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Without a clear vision, sales team can’t know the goals
It’s often been said that there is no way you can successfully build something unless you have a plan. That’s true in part. Yes, you must have a plan, but it’s the execution of the plan that determines its ultimate success or failure.
For the sales leader, the blueprint for creating a high-performance sales organization is the sales vision.
As the leader it is your responsibility both to your company and your people to create a plan of action – a plan that can be executed by all, that will garner an excitement and willingness to achieve high standards, that will reap financial rewards for all involved and that enables you to maintain order, provide clear direction and, most important, clearly establishes you as the leader.
Your sales vision requires a great deal of time and thought. It is a message that you will want to deliver directly to your sales team in a one-way format – not in a conversational, give-and-take manner. It should not be open for discussion; remember, you are the leader. Your people expect you to share your experiences and expertise in leading them. Your people should trust you as a leader who understands them and who will design plans with their best interests in mind.
There may be one other key component to creating a strong sales vision. You may have to humble yourself and realize that in the past you did not do all you could have done to ensure the overall success of the team. For example, maybe you didn’t get out in the field as often as you told your team you would. Perhaps you haven’t done any sales training designed to enhance the skills of your people. Maybe you’ve fallen short in meeting one-on-one with your people, truly understanding their challenges and trying to assist them in overcoming those challenges.
As leaders, we all get swept away in the fast pace of the day. Sometimes we lose focus on where we should be best spending our time. So remember, be honest in your own self-assessment. That may lead to your humbling yourself in front of your team.
If you set higher expectations of your people going forward, and if you want to change some of their past behaviors, you must make them aware that you are willing to do the same. That involves a heart-to-heart talk with your staff – a talk which might start out like the following:
“This morning I am going to share with you my sales vision. In my opinion what I am about to share with all of you is a blueprint for success. Just like I have, we all came here to be a part of a winning team. We came here to make a nice living and to build a career path for ourselves. We all believe that this is the company, the industry and the products through which we can achieve our goals. However, as the leader of this team, at this time I don’t feel we are playing at a championship level. This in part is my own fault. I have fallen short in providing the field time, one-on-one time and sales training that you should expect from a great leader. That is going to change today. On the other hand, I also feel that you have fallen short in some areas also that are crucial to your individual success as well as the success of the overall team – areas such as promptness, activity and professional appearance. This vision I am about to share will enable all of us to exceed our objectives. I will share this with you now. If there are any questions or concerns, I will address those individually off-line.”
You are probably saying, Wow! Wow is right. You have just laid the foundation for the execution of your sales vision. Now you must share what you believe the team needs to carry out. You are in control and whatever is put forth now could determine the entire outcome of the success or failure of your team.
Following are some suggestions on what to include in the sales vision.

  • Expectations you have of the sales team. Be as descriptive as possible. Leave little room for interpretation. Also make team members aware that there will be repercussions if expectations are not met. I would recommend that you don’t specifically outline those repercussions when delivering this vision statement. Reference repercussions and discuss them in a one-on-one at a later date. Keep this meeting upbeat and positive.
  • Specific strategies for new business development;
  • Specific strategies on how to build the existing base of customers;
  • Professional appearance and dress;
  • Presentation materials;
  • Activity level criteria (prospecting calls, presentations) per week;
  • Accountability criteria (forecasting, sales reporting, one on one materials);
  • Promptness (sales meetings, one on ones, sales calls);
  • What they should have prepared when spending field time with you.
    What they can expect from you:
  • Consistent field time with each person;
  • Consistent one-on-one time;
  • Execution of a sales training program;
  • Continual assessment of skills and goals of each person.
    Executed with sincerity and commitment, the sales vision is the most powerful tool a sales leader has in achieving consistency, control and sales goals. Your people expect that from you. They want you to lead them to greatness. They will do what it takes if they believe they can win by doing it.
    The biggest challenge for the leader is not designing the vision but in seeing that it is accomplished. If you make excuses for why you cannot do your part, than don’t be angered by the excuses of your people for not doing theirs.
    Verbally share the plan with your team first, then give them a written copy. Make adjustments along the way as you see necessary but don’t deviate too much. Everyone’s success depends on it.
    Mike McNamee is president of Partners in Success, a Brookfield-based sales training firm. Small Business Times readers can contact him via e-mail at mmcnamee@execpc.com, or via telephone toll-free at 888-821-3181.

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