Often during a coaching session, I will ask a salesperson, “What is your vision for this account?” More often than not, they reply with what they are trying to sell or how large they want the account to be, almost always in terms of pure revenue value. Some might think of that as a vision, but really it more accurately reflects merely the desired sales objective. Next they describe how they want to achieve “preferred vendor status” or to be a “preferred vendor partner.” This limits vision either to what/how much they are trying to sell, or how they want to perform as a vendor.
One business dictionary defines vision as, “An aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid to long-term future.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines vision as, “The ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.” Rarely, if ever, do salespeople speak of vision in these terms. Instead, they talk about what they want to sell, not the outcomes that they want to enable the customer to achieve. As a result, the salesperson often ends up with relationships at the level where the buyers are managing the vendors, rather than with executives who are managing the business.
Many salespeople are so busy rushing to close business in the current quarter and responding to RFPs that they lose sight of this long term “vision.” However, help is at hand! Imagine a tool that provides a perfect platform to create such a vision. The tool is a three-step Demand Creation process, in which we understand our clients’ business environments, determine how we can contribute to their business success, and align to the most powerful political forces in their organization. This tool is called the Revenue Storm Value Messaging™ Suite.
The tool is built around the TIPS model. “T” is external Trends that create the changing environment in which our client’s find themselves. “I” is the Implications these Trends will have on the customer’s business, expressed as challenges or opportunities they might create. “P” is the Possibilities of how they could respond to these Trends and Implications, often expressed as business objectives. “S” is the Solution representing the proposed pathway towards our vision of how we can enable customers to advance their business.
We construct the message to convey our vision to key business buyers. Notice that nowhere in this story have we discussed “our stuff” (i.e. the products we want to sell). This is because this is a message about the business performance improvement we can deliver to the customer. It expresses a vision we have for a potential business case. The more we talk about what it is we are selling, the less opportunity we have to become a business advisor to the leaders of our client organizations.
So consider starting with the end in mind – the vision you want to cast, not the solution you want to sell. Do you want to be known as the most valuable business advisor, or just the best vendor? If you want to earn a seat at the executive table start creating your vision now.