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Foresight: your best tool for future sales

Thought Leadership on Revenue Growth presented by United Sales Resources.

Foresight is defined as knowledge or insight gained by looking forward.  As we begin to contemplate what 2016 will hold for us, consider the impact of a sales strategy informed by foresight and future trend data.

The concept of applying foresight to business strategy is not new or revolutionary.  Marketing leaders, Chief Strategy Officers and CEOs, for example, often seek information on trends, trying to get a sense of what the future might hold before they set goals and build strategies.  But those of us in sales leadership roles are traditionally not as future-focused as some of our colleagues in leadership.  I have to confess I am not sure why that is, but it is something I have observed across the wide range of companies I have worked with over the last dozen or so years.  In fact, many of us who lead sales teams are guilty of not giving very much consideration at all to the long-term future when we set annual sales plans, quotas, territories, or sales strategies.

So what?

We sales people can turn on a dime and react to customer needs and changing demands relatively quickly. Why is it a problem for us to be short-term focused?  Might we be wasting time focusing on things that are yet to come?  Are there opportunities sitting right under our noses that we might miss if we gaze too far into the future?

I suppose the answer is, “Maybe,” but the explanations sales leaders might offer for their lack of interest in the future are cop-outs. Focusing on the future does not have to come at the expense of pursuing and winning new business today. I’ve written before about the false choice of “either/or” for sales leaders, and this is another case of that false dilemma. When one is focused on winning a piece of new business, then near-term thinking and opportunity planning is perfectly appropriate. When focused on building a business for the long-term, however, understanding what the future might hold and setting a sales strategy accordingly makes a great deal of sense.

While I appreciate the value of foresight when setting sales strategy, I am not a futurist myself. I am not steeped in the methods of doing future-focused research, so I look to experts like Michael Vidikan, founder of FutureInFocus, a firm that specializes in researching and understanding trends that will shape the future of business, society, and life, in general.

I asked Mike a simple question, “Why would a sales leadership team use foresight as they set a sales strategy?”

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