Mission statements and vision statements abound in many business websites be the organizations micro small to the Fortune 100 size. Yet, very few truly understand the difference between vision and mission. This confusion to even lack of knowledge can partially explain why many sales managers are hurting when it comes to the goals to increase sales, build customer loyalty or improve profitability.
A vision in its earliest definition means to see and has been translated into the act or power of seeing. This is the big picture of where the executive team, business owner or even sales management, sees the company going. I like to call it the vanishing point on the horizon.
Visions change as do vanishing points on the horizon. What the big picture was 5 years ago may have been dramatically altered due to new product or service innovations or changes in the local to global marketplace. Wells Fargo is a great illustration of how they have altered their vision to keep the power of seeing going forward. Their vision has not blinded them as the case for many others organizations.
Now mission is entirely different. From its Latin origins it means to send, not see. Mission therefore implies action. For action to have value it must be measurable and directly connected to the power of seeing. Without the measurement, the old expression rings true, If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.
What would happen if the mission statement for a business or even a division within an organization had only 3 major and measurable goals?
Would there be greater focus on achieving these goals?
Would the consistent problem of failed execution be greatly reduced?
Would communication improve?
Would overall behaviors be better?
Would people be able to remember what the mission is and their specific roles in achieving the mission?
Could course correction be far easier to implement?
Could a new goal be quickly exchanged for a complete goal?
Would you as the sales manager have a lot less stress and a lot more positive sales results?
The mission statement should not be a vague, intangible statement indicating being the best, improving the quality of life, etc. It needs to be direct and specific. What may happen is that there may need to be a public statement where percentages are used and a private statement for the executive team because proprietary information needs to be kept proprietary.
For example, the vision statement may read to be the regional provider for a specific product or service. To send the team closer to this vision, the mission statement might read: To increase new regional customers by 25% annually while maintaining all existing customers.
Then the executive team shares this with all employees and provides specific examples of the behaviors necessary to more closer to the vision. Monthly communication then shares with the employees the progress of the current mission. Again, percentages can be used within these communication efforts.
Remember, your sales team cannot hit a moving target. Vague mission statements are moving targets in disguise and set everyone up to fail including you as the sales manager.
By John Benson