Today’s post is by Leanne Hoagland-Smith, an author, clarity strategist, keynote speaker, and sales coach who turns tomorrow’s goals into today’s results for her clients. She can be reached at 219/508.2859 (MST), firstname.lastname@example.org, or on LinkedIn.
In the 20 years I have been working with salespeople, my research indicates well over 85 percent know of SMART goals, originally defined by Zig Ziglar about 50 years ago. My guess, based on listening to his presentations and reading his books, is that Ziglar probably had at least seven important but unstated criteria for SMART sales goals.
#1 – Your goal should be stated in writing.
We all know what happens when we fail to write important actions down – such as the common everyday grocery list. When we fail to take our written list to the grocery store, we end up
- Buying more than we need.
- Spending more than we planned.
- Failing to purchase all items on the forgotten list.
- Wasting more time attempting to remember what was on the list.
- Feeling rather dumb for not remembering the list.
In 2007, 3M conducted some research and discovered 42 percent of the people surveyed are more likely to complete a task they have handwritten. Many of us know the power of the written word when we take notes as salespeople – we are more likely to remember what was said.
#2 – Express your goal in active language.
Think for a moment about your sales goal. Is the first word an action verb? Thinking about and writing down our goals with action verbs subconsciously works with us to achieve the goal. Action verbs remove the sense of the future (such as “I will”) and make the present (as in “close”) more real. For example, here are some action verbs:
#3 – You must own the goal.
How many sales goals are set by sales managers and not the individual salesperson? When salespeople own the goals instead of just hear the goals, they have a greater internal desire to achieve the goal.
If you disagree, think back to being a child and being told by your parents what to do. Do you remember some internal resistance to those parental commands? Since human beings are creatures of conditioning, possibly your sales manager subconsciously has replaced one of your parents and now you are internally resisting?
Presumption #4 – You must cultivate the right mindset to drive you to achieve the goal.
Zig Ziglar was a highly internally motivated person. He had the mindset to keep going. Just listen to any of his presentations and you can see he understood the necessity to master his craft, be autonomous, and relate to others.
I have given self- assessments to hundreds of individuals, including salespeople, and my own findings confirm that, when it comes to motivation and mindset, salespeople who are driven by financial rewards have the necessary mindset potential to achieve sales goals – more so than those who are not driven by financial rewards. That said, salespeople who place financial rewards in the lower 50 percent of their internal drivers can still be successful, provided they have clarity around these drivers.
#5 – Your goal must be very specific.
My sense is Ziglar was very specific in his sales goals. Possibly he did not write all the specifics because they were intrinsic to him. However, what I have learned is the more specific the goal, the greater likelihood of success. Also, what I know to be true after working with salespeople and business professionals is the majority of sales goals lack specificity.
#6 – Your goal must be aligned.
Sales goals must be aligned to the salesperson’s purpose, passion, and overall sales plan. Misalignment creates misguided decisions and misdirected actions.
In working with salespeople, I have come to realize that, when individuals connect their purpose (why are you here?) and their passion (what moves you?) to their overall sales plan there is far greater likelihood of success. My sense is one of the undiscovered reasons for sales burnout is a lack of this alignment.
#7 – Your goal must be clear.
Ziglar had clarity. He knew where he was going and how he was going to get there. What I have now discovered is the majority of people, including salespeople, do not have such clarity.
This lack of clarity from misalignment to weak specificity prevents salespeople from achieving their sales goals. Additionally, if people from sales managers to executive leadership lack clarity, this clarity gap only makes it more difficult for salespeople to achieve their sales goals.
Presumptions Create Problems
Most of us have experienced the problems with presumptions. We fail to see the entire picture or we presume facts that are not evident. This is one good reason to update SMART goals to what I call “WAY SM²ART” goals and eliminate these presumptions.
W = Written
A = Actionable
Y = Yours
S = Specific (Very)
M = Measure times Mindset
A = Aligned to Purpose, Passion, and Plans
R = Realistic Stretch
T = Target Date, Time Driven
WAY SM²ART Comparisons to Traditional SMART Goals
Change is not usually the reason goals fail. The reason can be traced to adapting to change. Adaptation is “How do I do what needs to be done given what I now know?” Here are two comparison examples of how to write a WAY SM²ART goal so you can be more successful in sales:
WAY SM²ART Goal = In the next 30 days, close 10 percent more sales from my sales funnel than in the past 30 days by not giving up – by staying true to my purpose of being the trusted authority for my clients. (Traditional SMART Goal = I will close 10 percent more sales in the next 30 days.)
WAY SM²ART Goal = In the next seven days, identify 20 new qualified sales leads to keep my sales funnel full, thereby demonstrating my passion as a committed salesperson with an unstoppable mindset. (Traditional SMART Goal = I will find 20 sales leads in the next 30 days.)
When you compare these two examples, which one gives you greater clarity and possibly even inspires you more to be a goal-driven and goal-achievable salesperson?
Yes, change is good and you can now change with this update to the traditional SMART goals. Now that you know how to write a WAY SM²ART goal, just do it. Take action to be one of the few to achieve your sales goals instead of one of the many who continue to fall short.