Setting goals is an important part in every aspect of one’s life. They provide us with, among other things, direction and motivation. People generally talk about two types of goals, short-term goals and long-term goals. In addition we will explore mid-range goals, which is an under used practice in terms of their importance. All three types of goals are important in the field of sales and we will discuss why they are, and how they interact with one another.
Short-term goals provide an avenue to reach your mid-range goals, which in turn, help you reach your long-term goals. Short-term goals should, ideally, be reviewed on a monthly basis. Daily or weekly goals do not always provide an accurate picture of how a salesman is doing, they are merely targets to hit on the way to a long-term goal. All goals should be set in a way that a statistical measurement could be attached to them. This is the only way you can accurately track your progress towards your goals. Set your short-term goals in a way that will help you obtain your long-term goals.
An often-overlooked aspect of setting goals is the idea of having multiple goals, short-term goals and mid-range goals that are all set up in a way to help us reach our long-term goals. I believe that goals are most effective when they are used as building blocks or steps. Any job in any profession can seem overwhelming if it is not broken down into obtainable steps. Let’s say a car salesman has a quota of twenty cars to sell per month. Now that may seem impossible if you just focus on the number twenty. However if you break that down into five cars a week for four weeks, then the idea of selling twenty cars is not as daunting. After a while you may be reaching your five cars a week with greater ease; at which point, you would want to increase your short-term goals and review them on a monthly basis. Maybe six cars a week and twenty-four a month is a more challenging goal for you now. It is important that we are constantly assessing and reassessing our goals to make sure we are always striving to reach the next level of success.
Why does the idea of setting mid-range goals or using them as a part of the goal setting process seem to be overlooked by so many people? The most common answer is probably that people just have not been exposed to the idea of mid-range goals. I know when I was growing up and going to school, the only goals that I ever heard people talk about were short-term and long-term. Mid-range goals are vital to the process of goal setting. Without mid-range goals, it becomes a lot tougher to obtain the long-term goals.
When a first year sales associate begins his career at Jewelers-R-Us, his long-term goal might be to become the manager of his own store. That, of course, is a noble goal, but a tad overwhelming for someone who only now is just starting to get his feet wet. However, if we break it down into a series of short-term and mid-range goals, then we have a plan of attack.
Let’s see if we can break down his long-term goal into a series of short-term and mid-range goals that will make his long-term goal more obtainable. If the average sales for a salesman at Jewelers-R-Us is $25,000 per month, then the short-term goal for our rookie salesman should be higher than that. Let’s say his goal is to sell $30,000 per month. Now we have a short-term goal, one that can be measured on a monthly basis.
So, what’s the mid-range goal? That’s easy, the mid-range goal is to be named top salesman of the year. If our salesman reaches his goal of $30,000 per month every month for twelve months, then we can logically conclude that he has a strong shot at being the top seller in his store. So, his first mid-range goal on his way to his long-term goal has been accomplished. Sometimes, though, to obtain long-term goals it will take numerous mid-range goals before we wind up where we want to be.
Our jewelry salesperson is off to a great start in his career, but is still years away from his long-term goal of becoming a store manager. Therefore what is needed is another mid-range goal. This one should be tougher to obtain than the previous one. Last year, the goal was to be the top salesman in his store. Mission accomplished! Now the mid-range goal is to be the top salesman in the district. Other mid-range goals for our salesman could include top salesman in the state, the region and the country.
As he reaches all of his short-term and mid-range goals, some of his other mid-range goals will eventually fall into place. Some of those goals may include being named senior salesman, assistant manager and senior assistant manager. All of these steps are leading up to his long-term goal of being named store manger. To this point we have concentrated on short-term and mid-range goals and how they interact with one another, while only briefly touching on long-term goals. Let’s take some time now to explore long-term goals.
Long-term goals are, or should be, the end result of many short-term and mid-range goals. Generally, long-term goals should be goals that are obtained on a yearly basis or longer. For example, saving money to buy a pair of jeans is not a long-term goal for most people, but saving money for a down payment on a house may very well be a long-term goal for those same people. This is just an example, but I do feel that it clearly illustrates how the process of goal setting works.
Let’s say a young couple, just married, starts their life together and one of their long-term goals is to be in their dream house on their tenth anniversary. How do they obtain that goal? Well, as we have all ready discussed, we must break down that long-term goal into more manageable steps.
The couple’s first short-term goal is most likely to find an apartment to live in for a couple of years. It is during this time that they begin to put away some money every month that will help them achieve their first mid-range goal. That first mid-range goal might be to buy a condo after two years of marriage. By putting away some money every month for the two years while they lived in their apartment, they reached their first mid-range goal of being able to buy a condo.
