Setting Sales Goals

Originally published: 11.01.07 by Tom Piscitelli


Not having a goal is like being a cork in the water that will end up where the wind and tide take it.

Many of us resist setting goals because of the feeling of failure when we don’t achieve them. However, goal setting is a highly effective behavior that will virtually guarantee the desired results are achieved. What are realistic sales goals? Is simply setting a goal enough? Who should be accountable for keeping track of progress? What should happen if the goal is met, exceeded, or not met?

Goal-Setting to Create Business Success

Setting goals, and working toward them, helps us accomplish what we want. It’s easy to spend our business life in a reactive mode — putting out the endless fires that flare up — without ever taking the time to think about where we want the business to be in five, 10 or 20 years and what we need to do to get there.

There is something that happens when we decide on and, in particular, write down a goal. The writing down part of the goal-setting process commits us. Studies have shown that the written goal not only keeps the goal in our consciousness, but in our unconscious as

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well. Our decisions are more likely to align themselves with what we want to accomplish.

To illustrate, Harvard and Yale Universities tracked the results of goal-setting. They surveyed people at graduation and found that 3% of the graduates had written goals and strategies for achieving them; 10% had goals in mind, but no written strategies; 60% had wishes and dreams; 27% didn’t have a clue. Twenty years later, the surviving members of the classes demonstrated the awesome power of written goals: the 3% who had written goals were worth more than the other 97% combined. 

Being accountable to yourself for creating your future isn’t a new thought. The idea “you create what you think about” can be traced back to ancient times and found in literature throughout history. Napoleon Hill’s classic book, “Think and Grow Rich,” written in 1937, revealed the power of goal-setting that the leaders of the most successful businesses had practiced. Among the many messages is the famous quote, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

Additionally, setting meaningful company goals can be very motivating. With each achievement, team members become increasingly confident and optimistic about the future. And it’s fun!

Characteristics of Good Goals

  • Goals must be measurable. “Sell more” sounds good but it’s not nearly as good as “Sell 10.” 
  • Goals must be timed. “Sell 10” isn’t as good as “Sell 10 in 30 days.” 
  • Goals must be written. You are not committed if you aren’t willing to write it down. 

Strategies: How Will You Reach The Goal?

Now that you realize the importance and power of goal-setting, the next step is to consider how you intend to get there. A strategy is a written statement of “how” without the step-by-step details (that’s called a plan, which we’ll get to next).

For example, if the goal is “Sell 10 in 30 days,” then the strategy might be: “Door-to-door canvass the Brook Trails community to generate enough leads to make the sales goal.” Or, “Send a personal letter to past customers asking them for referrals.”

Plans: The Step-By-Step Roadmap

Now it’s time to write out the specifics that support the strategy. This doesn’t have to be a 30-page book. In fact, the goal, strategy and plan should fit on a single page.

Let’s consider the “Canvassing Brook Trails” strategy. The plan might be:

Confirm that canvassing is allowed by contacting the King County Business Office. Get a permit if required. 

Get a referral from Rich on which canvassing company to use. 

Hire and train one professional canvasser. 

Set daily goals for homes contacted and leads generated. (Initial short-term goal: four leads per canvasser per day.) 

Track the results. 

Follow up on all leads with a phone call the same night and make the sales presentation within 24 hours or as soon as the customer is available. 

Stay on Track

Rare is the plan that works exactly as planned. No one can predict the inevitable surprises that occur on any journey. In anticipation of this, it is critical to continuously monitor results, compare them to the plan and make appropriate adjustments. While this sounds simple, if monitoring and adjustments are not consistently done then frustration and failure are the inevitable results.

Fear of Goal-Setting

Many will say that they do not set goals because they have a fear of failure. Our cultural conditioning around “win/lose” thinking is a likely contributor to this by creating the self-judgment that we are a “loser” if we don’t hit the numbers. Win/lose thinking is an obstacle to creating more success. To address this, think of the goal as a target we are aiming for. Hitting the target isn’t as important as having a destination point and a roadmap to follow. The target gives us purpose and focus, and we will be more effective by having both.

Goals, Strategies and Plans for the Sales Person Next month I will discuss reviewing results with the sales person, providing constructive feedback and keeping the sales person on track. For now, see the example of an evaluation in the HVACR Business download center www.hvacrbusiness.com/downloadcenter that would be appropriate for a full-time hvac in-home sales person.

Tom Piscitelli is president of T.R.U.S.T.® Training and Consulting. For more information on how his System Selling In-Home Sales Call Training DVD, CD and Self-Study Workbook can help you sell more jobs at higher margins and higher prices go to www.sellingtrust.com



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