The Power of Five-Creating Personal Financial Goals

In the world of sales you don’t hear many people talking about or discussing ‘personal financial goals’. Know why? Sales managers don’t cover it, companies don’t understand the importance of those goals and salespeople themselves would rather not because of that pesky word accountability. Personal financial goals is one of the 5 basic elements of sales success. Without PFG’s how do salespeople know how much they need to sell? What their sales activities need to be? I can make a strong case that PFGs are the key to success in sales.

Another way to look at this is to ask yourself this question: “How much does it cost you to wake up every day?” Ah, well let’s see. Exactly. Did I ever do this when I was a sales cub? No! My financial goals were usually dictated by the ‘sales targets’ the company set for me. If the target was a million dollars in sales and my commission was 6% on all sales then my income was $60,000 for that year. (That was some decent lettuce in the 70’s folks!) Depending on my tax bracket I knew the approximate net and that was what I had to spend on the basics to keep the family from food stamps.

In a naïve way I guess this makes sense. From a logical, long-term, financially secure perspective this makes no sense. Personal financial goals consist of two ingredients. One is the monthly costs to live. Two is what it costs to bring your dreams to life. Dreams do not include a Lamborghini parked in the driveway. OK, they could include it but it would be way down the list of common sense dreams. Translate dreams to: short-term (5 years) financial goals and long-term financial security. This is the easy part.

Translating these to daily sales activities and then into dollars requires intimate knowledge of planning, your market place, the products you sell, competition, prospecting methods, sales metrics, average revenue per sale, and a sales process. Several of these will appear in later posts over the next several weeks.

Between the ages of 22 and 30 very little of this registers on the conscious mind of a salesperson. Some of it begins to trickle in during the 30’s and that is a mistake. Here’s why. Around a salesperson’s mid thirties is when many salespeople begin to make some serious money. (I don’t see a distinction on gender here. I could probably make a case that women get there faster than men.) That will continue into the 40’s until around age 45. Call it a ten-year window of high earning potential. Does it end after that? No, but other things occur concurrently. Child raising, schools, sports, short-term goals (requiring money) and thoughts about funding college or part of it. Pesky thoughts of mortality may even enter into the mental mix. What people do with their money in this time frame is extremely important. Might as well say critical!

Creating personal financial goals therefore becomes a path to success both in the short-term as well as the long-term. This is not just a ten minute conversation with yourself in the shower. “Let’s see, for 2014 I need to earn around $90K give or take.” That WILL NOT CUT IT! Do yourself a favor and spend a day thinking about this topic. Start to wrap some numbers around your sales activities and goals. When you’re rounding age 60 entering the final glide you will be happy you spent the time pondering.

FEAR

I’ve had fear and it is not fun. A lot of people will tell you that fear can be a learning experience, one that will sear itself into your brain and be easy to recall years down the road. Can’t argue that. Learning about fear and what causes it changes people, it changes the way they deal with life and I suppose that can be both negative and positive.

I don’t think fear is such a bad thing but that might be because I’m 67 and there have been times when my sphincter was so tight with fear you couldn’t have wedged a toothpick in there. I survived. Maybe God has some plans for me down the road that I’m not privy to and that’s why I’m still here. I’ve been fearful enough times in my life to know that there are ways to deal with it. And let’s face it they don’t always work. If you’re sitting in a movie theater and some nut bag 2 rows in front of you opens up with a gun you may not have time to execute a way to deal with it.

Fear is nature’s way of telling you that you were not prepared! I’ve talked with clients who have a mortal fear of calling someone on the phone to schedule a sales meeting. There is a pretty simple reason why they feel the way they do. They have no earthly idea of how to sound professional when asking for 10 minutes of someone’s time who never heard of them. About how I felt prior to asking out a girl for the first time. Of course I stuttered my through that one but did manage to close the deal.

Ya just can’t wing things that cause fear. It does not work and I should know because I spent most of my life “winging it”. A good solid plan helps deal with and avoid much of the emotion of fear. Don’t we already know those things that emotionally paralyze us? So think about them and come up with options on what you’re going to do when the paralyzing situation surfaces. Think of several ways to deal with the situation and role-play them in your head or with someone else. The more you work through the language or the actions the more comfortable you will become in the sphincter closing moment.

Then there is the second thing you’ll want to think about. Let’s assume you’re not in the movie theater! How bad will it be if you screw something up royally? Or if your worst nightmare materializes? What is the worst thing that can happen if you should experience a fearful event? Anger? Embarrassment? A royal chewing out? Chances are pretty good that you will live to review the moment. And that is really the secret of fear. Reviewing the moment. How did the event happen and what can I do to deal with a similar event down the road because the event or one like it will happen again.

Passion

Angela Ahrendts, the CEO at Burberry, created the following thought.  The message of the quote got to me, so much so that I just kept on reading it over and over. ‘Passionate, positive human energy can provide a counterbalance to the disruptive negative forces of an age of unprecedented change. Through it comes confidence, inspiration and the power to transform things for the better.’

