REMEMBER the last century? That was when most of the sales and leadership models that we still use were invented — for a different time, a different place and a very different pace.

20/10 is a measure of vision.

It is based on the more familiar term 20/20 vision, which describes “normal” vision — that is, a person standing 20 feet from an eye-chart can see what the person with normal vision can see at that distance. (In the metric system, the standard is 6 metres and is called 6/6 vision.)

Someone with worse than normal eyesight might have 20/40 vision — they can see at 20 feet what people with normal eyesight can see at 40 feet.

People with 20/10 vision have eyesight that is twice as good as the norm. They can see at 20 feet what someone with normal eyesight would need to be 10 feet away to see.

In 2010’s fast moving, ever-changing business environment, you will need to have 20/10 vision — that is, twice the vision of your competitors to stay ahead of the pack.

Do away with the old

Fortunately, this is easier than it sounds once you recognise the fundamental limitations besetting businesses going into the second decade of this century — and what you can do to rid your business of them.

These negative factors can be listed under two headings:

n Businesses that are trying to engage and retain staff using techniques from last century designed for a different generation.

n Businesses that are trying to sell to their customers using models designed in a sales-driven market, whereas today’s and the future’s market is buyer-driven.

In the last century, with a worker-boss relationship that had many parallels with the serf-lord relationship of feudal times, extrinsic motivators were all that were required to achieve the desired outcome.

It was all about carrots (commissions, bonuses) at one end, and sticks (target achievement, performance reviews) at the other.

Use intrinsic motivators

Leading thinker on motivation Daniel Pink — author of Drive and A Whole New Mind — defined the three most important intrinsic motivators as autonomy, mastery and purpose.

These align with what the experts say are the motivational triggers for Generation Y workers and many others from different age groups:

* They want a sense of control over what they do or how they do it (autonomy);

* They are attracted to the concept of becoming exceptionally good at certain skills (mastery); and

* They want to feel that what they are doing is furthering a purpose that is greater than themselves (purpose).

Those with 20/10 vision will be engaging and motivating their staff by using more intrinsic motivators.

New buying cycle

The buyer-seller relationship is changed forever. This is because buying and selling cycles are out of synchronisation — caused by the buyer’s increased access to information.

In the last century, or, at least, for most of it, the cycles were aligned. One of the main reasons was that the buyer’s primary source of information was the sales staff.

Nowadays, the buyer is likely to know more about the features of the product than the sales staff.

For example, before I bought my current vehicle, I was able to access every feature, accessory and variation on my preferred car. There was nothing the salesman could tell me about the vehicle that I didn’t already know.

In today’s market, the buying cycle has often begun before the seller even realises that a cycle exists.

For decades, I — like many of my fellow sales managers — espoused the theme: “It’s not about selling; it’s about helping them to buy”.

Now, you simply have to act that way — because buyers are so powerful.

There is also an increasing trend — as identified by the Harvard Business Review last August — towards “mercurial consumption”, that is, an increased ability and tendency to switch suppliers, further challenging the old-style sales relationship.

Smart sales professionals and managers will be moving towards a buyer-service model: It’s not about selling your product but assisting customers to choose the right solution.

For sales staff to have any confidence in their ability to gain and hold on to clients, they need to be skilled in assisting the buyer to deal with the decision-making challenges facing them.

This skill — which goes way beyond traditional sales methodologies — is best described by Sharon Drew Morgen in her latest book, Dirty Little Secrets.

This year and beyond will need 20/10 business vision in the way we deal with both our staff and our customers.

The methods, processes and skills that got us here will not be enough to take us to the top in the upcoming decade — yet the opportunity is there for those with the vision to take the lead.

Focus on the latest thinking in both employee and client engagement and reap the rewards.