Monday, October 26, 2015

Myopia: a “strategy” for sales, business and life

As we dive into this topic, lets start with a definition:

Myopia: noun, “Nearsightedness”, or object being seen clearly only when near the eye.

It seems strange and a bit “off track” for me to be talking about and recommending “myopia” or a “myopic viewpoint” in any setting. In a previous essay, (“Over the hood & Over the horizon”) I commented on the challenges and the necessary balance between long range and short term approaches in business and in life. Keeping those ideas in mind, it seems more than coincidental that I keep encountering the need to enhance/improve the short tem focus in multiple client engagements and in conversations with family and friends. In that spirit, I want to share some thoughts about how to productively, and maybe strategically, be “myopic” across a number of settings.

“Myopic” in Sales: I have had the pleasure to work with a wide variety of clients, across a very wide range of industries in my consulting practice this past year. (for more on that, click on Recently I began work with a new client who was coming to the end of their “sales year,” unfortunately falling well below their sales budgets. There were numerous issues/topics at hand, ranging from uncovered customers, mixed reviews on new products, sales leadership competency questions, etc., etc. …. lots going on AND dramatically behind budget! My advice was to limit the distractions, narrow the focus, and begin a weekly review of the “sales funnel” and IMMEDIATE selling activities that might drive some improvement to short-term trends. While still missing the annual target, the latest results have improved, and the momentum going into the new sales year has dramatically increased.

“Myopic” in Business: I am working now with a number of “startups” or early stage companies challenged by trying to “manage” dramatic growth. One situation is of a high growth “natural foods” business that is booming, a very “on-trend” brand accelerating coast to coast. With a young, energized but small staff, the executive team is literally trying to “do it all” and is hampered by capacity and capability barriers. Instead of doing a few things VERY well, they are doing a lot of things “so-so.” In this context, I have worked with them to prioritize the most important and urgent topics at hand, then doing a second “filter” of those priorities based on which might “kill the business” if done poorly, or “save the business” if done well. While still a work in progress, this approach has narrowed the number of projects prioritized, allowing the team to focus and execute with distinction.

“Myopic” in Life: This is a tough area because I am a big believer in personally keeping the “long view” in mind, planning for the future and often “putting off” immediate short term “pleasures” for longer term objectives. In a recent discussion with a friend facing serious marital challenges, my attention once again turned to a “myopic” point of view. Filled with grief, denial, anger and many other emotions, this individual was floundering, unable to find any path forward. After a number of “venting sessions” where I just listened and let him talk, I started trying to focus his energy on the path ahead. While it seemed overwhelming, he had to find a way to choose one of three paths: 1) Reconciliation, 2) Separation/Divorce, 3) Current State. There weren’t twenty options, clouded with one hundred emotions, Just three possible roads ahead! Again we will see what comes of this advice, but the clarity has seemed to help.

As I close, this is not meant to be some simplistic panacea to the issues and challenges in sales, business or life. These issues and situations are real, and often overwhelming! When a situation seems “too big to handle” (of course remember “Aunt Lorraine’s Law”… take small bites and chew thoroughly) it is often helpful to narrow your focus and find the discipline to take on a “myopic” point of view to gain the clarity needed on the actions that lie ahead.