Goal-Setting Tactics: You’ve Gotta Define Success Before You Can Design It

by Jack Daly

Identify “where you are” – the baseline. You can’t begin moving in the right direction until you knows where you are at the present. An effective analogy is to imagine wanting to travel coast to coast. If you didn’t know which coast you were starting from, the journey could be a long and wet one as you started out with just a destination in mind. As well, knowing where you are helps you determine what will be necessary for you to get to the destination.

Identify “where you want to be” – your end state goal. Putting this in writing is a must; otherwise, it’s a dream, not a goal. Dreams don’t often come true, but goals in writing do. We call this “backward thinking” – determining the end zone and charting back to the present. It’s how you organize your view of the future that determines what the future is.

I’ve heard a number of folks employ the acronym SMART effectively.

  • The “S” is for Specific. The key is to break down each of our goals into bite-sized chunks that will lead to getting the goal accomplished. One of my goals is to run a marathon (yea, 26.2 miles) in each of the 50 states. I have further broken this down to four marathons per year, and then I went on to identify the specific four marathon events I would run this year. Specificity!
  • Next is “M”easureable. Inspect what you expect, with a minimum of a monthly review of results compared to plan. Some of the key candidates here for a sales professional include phone calls (inbound/outbound), personal visits, presentations, proposals, orders taken, etc.
  • “A”ttainable is next on the list. Challenging, yes, but reachable – otherwise we risk the goals being demotivating. This is what I call the “reality test.” If you are the 10th-ranked salesperson in the company, it’s probably not an attainable goal to be #1, at least not in a one-year time frame!
  • “R” is for Realistic, and often this comes down to time frames. Time blocking and scheduling are the keys to effective implementation. Scheduling your activities is essential to goal attainment.
  • “T” is for Trackable, which underscores the necessity for the activities necessary to accomplishing the goal to be something which can be tracked and reported. For many years, I have effectively used the simple calendar, in which I record daily activities related to each of my goal action items. I then summarize monthly and compare month-to-month results, as well as year-to-year performance on applicable items.

Too many in business think of goals in terms of only business. Broaden your thinking to personal/life quality goals. I once heard Dennis Waitley put this so well, saying, “Most people spend more time planning Christmas and holidays than they do planning their life.” Make your goals multi-dimensional.

Accountability. This is where you turn the heat up on yourself. Share your goals with people you respect and care about, and establish a system to review your performance with them to garner feedback. This review process should be, at minimum, quarterly. I make it a regular practice of giving my goals to my two adult children, my wife and my two business partners for each to review my progress quarterly. Talk about pressure!

Once the goals are in writing and a system in place to help get the results, identify a few goals that are 1) non-negotiable 2) most difficult and 3) most important. This will further emphasize your focus, and focus precedes success.

Jack Daly is a leader in the area of sales and sales management training. To find more, visit www.jackdaly.net. Daly also is the featured keynote speaker at the 2014 MAPP Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference in Indianapolis. Register today at www.mappinc.com/conference.

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