Why Is Goal Setting So Important In Sales?

This week’s guest blog is from Dave Stein, a former sales consultant and trainer who is the CEO of ES Research Group, Inc., and author of “How Winners Sell.”

Goal setting isn’t a standalone activity, but rather a component of a larger planning process. Whether it’s written down or not, that process normally has four parts: 1) an assessment, 2) the determination of a goal, 3) devising a strategy to achieve the goal, and 4) coming up with individual steps or tactics required to execute the strategy.

Let’s say I’m 80 pounds overweight (which I was many years ago). My assessment would be short and sweet: I need to lose weight because at 240 pounds, I am headed toward a heart attack, diabetes or both and can hardly get out of my car. Losing 10 pounds wouldn’t accomplish much and losing 150 would leave me, at six feet tall, skinny as a rail.

You can see that the assessment points me toward a goal. Lose 80 pounds.

Many of us learned about S.M.A.R.T. goals or objectives. That concept works well.

My strategy to achieve the weight loss back then was through diet and exercise. So far as tactics were concerned, I completely over-reacted—something I tended to do back then. I immediately went on a macrobiotic diet (which I significantly modified after 6 months or so). In addition, I started walking, then jogging at the high school track. I could have employed other tactics to support my strategies, like going on The Atkins Diet and swimming instead of running.

I understand that people who accomplish great things in either their business or personal lives don’t always think in terms of this four-part plan. But they follow one nevertheless. You don’t just wind up climbing Mt. Everest, saving the lives of thousands of African children, losing 10 pounds, or learning how to play the piano without a goal and the plan to achieve it, formal or otherwise.

With respect to salespeople, consistent and long-term effectiveness requires a formal planning process (including that important second step: goal-setting). With many opportunities in a rep’s pipeline, all with different characteristics, timeframes, buyers, decision processes, competitors, and buying criteria, keeping them all advancing toward a sale requires executing a number of complex and parallel plans.

I’m sure you’re thinking about a super salesperson you know who doesn’t formally plan their sales campaigns. I won’t argue with you. But I will say they are the exception.

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