There is so much power in this statement that you wonder where most of the power dwells. Confidence? Inspiration? Transformation? Your head starts to spin when you think of what is the most important component. Let’s face it, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all component that is the base upon which the rest of the statement sits. The beauty of Ahrendt’s comment is that every person can pick out the important factor that means the most to them.

Mine? Passion! I’ve been spending a significant amount of time thinking about how I want to spend the next 5 years of my life and how much money I want to generate within that time. The process seemed almost painful. Ever passed a stone? That painful! Then I read this quote and whacked my forehead with the heel of my hand. Duh! What’s my passion? Easy. Developing people.

How many people are buried in jobs that don’t challenge them, don’t pay crap, and leave them exhausted every night? I’d wager to say that over 60% of today’s workers. How many of that number know what their passion is? I’d say over half. If my math is correct we’re looking at 30% as the number of people sucking in air who know what their passion is.

Does everyone find their passion at the same time? No. A good friend of mine became passionate about “quality” in the workplace in his middle years. Now he practically sleeps with the Malcolm Baldridge award. A one-time client of mine found real estate sales and she routinely brings in over $300K annually. Don’t get her into a discussion on the topic unless you want to spend the day.

What is your passion and how can you bring it front and center in your life? Are you too fearful to even give it life? Have you really thought through what it will take to breathe life into the passion? Do you want to be on your death-bed, look back on your life and regret that you did not give your passion free rein? Don’t let it happen.

Drawing Assumptions Can Kill Ya!

How many times in the last 3 months did you think or begin a sentence with “well I assumed that…”. You know you have you used this phrase or one like it quite a few times. Like a lot of the drivel that comes out of our mouths assumptions can lead to a complete breakdown of communication. Assumptions can lead to profiling, stereotyping, hatred, and even death. Ask the parents of Trayvon Martin whether or not that’s true.

I think it’s about time that we wake up to the realities of 2013. Our country and our lives are undergoing sweeping changes that go far beyond the irrational hatred Jihadists have for America. We have a black man who is president and within the next 3 elections will probably have a woman elected as president. I’m pretty sure that will drive a lot of the remaining chauvinistic, old white guys stark raving mad. To whom I would say-your day has come and gone.

Caucasians will soon be in the minority. More and more gay couples will be raising children. The stream of immigrants will continue because America remains a land of opportunity. The color and gender of our politicians will continue to change hopefully bringing across the aisle common sense back to DC. This is reality without putting any spin on the facts. This is not the 1950’s when every day was pretty much like the previous one and identical to the one that followed. There is a generation of people who say that they would like those days back. That decade represented certainty, consistency, safety, and freedom from most activities that caused people to question who they were and what they believed in.

Let’s not wander too far from the gist of this post-assumptions can do you in. Assumptions are dangerous because they close off options, they narrow how we perceive life and people, they limit beliefs and personal growth. Let’s face it, George Zimmerman would have been better off staying home instead of prowling the neighborhood looking for trouble that wasn’t there. Or if he saw Trayvon he could have said, “hey man I love skittles. Can I have one?” A black guy in a hoodie does not represent a sure thing for trouble. Hey a white guy in a hoodie could mean trouble. Who the hell knows. Best not assume.

About the only thing you can assume is that change will occur. After the massacre in Colorado can you walk into a movie theater and not look around at people wondering if any of them are planning any mayhem? Shouldn’t we all be more alert to the fact that there are nutbags walking around who are mentally wrong? They are out there but that does not mean the person with over the top tats is one of them. I’m not a huge fan of environments that change often and harshly any better than the next person but change is a reality. For the sake of sanity and living a long life here’s a few suggestions.  Don’t assume; treat all people the way you want to be treated; prepare to react to any situation you are in because it could change immediately; enjoy the infusion of diversity; listen hard to other opinions.

The End!

Pick up any shrink or self-help book and my guess is that before page 50 the author will tell you to “stay in the present”. I could not agree more. However! I’ll go back to my father for an example of someone who never lived in the past, present or future. To tell you the truth I’m not sure what he thought about, what he planned for, how he enjoyed life. Clearly, he never thought of the end. Even after he retired he still got dressed for work everyday. What the hell did my mother think when he showed up at the breakfast table in a white shirt, tie and suit coat! (Probably Show Me The Money)

I remember looking into my dad’s eyes as he was dying. I remember distinctly wondering what he was thinking about. His eyes seemed to carry the message I’m glad it’s over big guy, I’m tired. Or maybe he was wondering how he was going to fill the car up since he was flat broke.

OK, enough preamble. Regardless of your present age you need to carve time out of your life and begin to think about the end of your life or more accurately what will your financial, emotional, and mental outlook be when you are close to the expiration date on living. Downer subject, huh? I don’t think so. There are no life do-overs so why not look back as life begins the last act and have the smile on your face that indicates “I did good”!

