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Sales Goals - 5 Tips to Navigate The Land Of Oz

You’re a salesperson and it is December, which means that you currently face one of three realities:
1. You have met your sales goal for the year. 
2. You have not met your sales goal for the year, and unless pigs learn how to fly in the next couple of weeks, you know that there is no way you will meet your sales goal.
3. You have not met your sales goal for the year, but there is a chance, that if you call every prospect in your pipeline for the next two weeks straight and click your ruby red heels together three times, it just might happen. You really are that close to Kansas!

Either way, there may as well be a giant elephant in your office right now with the word GOALS written across its forehead, because that’s what everyone is focused on—or, maybe it’s not.

You see, depending on which of the three realities you face right now, your focus may—or may not—be on the right thing. For example, if you have met your sales goal for the year, you may be what the French call laissez-faire. You already know you’re getting your bonus, your trip to Cancún (or whatever reward or incentive that you may receive as a result of meeting your goal), so you have your feet up on your desk and your hands behind your head without a care in the world. If you have not met your goal for the year and know that you won’t, you may have already given up on this year and completely catapulted all of your focus and energy into January (there’s no way you’re going to Cancún, so why bother with December, right?). If you’re staying up 24/7 in a last-minute (perhaps desperate) attempt to meet your goal this year, you may not be planning for next year at all. As a salesperson, none of this behavior is in your best interest this December.

Focus on what you can do right now
If you’re a salesperson, you know that what you do today has a direct impact on what happens to you (and the company) in the future based on your sales cycle. So, Mr. Laissez-Faire, what is your first quarter of next year going to look like if you’re busy spending your December admiring your Cancún bathing suit in the mirror? It’s going to be cold January, my friend. If you’ve given up making calls in December and focusing all your energy planning for January, your first quarter will no doubt look well-planned, but you’re missing out on the relationships you could be building (and the deals you could be closing) right now. You’ve convinced your boss that you actually can sell—you’re just selling yourself short. If you’re in the Land of Oz and making things happen left and right this December, that’s great. You might make it to Cancún after all, but it’s not going to matter if you make goal or not, because you’re probably not even thinking about January, which again, can be a very cold month.
So, focus on what you can do (and what you should be doing) right now, which is finishing December strong. You’re either going to meet your goal or you’re not, but that shouldn’t change your focus. Continue to make your calls, send your emails, and build your relationships. Who knows, it might translate into a win this December, next January, or even next June, but at least you’re focused on what’s important right now—selling!

5 tips for staying on track—this December and always
Remember, you get results by focusing on what you can do, not on the things that you can’t. Here are five things you can do—today and always—to achieve more with your sales pipeline. 

1. Strive for personal bests, not necessarily for winning the race. When you’re a salesperson, you want your name to be on the top of the board every month. Am I right? That’s an admirable goal, but that’s also a lot of pressure to put on yourself. Let’s think about it in terms of sports. You enjoy running and have an average pace of 11 minutes per mile. You register for 5k races on a regular basis in your community. The problem is, other residents in your community (who run 5-, 8-, and 10-minute miles) also register for the race. Your goal, then, shouldn’t necessarily be to win the race, because that’s not going to happen. It should be to beat your personal best for a 5k. Take the same approach with your sales goals. You might not meet your annual goal, but you can strive to make this December better than last December.

2. Focus on conversion. As a salesperson, you’re obsessed with numbers (as you should be), but there is a chance you’re focusing on the wrong ones. Perhaps your goals include making a certain number of phone calls or sending a certain number of emails each week, and so long as you maintain that outreach, you feel like you’re doing what you can. You really need to ask yourself, “How many of these phone calls and emails are converting?” How many of those phone calls turn into leads? How many of those emails result in face-to-face meetings? Make a conversion goal. If you want a 50 percent conversion rate, you may need to up the ante when it comes to your outreach. Focus on the numbers that actually turn into action.

