement that indicates where your organization wants its sales team to be in the future. It provides focus and direction, energizes your team, and improves overall sales results and performance. Without a clear sales vision, though, the team may lack focus, find it difficult to prioritize activities, or feel adrift. Of course, defining a clear vision is only one critical element of achieving sales success; the real challenge lies in realizing that vision. 

Enter V-G-S-T, a powerful framework that can help you develop and achieve your sales vision. The first step of this process is to create the sales VISION. However, the sales vision may be somewhat vague. To make that vision more concrete and easy to understand for your sales team, you need to translate it into one or more specific GOALS. Next, you should develop some broad STRATEGIES to achieve those goals. And finally, it’s vital that you identify some step-by-step TACTICS that you and your team can use to execute each of those strategies.

Creating Your Sales Vision

Creating your sales vision means answering the question: Where do you want to be? The answer can focus on goals specific to your company or relative to your competitors. Other considerations can include profitability targets or rewards and recognition for your team. Here’s an example of a sales vision statement: “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 six to 18 months. Why this time frame? 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.

What's more, a sales vision must challenge the team (shoot above and beyond normal expectations) while still being attainable (realistic enough to be achievable if you and your team stretch a bit). Finally, your sales vision should specify some positive change that you are committed to completing through the concerted efforts of the sales team. Indeed, a good sales vision grows from an intense desire to make something positive happen. 


Translating the Sale Vision into Goals

The next step is to pinpoint the broader vision by converting it to one or more goals. The more specific your goal, the easier it will be to communicate to the team—and easier for them to understand, commit to, and work toward. Think of the goal as your objective or final destination. In other words, the goals are what you really 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, “Be one of the top five districts in sales in the company within the next 12 months,” a related SMART goal could be to “increase sales volume by 10 percent by June 30.”

Developing Strategies

The third step in the process is to develop strategies that describe how your team will achieve its goals. For instance, some strategies for your goal to increase sales volume by 10 percent by June 30,” could be to 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 ties directly back to the goal.


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—to implement each strategy. In other words, what specific steps does the team need to take, who on the team needs to accomplish them, and what are the deadlines? 

Here are some guidelines to keep 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 headed toward your destination.
  • Define responsibilities and any required resources. Each team member should play a defined role in carrying out specific tactics. 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. 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 forward together. For example, if your strategy for increasing sales is to widen 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 leadership capability. Unfortunately, many sales managers are unable to formulate a clear vision—or cannot turn the organization's 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. 
If you’re looking for more insight on improving sales management effectiveness, download a free copy of Developing Great Frontline Sales Managers. Check it out now to learn how to maximize the potential of your sales teams.

About the Author

David Jacoby is a managing partner at the Sales Readiness Group, an industry leading sales training company that helps Fortune 500 companies develop and deliver customized sales and sales management training programs. David is a thought leader in instructional design and the use of innovative technologies to deliver online sales training programs. Previously, he was a principal at Linear Partners, a sales consulting firm focused on providing sales effectiveness and development solutions to emerging growth companies. He writes frequently on the topics of selling skills, sales management, sales coaching and sales training. Follow David on Twitter: @DIjacoby  

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