Several years ago, I worked for an organization that was very goal focused.  At the beginning of each year we would anxiously await the new corporate goals and eagerly focus our efforts on their achievement.  

One year we received four goals, very broad in scope; there were many avenues of potential achievement within each of the goals.  As a team, we worked hard all year long in pursuit of the four goals.  With the arrival of the next New Year we were again anxious to learn of our new goals.  As we sat in silent anticipation, I heard an unexpected declaration:  “We will continue with the same goals as last year until substantial progress has be reached!”  We had made great strides in our performance, but sometimes continuing to make progress on excellent goals is more effective than coming up with new ones.  I feel the same way about writing new sales advice to begin this new sales year.  The article I wrote the first week of January last year is as meaningful now as it was then.  We all need to read it again and apply the principles this year, just as we did last year, and continue... “until substantial progress has been reached!”

With the arrival of the New Year you might ask yourself, “What will be different this year in my sales from last?”  To that question may I appropriately answer with the response, “Nothing!” unless you are willing to make some changes in your life.  One year will pretty much mirror the last unless you alter your activities and performance.  Many salespeople choose a career in sales because it provides an easy income with little preparation, minimal discipline and maximum workplace freedom.  Let me make a few suggestions for some changes that will dramatically improve your sales during this New Year.

Decide What You Want — The majority of all people in this world have no idea what they really want in life.  They get up every morning, they do “stuff” and they go to bed at night.  Their actions are dictated by the demands of the current situation.  They are much like a leaf in the wind.  They go where the wind blows taking no effort to direct their course.  What do you want to achieve this year in sales?  What amount of money do you want to earn?  What things do you want to buy?  Where do you want to vacation?  Don’t just settle for whatever happens, you decide what you want and then do what it takes to achieve it.  You have the right to want something and you have the ability to achieve it.  It may not be easy, but you have the potential to achieve your dreams.  I love this saying.  I wish I knew its origin.  “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon, must inevitably come to pass.”  Commit that saying to memory and live each day to fulfill its meaning.

Become Goal Oriented and Goal Focused — Having decided what you want in your life, set a goal to achieve it.  Goals are specific objectives you want to accomplish.  Goals must be time specific.  Goals must be broken down into detailed steps of action that culminate in the achievement of the goal.  Goals must be something you want and are willing to put forth the required time and effort.  It is through the achievement of goals that individuals become great and experience all of the joy and satisfaction life has to offer.  Salespeople become successful through the regular establishment and achievement of goals.  Goal setting is the only way you can monitor your activities and calculate your success.  Goal setting allows you to keep score while motivating you when times are tough.

Develop A Plan — Success does not come as the result of a series of random events, but as the result of executing the steps of a specifically designed set of actions.  Developing and following a plan of action will keep you focused on doing the right activities at the right time for the right reason in the specified amount of time to achieve the right result.  Sales success is not found in just being busy or in doing a lot of stuff.  Sales success always begins with a plan and concludes with properly executing the plan.  One of my favorite quotes, attributed to Lavelle Edwards, the legendary football coach at BYU says, “If you see a man on top of a mountain, he didn’t just fall there.”  Successful salespeople are successful because they have a plan and by following their plan they find success.  Nothing is quite so motivating as achieving a well thought out plan.

Schedule and Manage Your Time — Nothing in this world has greater value than time.  Time is the mother of all success and ultimately of all life.  Your ability to control your time is your ability to achieve success.  Selling is nothing more than a well-orchestrated performance involving time, activity and money.  If you cannot effectively manage your time you will never achieve sales success.  Several years ago I was working with a dentist trying to improve the profitability of his practice.  He was having difficulty paying his bills and had questioned his decision to become a dentist based on his financial return.  One of the key elements I evaluated was his use of time relating to the number of patients he saw each day.  He was regularly seeing eight patients per day.  There was time to see more but he didn’t want to rush or feel the stress of a larger patient load.  After conducting an in depth evaluation of his practice and looking specifically at time, activity and money, I concluded that by seeing just one more patient each day he could increase his “bottom line income” by three thousand dollars per month.  You can’t create more time, but you can do a much better job in planning, scheduling and managing the time you do have.  I have clients who have increased their income ten times by achieving more with the same amount of time.

Take Action — Nothing happens until you do something.  You must become physically engaged if you want to have sales success.  Sales increases do not happen because you think about it and talk about it.  Increases happen as the result of doing something about it.  What actions should you be taking?  Here are just a few ideas that all successful salespeople implement daily.

  1. Get up early
  2. Be to work on time
  3. Find new prospects
  4. Be in front of decision makers
  5. Prepare “needs based” quotes or proposals
  6. Ask for referrals
  7. Look for additional opportunities with existing customers
  8. Plan and schedule your time
  9. Believe in yourself
  10. Be passionate about selling

Be resolute in incorporating these changes into your daily activities and this year will be the most successful year of your life.