Tis the season of resolutions and unkept commitments, and sadly the only thing we truly improve is our ability to rationalize failures as we abandon our best laid plans. Let’s be clear the intentions are good and sincere, but what is lacking is execution, and this can be traced back to two key factors. First is the goals are often unattainable to begin with; second even when they are, there is often a lack of tactical plan, a plan that allows for execution that delivers results, both in terms of the end goal, and steps along the way.
While I am not here to knock Big Hairy Audacious Goals, a staple of start of year planning and sales kick offs, they are mostly strategic and anthemic in nature. They rarely make for good tactical plans, they rally the troops, make for lingering sound bites local managers can echo as the year unfolds, but on their own they have little practical value. At one point you have to translate Strategy to action, tactical steps that transform audacious to real, hairy or not. (Ever notice how the hair on your goals changes over time).
So keep the big and hairy for the banner, but support it with an action plan. The best way to do that is to walk backwards from those goals, and lay out a road map that will get you there. Those of us who predate the internet, remember going to AAA and getting TripTiks, allowing us to the trip in great detail; distance between stops, potential lodging, food and fuel, they informed you of major construction project and other potential obstacles and j\helped you plan contingencies.
It is best to do the same for your journey from kick-off to your Big Hairy Audacious Goals, and then do the same for each sale/account you are going to encounter and win along the way. Much like the TripTik, it should include metrics, logical milestones along the way, resources you will need to fuel the sale, average length of cycle and potential number of meeting it may take to complete each journey or sale.
The last two are key, and often over looked. Most sales people are not aware of the average length of their sales cycle, when asked most will say depends. Even the ones that have an answer, are usually going with the corporate myth “our sales cycle is 90 days”, it supports the vision and the Hairy Goals. But when we look at the data provided by their CRM, the number is usually off.
They also don’t know how many meeting a typical sale should take, and as a result of that they cannot plan for a desired outcome from each encounter. No Next Step, no Secondary Next Step, no plan C. It’s a lot like a quarterback trying to march down-field without set plays or knowing how they will run those plays. Everyone knows we want to get the ball in the end zone, a clear Hairy Goal, but there are reasons why some can do it consistently and predictably, while others flounder most of the time.
So forget resolutions, big or small, and focus on execution, it never gets old, and in sales success is about execution – everything else is just talk!