Setting Realistic and Effective Goals

This is an edited extract from Selling for Dummies, the UK edition

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Business Goal setting targets

What are your true business goals?

When you first considered a career in sales, you probably had some vague notions of success in mind. For many the initial mental picture is one of being a rep with a pretty cushioned lifestyle, swanning around in a suit, driving a fancy car, and not really working just talking to people all day! If only that image were the whole truth. You have broad expectations and ideas; our job is to refine them and make them clear and achievable.

You must make your goal or target real. You need to turn vague notions into specific, vivid pictures to keep you on track during difficult patches when you feel like throwing it all in.

When you’re setting goals, give yourself the time and privacy you need in order to think about what would make you happy and motivate you to keep going when it gets a little tough. Your goals need to be big enough and inspirational enough to carry you forward. They should even be fun to think of, so don’t make your goal-setting session so difficult that you end up setting no goals at all, fearing that the goals you set will be wrong.

So what if they are? Are the goals police going to come to your front door and ask to do an audit of them?

Probably not. Goals are maps or destination choices and sometimes both destinations and roads you take to get there change. Maps include unfinished roads or roads that you need to detour around while improvement is underway. The road map you create for yourself is no different.

When you’re in the beginning stages of goal setting, you need to remember two things:

  • The goal must aim for more than you’ve already achieved but be believable.

Don’t set a goal that you don’t think you can reach. The trick to setting goals is to make them high enough to push you to higher levels of performance, yet reasonable enough that you can envision reaching them. If you set goals you don’t think you can reach, you probably won’t pay the price to reach them when the going gets tough.

  • Your goals must be vivid and ‘real’ to your mind and actually be something that you personally really desire.

It is tempting to have a goal that others prescribe for example being wealthy, but in truth you might be less motivated by money than family closeness and so your goals must be your picture

You are in more control of yourself than you are of exterior circumstances, so losing out on a desired goal when it was beyond your control from the start can be negative and counter-productive.

By setting your own personal goals you will be more motivated than perhaps previous stages in life when goals were set but not really pushed for (New Years Resolutions?). Indeed big picture goals break down into daily goals too and these might even be productivity based concentrating on achieving your passion step by step.

Remember, productivity precedes production, so if you set production goals you’re more likely to hit other goals. Actively pursue your productivity goals and increased production will result. For example, you are productive if you make 20 phone calls today. Even if you only spoke with three people, you’ve been productive. You are productive if you mailed information and thank-you notes to those three people, even if you didn’t generate a sale from those contacts. Productivity is seed planting – plant enough seeds in the right ground and surely one day you’ll reap a bumper harvest.
Keeping these two rules of goal setting in mind will help you create and stay committed to what is important in your life.


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