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.
I was channel flipping Saturday night when I happened on the movie “Rudy”. For those of you who have not seen it here is the quick recap. Rudy was a guy who wound up going to the University of Notre Dame. Why he wanted to go there is a significant part of the plot but does not tie into the meaning behind this post. Rudy was very undersized for football but he was passionate about trying out for the team. He got as far as the practice squad, which is where he spent all but the last game of his senior year.
On the last game of the year every varsity player took a stand-they wanted Rudy to dress for the game. He did and managed to get into the game for 2 plays, the last of which resulted in Rudy tackling the QB for the last play of the game. There are enough twists and turns and sub-plots that the movie is a veritable cornucopia of feel good moments. Regardless of how many times I see Rudy I shed a few tears and I am not ashamed to admit it!
Rudy exemplifies what it takes to be successful in sales or for that matter any profession. At maybe 5’4″ and 150 pounds he was punished during every practice scrimmage but got up for the next play. His relentless pursuit of a dream and his actions in the face of huge odds against him forced coaches and other players to respect him. Rudy should be the poster man for mental toughness!
If people want something bad enough they have to exhibit tremendous amounts of “passion” on their way to achieving that goal. Passion is believing that nothing will get in the way of achieving the goal. No amount of setbacks, (translate this into the word N-O for salespeople) detours, poor execution, poor support, lack of experience, pain, or lack of knowledge should ever get in the way of any salesperson achieving their goal.
I am reminded of how a young person I know detoured into a job and company that didn’t fit his strengths. When my son understood that, he interviewed with the company he worked for prior to the detour. I am not sure who the person was who interviewed him but he commented to this person that, “he would do anything to come back to the company and if that meant washing the floors he would do it.” Now, that is passion! And yes he did get the job.
The Final Thought: “All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion and desire.” Aristotle
By far this is my favorite week in the Spring. You can actually see buds on some trees in Minnesota, the ice is off some of the lakes, and the Masters begins. For you non golfers the Masters is the first of four of golf’s major tournaments. The others being the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA. The Masters is played on one of the most beautiful courses on the planet-Augusta National. In fact, this is a Schaber call, it is the most beautiful! (In the unlikely event that someone could get my son and I on that course I would be their slave for a week! No, I am not kidding!)
In today’s sports page Billy Payne, the Masters’ chairman, said this about Tiger Woods, “He is a man who decides the outcome and then he undertakes a strategy. The rest of us adopt strategies hoping to get to an outcome….
The outcome of course is winning the Masters. This quote has enormous meaning for everyone, especially salespeople. As a salesperson and later as a sales manager I would look at my sales quota, whip out the calculator and figure out how much I would earn in salary and commissions when I made quota. What a self-inhibiting task! But don’t a lot of salespeople look at it the same way? Oh, here’s my quota so let’s multiply X by X and, whoa, I’m going to make X!
Tiger Woods is a student of the history of golf. He knows what score it will take to win the Masters. He knows Augusta National as well as we know the layout of our homes. From the very first hole in the first round Woods knows what score he needs to shoot on every hole, right through the 18th on Sunday. Think about that and then translate that over to sales. Instead of determining what you would make by hitting your sales target, think about what you “want” to earn, not what you’ll earn by just making target. When you have that number then you determine what business you will keep during the next fiscal year. (Figure in 5% for lost business because you will lose some business.) Following that, plot what business you plan to gain from your current customers and from new customers. And always, always remember you are thinking in terms of the “outcome” at the end of the fiscal year. Ultimately, you will be thinking of what the end result will be and then what you need to do to get there.
All of this begs the question-what do you want to get out of or from your life? Forgive the philosophical bent to that question but it is a question that every person must ask of themselves. Think of the end point and then think of what the journey will look like to get to that end point!
With respect to Walt Disney I needed to add the “hers” and “shes”. We have a much better business environment because of the “hers” and “shes”. In Walt’s time women had not made their impact-yet.
