“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up somewhere else.”
– Yogi Berra, American Baseball Player
Last week we started a conversation about how to finish the a year strong and meet those sales goals. This week we’re going to dig a little deeper into one of the most important, yet frequently overlooked concepts that impacts success in sales.
At Possibilities Unlimited, we believe in being specific and measurable. Whether it’s personal intentions or a management mandate, every goal should be designed and communicated as clearly and specifically as possible. This is good for both employees and employers, as it clearly marks the playing field and defines the rules of the game.
All too often, the benchmarks of success are muddy at best. New employees are told they will be evaluated on “how much business they bring in,” “being a team player,” and “outperforming last year’s results.” These are all valid measures of performance, but they are not specific. And when the goal is not specific, the employee will make up his own version of what those goals mean.
For instance, if an employee is told he needs to outperform last year in order to make his bonus, he doesn’t know by how much he needs to exceed last year’s results. By 5%? 10%? We’ve worked with salespeople who will meet those minimum distinctions by September 30th. If there is no clear incentive to do more, they will back off the sales effort, or hold off booking deals until the next year. If they hit what they perceive to be the target, they will stop taking aim.
With only a few weeks left in 2011, it is imperative to know what your targets are and how close you are to hitting them. How much distance do you need to cover? How do you need to schedule your time so that you can meet that target? Where do you need to step on the gas, and where have you already won the game? It’s hard to hit a bulls-eye when the target is fuzzy or moves around.
A good employer will create precise and measurable benchmarks so that every employee knows what is expected. Write down at least ten specific things that would tell you this person is doing a good job. Talk it over with the employee so there is no misunderstanding about the expectations. A good employee will ask for specifics, and ask the employer to define goals and objectives. The players have to know where the goal line is if they want to have any chance of scoring. And it’s the well managed team that will score more points and win the game.
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