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Selling Into Thrive Mode - using the VUCA Prime Sales Model


VUCA is a concept originally used by the US Military. It was coined to describe the environment after the Cold War when threats we considered to come from different sources that were harder to track, could appear and then disappear and that were highly confusing. It describes as landscape of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. More recently VUCA has been used to inform leadership and also provides solid thinking salespeople can use.

VUCA Model

In the commercial world the concept of VUCA can be considered a driver for change. It can be used to describe the chaotic, turbulent and rapidly changing business environment that has become the ‘new normal’ for organisations. Focusing on each element separately helps determine better ways of working to respond to change

Volatility – refers to the nature, speed, volume, size and dynamics of change in an industry, market or organisation. The more volatile the environment is, the more and faster conditions change.

Uncertainty – refers to the extent to which organisations can confidently predict future events and issues that may impact them. The more uncertain the environment is, the harder it is to predict.

Complexity – refers to the number, diversity and interconnected nature of factors that organisations need to take into account. The more complex the environment is, the harder it is to analyse.

Ambiguity – refers to a lack of clarity and difficulty of understanding exactly what the situation is resulting in a ‘haziness of reality’. The more ambiguous the environment is, the harder it is to interpret.

VUCA Prime

First introduced in 2007 by Robert Johansen, VUCA Prime is a behavioural leadership model to counteract each of the four elements of VUCA with a specific positive response. They are:

Vision rises above Volatility — when conditions are changing unpredictably, leaders should keep focused on the desired target state and vision. The vision should be a compelling picture of the future that aligns stakeholders around purpose and outline the nature of the benefits.

Understanding reduces Uncertainty — when uncertainty is encountered, explore and experiment in order to increase understanding of external political, economic, social, technological, legislative and environmental (PESTLE) factors.

Clarity counters Complexity — when faced with the unknown and unpredictable conditions that can only be understood in, leaders can learn to simplify where possible as clarity informs decisions and decisions enable execution.

Agility overcomes Ambiguity — when the future contains multiple alternatives, be ready to adapt the approach to match the desired outcome. Organisational agility is assisted by the ability to innovate and improvise.

In an ever-changing world, leaders must change their approach. Navigating in a VUCA environment should not be seen as a problem that can be resolved, but as an ongoing scenario that must be effectively managed.

To survive and thrive, organisations need to take a broader perspective when making strategic investment decisions in a VUCA environment. Rather than simply react to change, organisations need to move towards a more proactive response to change.

VUCA Prime as a Sales Model

With sales already shifting more than ever before towards using a more collaborative approach an effective salesperson can position themselves as something of a ‘servant leader’ to their customers.

The VUCA Prime Sales Model provides a means of doing this with the focus it gives to both self and others. It allows salespeople to prepare so that they are able to act more confidently to then guide customers more effectively.



  • Using the tech
  • Session overview
  • Personal objectives

Understanding Change

  • Moving along the change curve
  • Individual reactions

Aligned Thinking

  • VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity)
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
  • Sales best practice (Classic, Consultative, Value based, Enterprise)

Introduction to VUCA

  • US Military
  • Predictability of outcome vs Knowledge of situation
  • Commercial uses

VUCA Prime

  • Institute for the Future
  • As a Leadership tool
  • As a Sales tool
    • Head in the right direction
    • Pause and think
    • Define steps to achieve
    • Be able to change
  • Fitting the oxygen mask


  • Goals/Targets/Objectives
  • Purpose and ‘Outrageous Ambition’
  • Establishing mutual benefit
  • Start at Why
  • Inputs drive outputs


  • Listening and KYC
  • Generating insight
  • Structured thinking models
    • Gap analysis
    • MegaSWOT
    • GROW
    • Business Model Canvas
  • Telling stories
    • Formatting experiences


  • Acting with Courage
  • Defining steps and KPIs
  • Creative thinking
    • Root cause analysis
    • 6 Thinking Hats
    • Disney Strategy


  • Becoming more Adaptable
  • Using OODA Loops
  • Applying an entrepreneurial mindset

Action Points

  • Personal Development Plan
  • Contact Plan
  • Making it happen