Jeff Beals is an international award-winning author, keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He has spoken in five countries and 41 states. His work has appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times.
The 19th Century philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “We aim above the mark to hit the mark.” He was talking about goal setting. As a sales professional, your goals should stretch you but still be reasonably attainable.
We are now deep into the fourth quarter, which means it’s time for sales professionals to prepare for the coming year. If you have not yet determined your 2020 goals, there’s still plenty of time, but start thinking about them now.
Before we go any further, know that goals must rest upon a solid foundation. That means your personal goals are consistent with your core values, and your business goals are consistent with your company’s mission and vision.
As indicated by Emerson’s quote, goals should force you at least a little bit out of your comfort zone.
But there’s a fine line between ambitious and unrealistic goals.
“Setting goals for your game is an art,” pro golfer Greg Norman said. “The trick is in setting them at the right level neither too high nor too low.”
There are a number of reasons to set goals. They help you match actual with desired progress and give you a regular mile marker to chart your progress. Goals clarify and quantify your needs and wants.
It is wise to have short-, medium- and long-term goals. Long-term goals would be in the 10- to 20-year range. Medium-term goals are in the three- to five-year range. Short-term goals are in the one-year range.
A Permanent Record
Make sure your goals are in writing. There is something very powerful about putting them in writing. Unwritten goals are no better than New Year’s resolutions, and we all know how effective those are! Once your goals are recorded, you can’t forget them. By putting them in writing, you are making a commitment to yourself to pursue these goals. You have made yourself accountable, since your goals are now part of a permanent record.
To make yourself even more accountable, share your written goals with another person. By doing this, you remember in the back of your mind that another person knows what you stated you planned to do in the coming year. If you don’t do it, that person will know you failed. That alone is a powerful motivator.
Choose the right person with whom you will share your goals. It should be someone you know and trust. It should be a person who can keep this personal information about yourself confidential and not judge you unfairly based upon your goals. If some of your goals are exceedingly personal, you could keep them off the list that you share with the other person. Of course, individual or departmental sales goals are shared with company leadership.
The more specific a goal is, the more likely you are to accomplish it. Goals should be quantitative or at least measurable. It is much better to state “I will attend at least 20 networking events this year” instead of saying “I will do a better job of networking.” You can see that the first one is very clear. The second one is problematic, because it does not define or quantify “better.” The goal, “I will increase my conversion rate to 70%” is much better than “I will sell more.”
A Sense of Urgency
For annual goals, you may want to add a time element for further specificity. Examples might include “I will eliminate 50% of my consumer debt by July 1.”, “I will generate $5 million in revenue by the end of the first quarter.”, or “I am going to give at least one presentation to a professional organization each month.” Time elements add a sense of urgency, which most of us need to be successful.
Don’t Be Too Rigid
Because we live and work in a dynamic world, goals should be subject to change. Unforeseen circumstances or new priorities could arise during the year. There could be external circumstances beyond your control that suddenly shift your priorities.
A myriad of happenings could force you to alter your goals. Don’t change your goals at the drop of a hat, but if something truly important happens, don’t be afraid to alter them.