Think about the end, before you begin.

7 Nov

If you focus too much on tactics, or on executing a plan, you might miss out on some opportunities or trouble-spots. Painting yourself into a corner is not something you want to do in business.

Visualize the finish.

Just as pro basketball players visualize the ball going through the hoop, you must visualize your goals and the motions required to reach them.

I loved this picture because it reminded me of various situations I’ve seen where companies failed to anticipate what was going to happen.  For example, I remember a promotion called Free Fridays that Sprint (then just a long distance phone company), was offering to its business customer prospects. It provided free long distance, anywhere in the world, on Fridays, for one year. It was a great promotion, designed around the data that showed that Tuesday was the highest volume business long-distance calling day and that Friday was the lowest. Sure, it would encourage more Friday calls, but Sprint was betting that many of those calls would be repeated or followed up on, the next week (hopefully, not on Friday).

However, Sprint failed to anticipate how its salesforce would execute the promotion. The salesforce was compensated for a combination of revenue and number of sales. This promotion made the number of sales super easy to attain. And, if you got lucky, the volume of sales might help you reach your revenue target. So, what the salesforce did was focus on US-based, small Indian and Pakistan-owned businesses who had family and friends back in their homeland that they would enjoy calling on Friday, a slow business day for many businesses. As a result, Sprint picked up thousand of such customers. The problem was, these businesses often did very little international calling during the week. And, if they did any at all, they could easily reschedule those calls for Friday. Also, because the Friday calls tended to be personal calls, they would sometimes last for hours, not the typical four minutes of a business call. Sprint lost their shirt, while many salespeople earned their President’s Club trip that year.

You have to plan and execute, with the end in mind. Visualizing is a skill I’ve developed, where I can see opportunities, strategic partnerships, tactics and the end goal very quickly. If you can get that visualization communicated to others, it can be very empowering and motivating, generating momentum toward the goal. It can also help people understand the importance of the role they play in achieving the goal.

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