Thursday, September 01, 2016

The ABCs of Sales - G is for Goals

G is for Goals

Setting goals is important for everyone, but more so for those who make their living selling.  Often time sales managers will set monthly, quarterly and annual quotas, and tracking the progress toward achieving these benchmarks is easy.  But you need more than a sales quota.  You need goals of what you want to achieve in all aspects of your life.

If you do not know where you are going, you have no way of knowing when you arrive.  There must be a strategic plan that helps advance.  You are well served when you set clearly defined and realistic business and personal goals that help you stay focused on what you want to accomplish.

Without a known purpose and a way to measure success you can invest a lot of time and see few results.  Chasing a sales number by itself will not lead to getting the new business and enjoying the journey of your career.  If you know what you are trying to do, and whom you desire as clients, then your choices on how to invest your time becomes easier to understand.

Some people roll their eyes at the idea of goal setting, mistakenly thinking that the concept is "motivational fluff".  They question if the act of writing down a goal has any meaningful value.  But it is not setting the goal that has the power, it is how the goal will keep you focused on the desired outcome. The target must be something that the individual wants to achieve and it must be realistic.  Goal setting is not about random wishes, but instead it is about creating an atmosphere that makes people perform to a higher level.

When you have accepted a set of goals there is no wiggle-room skipping out on the efforts.  Goals make you accountable for your actions.  Sales people who miss quota and are not doing the work to create a pipeline of opportunities are quickly exposed. An experienced sales manager will know when someone is not focused on reaching their goal, and those people will be managed closely and or given the opportunity to explore new employment options. 

Having clearly defined goals it makes it easy to make decisions.  This allows you to ask if a particular action moves you closer to your goals, or leads you in the wrong direction.  The answer makes choices easier in how you spend time everyday.  A goal transforms your participation in marketing, networking, prospecting, client relations, and community involvement activities into something tangible.  When a sales person understand the driving purpose of what they want, they will work smarter. 

Goals take time to accomplish.  Those who dream of a quick fix to raising their profile and making more sales, without doing the work, will be disappointed.  It takes time to become successful at selling, but there will be little progress without a goal.  It is too easy to get distracted and this can limit your success.

Sales professionals who create plans and work toward their achievement of goals are more likely to succeed in building a sustainable business year over year.  You cannot leave your future to luck.  

To successfully create a list of goals that are attainable, realistic and measurable you must dedicate time to creating your plan.  Everyone must have input and buy into the vision.  There are no shortcuts to formulating a list of attainable targeted goals.  Working with co-workers, your sales manager, or an outside consultant / coach is often a great way to get this done. Others sometimes have a knack for identifying strengths and weaknesses that are important for you to understand.

Having a combination of short-term and long-term goals is also a good idea.  Achieving some early wins will get you excited and helps you understand how having goals will lead you to more success. 

Seven Tips for Goal Setting:

1. Set aside some time.  Allow yourself 1-2 hours to contemplate your past and identify what you want in the future. Make it a priority to know where you want to go in life and all that you want to achieve.

2. Set two or three attainable goals in three areas: professional, personal and spiritual. You do not want to just be focused on business, as you have more to your life than meeting a quota. Do not set too many or to few goals, as this should not be too easy, nor should it be a burden. 

3. Write your goals on paper, using a pen. Later, transfer them to you computer. Print three copies. One copy for you home, one for your desk at work, and shrink a third down so it fits in your wallet or purse.

4. Review you goals often. Daily is best, but at least once a week. Keeping them in front of you and actively thinking about them will make it easier to make the tough choices as you go through life.

5. Take action. Goals are not magic. This is not "the law of attraction" or "The Secret". To be a winner in life takes effort and action. You have to make smart choices on how to focus your time and resources so that you are moving toward your goals and not away from them. Sitting still does not work either, as stagnant never wins.

6. Celebrate victories. Anything that moves you closer to achieving a goal is worthy of treating yourself to something. A round of golf, a massage, etc... are great choices (avoid ice cream or other sweets as treats, as I did this once and gained a lot of weight when I was wildly successful on meeting my goals. This created a new goal of needing to lose the pounds).

7. Share you goals with others. When you tell people you are working toward something, you are more likely to follow through on the efforts necessary to reach your goals. When I was writing my first book, I told as many people as I could. Thus it was not as easy to abandon the project.


Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies.  He talks regularly to corporate audiences in competitive industries that are sales focused and whose people are seeking success.

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