Every now and then we look back at our articles and see some that we consider CLASSICS. They were relevant then and are relevant now. This is one of them.
Almost everyone’s long-term dream is different from today.
So how do you stabilize today and move to tomorrow’s dream?
As the song says, “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” We all have dreams for ourselves and our business that we hope become real, but too often life gets in the way and the future looks a lot like today or worse.
What if you could use that dream to get you on the path so that it actually gets closer and closer?
First, as the wise man says, you “Must Have a Dream to Have a Dream Come True” — and you and your business need to be stable enough to focus on that dream. So get clear about your dream so that everyone on your team can share it with others and live that dream every minute of every day.
Think of your dream as your “true north” and make sure that the dream is measureable and deployable so that your team, your customers, and your partners know when they are on the path.
An example of being “on the path” is when your revenue strategy declares the niches you will dominate (i.e., those niches above the horizon line — see illustration). Then when the sales team brings you a deal from a completely unrelated niche (i.e., below the horizon line) you will know exactly what to do. Even if the deal is a large one that will make the sales person’s year and boost your revenue numbers above plan.
That deal that is definitely below the “horizon line” must be passed on — you say no. Use this example as proof of your focus, your commitment to dominating strategic niches, your need to remove the chaos by not being everything to everyone, and your integrity to your “true north” for all parties internal and external to learn by your action.
An example of an above-the-horizon-line-deal you can say yes to is when you realize the niche you have committed to dominating is larger than you had first thought: not just online retail but it also should include bricks and mortar retail with an online presence.
When you commit to continually getting nearer and nearer to the “dream,” you are constantly creating a better and better definition of what the dream is both today and into the future. By making intentional decisions about your degree of alignment the real world opportunities draw you to your dream.
Year one is mostly about saying no to things that are below the horizon line that would actually move you away from your dream. Not just deals, but marketing programs, trade shows, product development, members of your team, partners, channels, and investments of all types that pull you away from the dream. Everything you invest time, money, or people in needs to be above-the-line and drawing you towards the dream.
Year two is your transition year from becoming stable to living your dream. It starts with further refinement of what you say no to: you move from saying no to anything below the horizon line to anything below 45 degrees.
When you started down this path, not only was the dream not clear, but your whole revenue strategy was clouded by individual interpretation and vague language. As your whole revenue organization reviews investments and market opportunities, your culture develops a better and better definition of great business that is aligned to the dream, and your team has stories with real-world examples to share internally and externally.
They will share those stories and examples with each other, partners, and customers. This sharing creates greater clarity, more referrals, higher quality referrals, shorter sales cycles, and higher win rates. Your team will see the marked difference between the horizon line and the 45-degree stage almost overnight.
Along with the clarity of the problems you solve in the market, you become the “go-to” thought leader not only for the problems you solve through your product or service for those you say yes to, but also because those you said no to realize specifically what you do and know that you have integrity because you stuck to your dream. For example: you don’t just take a contract for the money — you only take contracts where you know you can solve the problem and make a positive difference. You are in transition to living the dream.
By year three you seldom have to say no — all of your resources are focused on where you want to say yes. This is when you are living the dream, and most everyone in the market knows when to call you because they know what you do, that you do it very well, and you are a company with great resolve .
In year three, since your culture already knows the dream, you can focus on how to enhance the dream based on your new collaborative culture, changes in the market, and everything you have learned from such a clear focus. You will see things and know how to deliver things you didn’t even know existed three years earlier.