Now the young couple has started to build equity and value that will make it easier to achieve their next mid-range goal, buying a starter home. The couple has a plan to live in the condo for three years, and once again put aside a set amount of money for the down payment on the starter house. As you can see the second mid-range goal is harder to obtain than the first one. It has a longer term (three years as opposed to two) and probably requires the young couple to put aside more money than they did for the down payment on the condo.
Three years go by and sure enough they have done it, the couple of five years now has more than enough money for a down payment on a wonderful starter home. After they are all moved in and settled, the process begins again. The long-term goal of buying their dream house is now within their grasp. As we mentioned earlier, the next mid-range goal is tougher to obtain than the previous one. The term is now five years and the amount of money they need to be saving will certainly be higher. After five years and many home improvements, the ten-year old couple is now ready to reach out and grab a hold of their long-term goal.
The funny thing is that the long-term goal of buying their dream house was just the final step in a staircase that was made up of short-term and mid-range goals. By having a series of goals, both short-term and mid-range, the long-term goal of buying their dream house was made more obtainable. If the only goal had been to buy a dream house on their tenth anniversary, then the couple might still be living in that first apartment. Short-term goals are necessary to achieve mid-range goals and mid-rang goals are necessary to achieve long-term goals.
Now that we have discussed the three types of goals and how they interact with one another, let’s talk about some other requirements for good goal setting.
The process of setting goals involves more than just the setting of the goal and one must have a detailed plan to follow if they are serious about obtaining their goals. When setting your goals, it is also important to ask yourself the following three questions. 1) What do I want to achieve? 2) What is my plan to get there? 3) What am I going to do when the goal is attained?
By constantly asking ourselves these three questions, we make it easier to stay on course to achieve our goals. A simple exercise for anyone who is setting goals is to write down those three questions on a piece of paper and then answer them. Simply answering these questions will put you on the right road to achieving your goals. It is also important to write down your goals on paper and post it somewhere where you will see it on a regular basis. If a goal is not written down on paper, it just becomes another potentially great idea that never happened.
The first thing you see when you go into any office of a retail store is a chart of some type with goals listed. Usually the goals are broken down into weekly, monthly and yearly goals – sound familiar? Of course it does. The store management is setting short-term, mid-range and long term goals for the store. A good salesman will take their cue from the goals of the store and then set their personal goals accordingly. When we write our goals down, we are also letting family, friends and co-workers know what they are. When others know what you are trying to accomplish, it can add that much more motivation. In short, goals that are written down become a commitment.
Any and all goals that you set must be realistic and attainable. Your goals should challenge you and make you stretch beyond your comfort level, but there is a fine line between a challenging goal and an unrealistic expectation. If a realtor’s goal is to sell five houses a month but she has never sold more than two, then the possibility of failing to reach that goal increases. The short-term goal should probably be to sell three houses in a month. That, of course, would be followed by a mid-range goal of continuing to sell three houses a month for six months. If your long-term or yearly goal is to sell twenty-five to thirty houses a year, then you are right on track.
That brings us to an important point. Don’t be afraid to set your goals up backwards. We, generally, talk about setting goals in the order of short-term to mid-range to long-term. However if you really think about it, most of the time it will be easier to set your goals in the opposite way. Take the realtor that we have just discussed. If she were given her long-term goal of selling thirty houses in a year, then it would be up to her to go backwards and develop her plan to reach that goal. Whether you set your goals forwards or backwards you will have a plan.
As I mentioned earlier, goals also must be set up in a way that they can be measured. If you break down the short-term goal into the four weeks in a month, then after two weeks you should be at 50% of your monthly goal. After three months, you should be at 25% of your yearly goal. Using statistics can also allow you to predict the future based on the past. If, for instance, the past three April’s have been a slow month for sales, then you can plan accordingly. That same information could also cause you to ask why sales have been slow in April and maybe come up with some ideas that might increase sales. Statistics can provide some valuable information needed to set your goals for each week, month and year.
A lot of people over the years have had great ideas, but how many of them ever make it from the brain to the sales floor. Having goals and a plan to reach those goals is an important step in reaching your potential as a sales professional. Good luck and remember, SET GOALS – INCREASE SALES!
Author, trainer, consultant, and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training. Mr. Huisken has authored several books and training manuals on sales and produces a Weekly Sales Training Meeting video series along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers. In addition, he publishes a free weekly newsletter called “Sales Insight.” For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703, firstname.lastname@example.org visit his website at www.iastraining.com.