I have yet to meet a business owner who didn’t want more sales. Interestingly enough, those who have stalled in their sales performance, rarely have taken the time to set specific, measurable, achievable and realistic goals. Instead, we usually see leaders apply an arbitrary percentage increase across the whole business. Sometimes this works, but most times it simply wastes resources.
Where to Start That Makes Sense
Typically, we start with your financial results. We look at each of your main revenue streams by dollars and then by net margin. We are looking for the opportunities for growth and which opportunities will net you the greatest return. In simple terms, if you are going to invest time to generate a $1 in sales, which one will give you the most change at the end of the process?
The reason we start with the financial results is because ultimately money in the bank is the final measure of whether you have been successful in your sales strategy or not. Taking time to review where you are at financially in each of your key revenue streams ensures that your starting point is based in reality.
Developing Clear Sales Goals To Maximise Success.
To be successful, each goal needs to clearly outline what is required for achievement (the actions required) and success (what outcomes you want). Below is an example goal road-map that provides maximum clarity and visibility to be able to communicate and engage your employees on what efforts and resources are needed to realise your sales goals. This will work for any goals you want to set and track in your business – this just so happens to be a sales-focused example.
Our Top 10 Suggestions For Setting Goals
1) Write it down. Writing the goal down will give you clarity and focus. It is the first step in making a commitment.
2) Be specific. Describe the goal as specifically as you can. The more specific you are, the better chance of getting what you want. You can track your progress more easily and you get a clear sense of where you are headed. Instead of saying “I plan to generate more sales,” say, “I plan to increase the number of sales calls by 5 per day.”
3) Set a deadline. The deadline helps to focus on the task. It reduces the chance that you will procrastinate.
4) Make your goal something you can measure. Keep score. How far have you come? How far do you have to go? For example, you may say that you want to increase sales in Product A. This goal may be too vague. You need to think more in terms of measurable actions. It would be better to say, “This week, I will find three customers who would benefit from Product A and set up a sales meeting with each.”
5) Set challenging but realistic goals. Don’t set impossible goals. This will just frustrate you and your team in the end. The more you can chunk bigger goals down into smaller, actionable steps, the more obtainable it will be.
6) Do not expect to always achieve your goals and do not condemn yourself or your team when you don’t achieve them. We have little control over how things turn out and you need to remain flexible. Constantly reviewing your progress against your goals allows you to not only check progress but also tweak them as new information comes to light.
7) Think in terms of solutions rather than problems. Rather than thinking, “My goal is to not lose clients,” think, “my goal is to retain my existing customer base. “Instead of thinking, “How do I solve all my problems,” think” What solutions are available to me to achieve my sales goals.”
8) Set goals that are connected to your strategic direction. When your goals are driven by your core values or linked to your business strategy, sales actions become more meaningful and exciting. Make sure you and your team know why you are doing what you do.
9) Take immediate action. Make a phone call, create a plan, read a useful book, send an email. Do something to put your plan in action.
10) Remember, failure to achieve the goal does not cancel out your strategic direction. View failure as an experiment – take the time to work out why it has failed and tweak what you are doing. Those businesses that appear to be an overnight success have usually experienced a lot of trial and error to get the formula right.
How Do You Know You Have The Right Goals?
Now that you know what a good goal looks like, it is important that you have set the right type of goals. Here are some questions that every leader should consider to ensure the objectives are achievable and relate to your overall business objectives:
Are the goals relevant to the business?
Is the scope of the goals appropriate?
Are there too few or too many goals?
Are the goals coordinated with others’ goals within the business?
Are the goals results-based and measurable?
Are measures of success set at the right level?
Are goals practical or achievable?
Is achievement of goals under your control?
Does your business have the skills necessary to achieve goals?
Don’t Forget To Communicate The Sales Goals
When your sales team is more than just you, it is important that every employee understands how their roles relate to strategic objectives and the sales goals that have been set. In communicating the sales goals, ask yourself:
How much do my employees know?
Why should they care?
What is their primary interest or concern?
Do they have preconceived notions?
Do they have past experience with this?
What questions will they have?
Are there other burning issues that they will expect me to address?
Now that you have set your sales objectives or forecasts for each profit stream within your business (“the WHAT”), we will turn our attention to developing specific sales strategies to achieve your goals (“the HOW”).
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About The Author
Tim has vast experience in the strategic and financial management of businesses with a particular focus on cash flow and profit improvement, strategic thinking and performance reporting. He has extensive knowledge of business start-ups and acquisitions as well as exit and succession planning. Tim is an adviser with Supertrac, a corporate advisory firm specialising in business divestments, mergers and acquisitions.
Tim is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (FCA), Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) with the Exit Planning Institute (EPI).
If you have any specific questions or would like to suggest future blog topics, please do not hesitate to contact Tim on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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