“Like a poor marksman you keep…missing…the target. Kaaahhhnnn!!!”
- Admiral James T. Kirk
There was this one sales person I know that worked very hard, but he always seemed to be middle of the pack when it came to results. He had good skills. He was a good guy. But the results just weren’t there.
One day I got a chance to watch him in action. Early in the day I asked him what his plan was for the day, and he said, “Sell, of course.” There wasn’t much rhyme or reason to it as he plowed forward.
At the end of the day, I asked him if he met his goals for the day, and if he felt like he was on the right track to hit his sales and personal income target.
He didn’t have much to say on either point.
He and I would talk and he’d tell me regularly he wanted to “get to the next level” but we never covered details. So I asked him before we left for the night, “What does the next level mean for you?”
His answer was, “More!” Sure, this worked for Samuel Gompers, but it behooves sales people to put some planning behind it.
Come to find out, the barriers were:
- Lack of firm goals. In this case “more” by itself wasn’t enough.
- Lack of goals routine. He didn’t alter his habits so he’d end up with more.
- Loose action plan. He didn’t know what to do every day to turn his ‘more’ dreams into ‘more’ reality.
Like a poor marksman, he kept missing the target…but he hadn’t really set the target, so he didn’t have much of a chance of a bullseye, did he?
Rainmakers, those in the top 10% of all sales performers, believe in the power of goals and action plans. Those who truly want to reach the elite status don’t get there by accident – they live by goals, and they are committed to doing what they need to do to achieve.
There are two important things that set apart sales people, sales managers, and leaders who live by their goals and those who don’t.
First, people who have goals know where they want to go. Contrary to what you might read in other books about goal setting, you don’t have to sort out your life’s purpose in order to achieve success in sales.
All you need to do is set a target. It can be as simple as having an annual revenue goal, and having the answer to the question, “Do I really want to achieve this badly?”
Second, once you know where you want to go, commit to a goals routine. If you have already done so, bully for you! It’ll help you achieve. In any case, take care to keep your goals routine simple, and to visit it frequently.
The simpler it is, the easier it is to stick with it. A simple roadmap can help you build and stick to your own goals routine. Below is one that is easy to follow in your journey to sales success:
Review your goals first thing in the morning every day. Say your big picture goal out loud, then review your action plan for the day. This should only take a few minutes. At the end of each day, review how the day went, and set goals and actions for the next day.
In the time you might take to drink a cup of coffee (if you down it as fast as I do), you will have accomplished this review.
On Friday, or during the weekend, review the week and set goals and actions for the next week.
Do this with a colleague who can be a “goals partner” so to speak. Your goals partner can be a peer, a mentor, a coach, or a friend, but it’s someone you work with explicitly each week to make sure you’re on top of your goals, staying committed and pushing yourself.
Once per month, meet with a small group of people you trust to review what you’re doing, where you’re headed, what you’ll do in the next month, and get ideas for how you can achieve more and shake off any nagging hassles.
Once per quarter, review your progress toward your annual goal. During this meeting step back and ask yourself, “What do I absolutely positively need to get done over the next three months to achieve my annual goals?”
Set no more than three priorities for the next quarter that you’ll direct all your passion, energy, and intensity toward so you can stay on track.
Once per year, set your targets for the next year. Make sure you ask yourself, “What do I need to do to get to my big picture goal?”
When you’re done with your goals and annual plan, ask yourself, “If I get done what I’m about to do, will it help me get to my big-picture goal?” Make sure it does!
As you’re crafting your goals, you should also take your big-picture goal and check to see that it aligns to your shorter-term goals and actions.
Also, don’t let not having the perfect template or detailed tracking mechanism stop you from getting started. This is a form of goal procrastination best to avoid.
Some of the highest-achieving goal setters just write their goals on one sheet of paper and stick it in the top drawer of their desk. One person we worked with for years keeps a Word file on his desktop, and reopens the document each week to review and update the progress.
One caveat with goal setting: the process of setting them can shine a light on the fact that you’re not yet even near where you want to be. Don’t worry ‘bout it. Remember that the road to success is always under repair. Live by goals and you won’t get lost on the side streets, wondering to yourself why you’re not there yet.
The next step after goals is planning your actions. You can find a list of 39 planning questions and a set of tools to help you build your action plan at – http://www.raingroup.com/booktools.
I’d say “good luck” but you don’t need luck. Set your goals and your actions, and you’ll make your own. And hit the target.
This article is expanded content from our new book Rainmaking Conversations: Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation. Co-author of Rainmaking Conversations, John Doerr, also co-authored this article.