Setting Sales Goals and a Foundation for the New Year

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If you're like most of us, you probably find the start of a new year a great time to reflect on sales accomplishments as well as what you would like to achieve next along with a host of New Year's resolutions.

If that's the case, then a review of your sales plan in the new year is essential.

As many of my sales training and business development clients know, I have a real love for studying the success formulas of some the most influential people and their adages and aphorisms. And there's one that is really appropriate today.

In the challenging times of World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill told listeners that "he who fails to plan is planning to fail."

That statement is applicable to so many sales people. All reps want to increase sales, but often fall short simply because they "wing it" and don't have a formally structured plan of any kind.

The magic is not in the plan itself, but rather in the insights that you gain from creating the plan. The process of slowing down for a moment and calculating your actions and next steps is much more effective than just running on "auto pilot".

You give your self the time and opportunity to review essentials such as:

  • Your motivations and realistic time commitment to sales.
  • Your current financial situation, how motivated you are to changing it as well as the specifics of where you eventually want to be.
  • What is the driver behind making more sales and increasing commissions (is it funding your children's college education, increasing your retirement fund or making sure you can properly care for an aging family member).
  • Listing any sales challenges and obstacles that held you back, or any "holes" in your presentation or sales process that need to be filled.
  • And the action steps you need to implement and consistently take to attain all of these goals.

We encourage sales reps and their managers to look at this at the start of the year since it is a clean slate and fresh start from a psychological standpoint. At the start of the year we are looking to make improvements with our "resolutions." Our careers, increasing our client base and helping more people with our products and services helps us gain the resources that fulfill many of our goals.

Here are three tips that will help you structure a motivating sales plan for the new year:

1. Polish Your Plan: Winston Churchill's observation about what is at stake when we fail to plan holds true in all aspects of life. The failure to plan is especially costly when it comes to prospecting, sales and business success. A new calendar year is a perfect time to map out your annual sales goals and sales plan. This needs to be done now; if you wait, opportunity is lost. (i.e. When people wait till March to start the new plan, they have already lost 15% of the year. ) Your plan should take into account your long-term financial goals, your motivations, how you are prioritizing multiple facets of your life, time commitment to building your business, and any special considerations that will affect this plan.

Be honest with yourself: Answer in specific and definable terms: What is it that I am working toward achieving in my life? How will my current finances help or hinder this? What am I willing to do to be more effective? What amount of time will that take and will I commit to that time? Make sure that your goal(s) are WRITTEN and well defined. Note: Unwritten goals are just nice ideas. Take the action needed to pursue your dreams. Life moves fast, and many sales people are often pleasantly surprised just how quickly new levels of sales can be attained with a little extra effort, consistent action and advance planning. By being honest about all that you hope - and need - to achieve, you're a lot more likely to make everything happen.

2. Review Your Prospects: Once you've got your plan take a look at your current and potential prospects. Do you have enough quality prospects? Where can you find more quality prospects? Are you pursuing the right type of prospect to be in alignment with you goals, objectives and motivations? When you know who you want to spend time with and why you want to reach them, it makes the process much more fun and that, in turn, makes succeeding even easier.

3. "Get Real" About Time: We all have only 24 hours in a day. Get clear about all of your commitments, not just work. How much time do each of those take? You need to understand your availability of the time resource. If you recognize you don't have enough time for what you want to achieve, corrective action needs to be taken - either create solutions to free up time, improve efficiency or reassess your goals and priorities for your needs.

The simple action of taking the time to create an annual sales plan, gaining clarity on which prospects are of quality and are worth pursing, and being realistic about where you are going to spend the precious and limited resource of time, will give you a solid foundation for success each year.

Mark Anthony is a sales trainer with over 25 years of experience and clients on 6 continents. Each sales training program is designed to be interactive and to hold sales reps accountable to new actions. Call 888 792 5128 or

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