I don’t mean to turn this into bullet point mania but these thoughts are worth pondering:

  1. What do you really like to do? What turns your crank, so to speak?
  2. Do you do enough of that on a daily basis?
  3. How do you like to have fun? Will you always have time to do that down the road?
  4. How much money do you need to save now so you can enjoy life down the road.
  5. Are you a big company person, small company person, own your own company person?
  6. How do your strengths and weaknesses help and/or hinder you?
  7. What will your last thought(s) be right before you know that your time is up? (Might want to put this one first.)
  8. Are there specific objectives you want to achieve in your life?
  9. How do you want to impact your kids?
  10. Is there some action, document, thought you want to leave with your family?
  11. Who are you?

Consider this an exercise about successful living on your way to your expiration date. And since none of us know when that will be shouldn’t you be thinking about all these things N-O-W?

Update On My Hero

If you’ve followed my meandering thoughts on a regular basis or, assuming you are new, traveled back in time to June 2009 you’ll know that our daughter gave birth to a one pound thirteen ounce boy. On top of being at the bottom of his weight class Jackson also had a level 4 brain bleed. Trust me, neither of these things present an optimistic chance for much of a life. The doctors offered to disconnect Jackson if his parents wanted that outcome. The answer was a resounding NO!

That’s when Jackson took over. Whether or not you believe in miracles Jackson and the rest of us did. I won’t go through all the nitty gritty from those pressure-packed, prayer-filled times. Jackson just turned 4 on Sunday. For the first time ever he said Mommy and Go. (Way to give a gift to the family little dude!) He refers to his maternal grandmother as Nene (No not the Hawaiian goose) and me as Bapa. Give him a ball or anything else he can throw and look out. He likes to torture his 18 month brother with loud piercing screams that send Logan into tears of fear.

Because of his weakened right side Jackson scoots where he wants to go. He wears a lot of pants out but on the bright side he doesn’t wear out any shoes. He’s got a temper, a sense of humor, a good appetite, an immense love for his family. Kids at his school are drawn to him like a bee to honey. Jackson has a smile that makes people happy. Can he be naughty? Yep, but he’s four after all and doesn’t that go with the territory?

I am absolutely sure that someday Jackson will walk and speak sentences. I know that. I have never seen a more determined little person in my life. He absolutely understands what we are saying to him and around him. Somewhere in the brain that is firing on all cylinders he is figuring out how to do things. The beautiful part of Jackson is that he has no time limit on those efforts. The rest of us would be driving ourselves loony tunes trying to achieve the next plateau and getting pissed because we were not moving fast enough. I think that Jackson understands progress and time better than we do.

Why is Jackson my hero? He loves without conditions. His determination knows no limits. He gives more joy that all the toys in all the Christmases since the beginning of time. He is an angel in disguise. Four years ago he said “eff you” to the doctors. He taught me about God and the true meaning of miracles. I and the rest of his posse love this little person and we always will. What a kid!

Common Sense Rules about Sales, Salespeople, Sales Managers and Life-Rule # 1

A friend of mine commented that ‘getting old is about as much fun as putting your mouth over the exhaust of a bus’! I think he was having a bad day or maybe a bad year. Getting older or seeing the bright light at the end of the tunnel will never be fun at least not fun in my lexicon but it can be interesting, filled with opportunities, and a learning experience. My father failed at aging. The man was 80 and he continued to put on a white shirt, a tie, and a suit coat every day. Mind you, he was not working! I think he did it because he did not know what else to do.

Since I flunked retirement in 2010 it dawned on me that I needed to be productive during my remaining X number of years. One of the things I always wanted to do was share a list of common sense rules covering sales, salespeople, sales managers, family, and life. I very definitely do not want these CSR’s to be heavy and humorless. Good Lord, there’s enough of that crap emanating from D.C. and the media. I don’t need to add more negativity. So here goes. There’s about 100 of them so, well, enjoy ’em.

If you can’t accept “NO” then get out of sales. The answer no starts early in life. No touching the stove, cookie jar, drugs, cigarettes (I wasn’t listening that day). I mean really, aren’t we programmed from an early age to “not do” certain things? Don’t bother me, I’m busy. Don’t hang around with….he’s not a nice boy.

Wilbur and Orville Wright really didn’t pay any attention to people who laughed at them. The candle manufacturer’s were having a good belly laugh when Edison talked about electric lights. Successful people do not take the word ‘No” seriously! There is something in their gene pool that dreams louder than the spoken “no”.

So why do salespeople have problems with the word No? One, they take it personally. Two, they have been programmed since diapers that the word “No” was bad, bad, bad! They don’t prepare an initial message that may yield a yes; instead they go into many sales calls on a wing and a prayer. Not enough people reinforced the concept that a no today did not mean a no for all time. And last. With the volume of potential prospects that most salespeople have what difference do nos make in the scheme of things?

If the word No truly makes you sweat through your freshly starched shirt then don’t go into sales! It’s not worth it and you won’t make enough moolah to keep the bank from foreclosing. Do you really want to wake up everyday to fear that someone will say no to you? There is no shame in admitting that a career in sales isn’t the right career path for you.