The Final Thought: “A person should set his (her) goals as early as he (she) can and devote all his (her) energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he (she) may achieve it. Or he (she)may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he (she) will know he (she) has been alive.” Walt Disney
As a general rule of thumb I intensely disliked the first quarter of any business year. And for good reason. For seven years as a salesperson we had a comp plan that Sir Isaac himself couldn’t have figured out. By the time we figured out the new annual tweak to the program we had to load in at the end of the fiscal year to make any money. You know how that affected January and part of February. Long about October 20th the ugly cycle started again.
Then we had this little start up in the 80’s. We had certain revenue milestones that keyed in stock options and other “perky” little things. Long about mid- June (FY ended in July) we’d sidle up to our best customers and ask them to fill the basement store room (the CFO never knew they existed) with an extra six weeks of product. There went the first quarter of the next fiscal year-again! (I’m not condoning the behavior here but it sure helped pay for the majority of two college educations!)
Since those days are a dim memory let’s be realistic about what March 10th means. Twenty five percent of the fiscal year is close to being toast. Here’s what went through my brain in those bygone days:
- Are we 25% or more of the way to making our sales forecast?
- Are the opportunities collecting mold in the funnel or are they moving?
- Are the salespeople seeing the right prospects?
- Are we growing the business we don’t have in our existing customer accounts?
- Are the salespeople following the sales activity plans they created for the current year?
- Are we chasing bad prospects? (See #2)
- Are we seeing the right people in prospect accounts?
- Based on the manager’s observations are the salespeople using the sales language correctly?
- As the sales manager am I doing the right stuff?
This is one of those times when you begin to see the good managers earn their money and the bad managers sweat. If we were at plan or above I’d gather the salespeople together for a play date in a warm climate. Golf, pool, spa and good food. A small portion of the time we would spend plotting our course for the remainder of the year. If we were below plan we’d meet in Minneapolis in late March. Ideal conditions for that meeting were below zero temps with a blizzard. They weren’t fun.
The Final Thought: “Succes is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistenly applying basic fundamentals.” Jim Rohn
In over twenty years in the medical device business I had 9 managers. Three were very good if not exceptional, three were OK, and three should have been tarred, feathered and ridden out of town! Thinking back on all of them I realize that I did not have any expectations of them. Doesn’t that sound bizarre? Actually, I did have expectations for the lowest three nimrods-I wanted them to stay away from me.
Is it different today? I’m not really sure it is. I’ve written posts galore about the responsibilities that sales managers have toward their salespeople. You could just go to one of those posts and flip the nouns around and get a pretty good take on what the salesperson should expect but, hey, what fun would that be? So, I’m going to put myself in the wing tips of a newbie sales guy who just started with Widget International. I’ve been in sales for 8 years, which puts me around 31. I’ve had several managers but never did figure out what they did.
The night before I started I sat down and thought about what I wanted/needed from W.I. Here’s what I’m hoping my new sales manager can do for me:
- Even though I feel that I’m a good salesperson I want the sales manager to assess my skills in the field.
- Am I as good as I think? Hopefully the manager can clue me in on my strengths and weaknesses.
- My time management leaves a lot to be desired. I am looking for direction on how to prioritize activities.
- I’ve been stuck between sixty and seventy thousand and I want to get to a six figure income.
- I tend to talk and present too much during sales calls. How do I avoid that?
- I’m not sure what my long term goals are or even should be. I could use some help defining them.
- What do I need to do to be a top flight salesperson?
- What are the chances for me to move into other areas within the company if I so chose?
I created these from memories I had from the 70’s and 80’s when I was a salesperson. These were what was passing through my brain at the time. What I find interesting is that these wants/needs were open ended, vague, lacked specificity, and were few in number. Based on what I have seen of salespeople today I don’t think the environment has changed. If anything salespeople today are in even more need of strong, organized leadership from sales management. The question is, are they getting it?
The Final Thought: “The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.” Elbert Hubbard