3. Hang out with the top dogs. Talk to your fellow colleagues about what is working for them. Find the guy whose name IS on the top of the board. Ask him if you can listen in on some of his phone calls. More importantly, ask him to sit in on your phone calls and solicit his feedback. He may not give away all of his trade secrets, but if you’re in sales, you are most likely on a team. Your team members should be willing to provide you with support and mentor ship. If not, ask your manager or boss for feedback.

4. Create more than just one annual goal. Whether it happens during the last week of December or the first week of January, your boss will inevitably sit you down and help you set clear goals, help you create a plan, talk to you about how to execute that plan, and will eventually evaluate your performance at the end of the year. You already know this. But what if there was something you could focus on every quarter, every month, every week, or even every day? Sometimes, we focus so much on the big picture that we fail to focus on the details. Set a DAILY goal for yourself. Ask yourself every morning, “What am I going to accomplish today?” At the end of the day, evaluate how the day went, and make a new goal for tomorrow. This will ensure you’re staying on top of your goals, staying committed, and pushing yourself every day toward something productive.

5. Create activity goals. This tip allows you to win and achieve a goal every day. It takes the focus off the results and instead places the focus on the activity itself. Let’s say you sell vacuums door-to-door, and your goal is to sell $1,000 worth of vacuums every day. That’s a results-driven goal, and it’s admirable. But what if you took the focus off the results and instead created a goal to talk to at least 20 people every day about your vacuum selection? Results are important, and as stated above, conversion is important, too. But if you want a way to achieve a daily goal, try setting an activity goal, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Keep yourself motivated 
Achieving successful sales goals requires motivation, but it can be difficult to stay motivated in December, especially if you’re currently wishing that pigs could fly or that you had magic, red heels. Others can provide you with inspiration, but motivation comes from within, so be sure to get in touch with your inner Dorothy and practice some self-motivation. Here are some tips for staying motivated, especially if you’re feeling discouraged this December:

• Don’t let a mundane routine kill your spirit. Life often feels like a series of “going through the motions” or “jumping through the hoops.” When you feel bogged down by your everyday routine, you should stop and take a moment to remind yourself why you are doing this. It’s because you are good at sales. You have the passion, drive, and hunger to achieve your goals. So go get ‘em! 
• Take care of yourself. Your physical state affects your emotional state, and ultimately, your performance. Are you eating well? Are you exercising enough and sleeping well? 
• Don’t be so hard on yourself. We are all our own worst critics. It can be very easy to beat yourself up when you don’t achieve your goals, but keep your chin up. Turn your inner cynic into an inner coach. Ask yourself, “How can I do better?” instead of thinking, “I am doing enough to succeed.”
• Reward yourself when you’ve earned it. You exceeded your goal today? You had a better December this year than last year? Give yourself a high-five. Order an extra scoop of ice cream in your ice cream cone. Whatever works.
• Seek an outside source to boost your inner motivation. Ask your manager if you can attend a training, seminar, or conference. Read a motivational book. Listen to some TED Talks. Watch Ellen. Again, whatever works. 
• Create some friendly competition. If you’re a salesperson, you have a competitive streak inside, which means there is nothing more motivating than winning! If you work on a team, take advantage of the energy you can absorb from these colleagues. Talk to your team members about setting up a fun, friendly, inner-office competition. Together Everyone Achieves More, right?
Stay motivated. Remember, the Good Witch of the North told Dorothy, “You had the power all along, my dear.” 

Keep a positive attitude
The year is almost over, and depending on the status of your goals, you’re either extremely excited about that or you’re freaking out. Try to stay positive, and keep working. You will always have the last week of the year to work on goal setting for 2016. For now, focus on creating and maintaining relationships with prospects. Avoid the negative and surround yourself with positive people. Expect that you will succeed. Confidence is everything in this business.
Naturally, you want to be the top sales rep in your company. You want to be the president of your company one day, retire at 50, and own the Milwaukee Bucks. These are all good, long-term goals, but this December, don’t forget about that elephant sitting in the office. And when it comes to setting reasonable, attainable goals for yourself, remember that there is only one way to eat an elephant, and that is one bite at a time, my friend.

Scott Petersen - PointOne Recruiting President/Owner