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Habits of Hyper-growth Sales #3: Embrace Ambiguity and Complexity

(This post appeared originally on LinkedIn here)

Last week I spoke about how planning for a longer term automatically establishes a much bigger target to go after. But planning longer term comes at a price called risk: The further we look into the future the more unknowns we come across and the less stable our initial assumptions become.

Five years into the future almost everything looks very ambiguous and complex. That’s why most Incumbents avoid it and focus on linear, incremental innovations to sell them to their existing customers building on top of their large installed base.

To beat them a Disruptor must do the exact opposite and go where the Incumbents shy away from: re-imagine the world, question all assumptions, build a new, non-traditional, still-to-be-proven value proposition.

In other words: We need to go where ambiguity and complexity are overwhelming the faint-hearted!

One day we held the final check on a narrative going to Andy Jassy when he was still CEO of AWS and a colleague asked to call out the fact that AWS had never done something like the investment we proposed before. One of the EVPs declined stating that “doing things we have never done before is our business and hence we don’t have to call it out as a risk”!

In hyper-growth sales ambiguity and complexity are your best friends so you need to develop the skills to deal with them.

Work backwards from the outsized target you set yourself (I’m not talking about quota here but the legacy you want to build) and list all the assumptions behind it. Next qualify these assumptions for stability and criticality and focus on the ones instable and critical to your target achievement.

Build scenarios by varying your assumptions and dive deep to make them more stable or prove them as wrong. Focus on two to three scenarios as betting on one means you don’t have a Plan B while dealing with more will dilute your attention.

Openly communicate the risks for your target achievement in your portfolio or account plan and how you plan to mitigate them one by one.

Knowing these risks and how to mitigate them gets you already half the way, the rest is execution.

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