Now is the time to think about what you can do to make your sales goals this year. Yes, I realize the year has just begun, but what better time to create the actions that you need to actually achieve your goals?
The Chinese have the saying, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” Here is what you can do now to reach your sales goals.
Be sure you are measuring success
I work with a sales professional who is a very talented, hard-working executive. He’s put in the time to know his product, and he’s able to communicate his knowledge effectively. His job requires him to educate and inform, and change people’s attitudes.
He needed to measure his performance; however, his product is intangible and difficult to measure, so his report consisted of metrics such as the number of participants that attended the programs he’s delivered as well as geographical locations and number of programs.
This is a strategy that will lead to disappointment. His objective was to educate and change attitudes, so how does showing that people sat through a program do that? It doesn’t. What if the wrong people were attending his program? He would be wasting his time if the attendees arrived with the attitudes he wanted to create and support. What if he had delivered 50 programs to 2000 people, but instead could have delivered 10 programs and reached the same number of people? In that case, he just wasted his time delivering 40 more programs that were not needed; he was less productive.
This year he needs to change his measurement to one that is more congruent with his goals and will better gauge his success.
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Next, this salesman reported his results in terms of geography, since his territory assignment was by state. Just because you are given a large territory doesn’t mean you have to travel to all points within your territory. Why? All accounts are not created equal, no matter where they’re located.
I recognize that some salespeople focus more on the accounts that are geographically closer to them and easier to travel to. That makes sense only if the sales professional was assigned to live in the city based on a strategic analysis of the sales territory before the assignment was made.
A strategic analysis would have identified the largest accounts and those with the greatest potential, followed by an analysis of the travel costs to reach those key accounts in the most cost effective way. A huge geography sets the outer limits of travel; it doesn’t determine where you should travel and require that you go everywhere. You should travel only to key accounts because those will deliver the sales you need to make your goals. You get no sales benefits from wearing out your car or body on an airplane.