By: Tibor Shanto
on Monday, October 22, 2012
Setting goals is the key to success in any endeavor, no less so in business and revenue driving activities. While the size of the business may dictate the goal setting process, small and medium business owners are probably involved in setting more goals for more areas of the business than their counterparts in bigger companies, mostly because they wear more hats and are more directly engaged in more goal driven functions.
Many are very good at setting large and long term goals, documenting the goals and the actions that need to be taken to achieve them. But when it comes to sales they often ease up, when in fact they should be setting more short term goals.
This unfolds in two ways based on the nature of the business. If it is a business that has dedicated sales people, and the owner is in the role of sales manager (one of their many roles), they tend not to get involved in the day to day management of the sales people. They make the assumption that they hired sales professionals and believe that they need not set short term goals, especially activity based goals. They work with their reps to set annual targets, big picture stuff, and assume that the reps will manage things from there. This is where their lack of sale management lets them down. They should also be setting short term weekly goals, focusing on activities that drive interaction with buyers, drive proposals, and ultimately sales.
Being more entrepreneurial than their corporate counterparts, they don’t want to “micro manage” the sales reps and give them the degree of latitude they would expect. Except they are not the sales people, and they should be setting near term goals, goals for every stage of the sales. This creates focus without “micro management,” allowing the owner and rep to fine tune their sales while they are unfolding and change the outcome for the better. It also creates the need to have a regular review, allowing both the rep to respond by focusing on goals and the owner/manager to lead based on the requirements of the business, which is what should be driving the goals to begin with.
For business owners who do not have sales people and are wearing the sales hat in addition to all the other hats, setting short term goals is even more imperative. Similar to other business owners, their strength and passion is in the product or service they have built, it is not in sales. This is not to say that they have not had success selling their offering, but the success usually comes from their passion as opposed to classic sales skills.
Their challenge comes when the business grows, clients need to be serviced, there are more “things” to deal with on a daily basis, it becomes easier and easier to get distracted from selling, especially if “servicing the client” is more engaging and plays to their passion around the product. This scenario requires that much more planning of activities, down to daily tasks and specific daily activities that ensure a steady growth in prospects, closed clients and resulting revenues.
Looking at things through the sales filter, at the very least there should be goals for the number of prospects you need to have at each stage of the sale, number of proposals you want out on a weekly basis and number of closed deals. Under all this, the one area that drives the whole thing is setting goals for the number of initial meetings you need to generate the required number of prospects. This requires goals for weekly, even daily, new prospecting activity and follow through activities that is prospects you have engaged with but did not close last time. Setting up a simple “bring forth” system using either Outlook, or even index cards, will allow you to know who needs to be followed up and when.
There are other goals you can set, but if you start with the ones above, and maintain the discipline, you’ll find a steady flow of new opportunities and customers.
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