1. Commitment to the futureThat the world is changing ever more quickly may be a cliché, but that makes it no less true: all sales leaders know that they need to anticipate changes that could turn into opportunities or threats. Yet the best leaders move beyond acknowledgement to commitment.
They make trend analysis a formal part of the sales process through systematic investments of time, money, and people. Building and sustaining the capability to take a forward-looking view of the market is not easy. In discussions with more than 200 sales leaders while researching our new book, Sales Growth, two common characteristics emerged: the mind-set of sales leadership and resource commitment.
Sales leaders must consistently monitor the macro-environment in search of sales opportunities, no easy task given the relentless pressure to hit near-term targets. Forward planning must be part of someone’s job description—not just part of top management’s lengthy to-do list—with sufficient resources to take advantage of the best opportunities. Companies have to be willing to take risks now to create sales capacity long before the revenue will materialize. More than half of the fast-growing companies1 we analyzed look at least one year out, and 10 percent look more than three years out.
After planning, sales leaders aren’t afraid to put their money where they think the growth will be: 45 percent of fast-growing companies invest more than 6 percent of their sales budget on activities supporting goals that are at least a year out—a significant commitment in an environment where sales leaders fight for each dollar of investment.
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