What happens when you don’t set goals for your small business? Unfortunately, all too many businesses know: over 80% of small businesses avoid or forget setting goals for themselves.
There’s no trouble with that if your small business has an ambitious culture that’s always focused on incremental improvement. But if you find that your small business needs a quick jolt, setting goals effectively can be one of the fastest ways to turn it around. Here are some ways to set sales cycle and prospecting goals for your small business that will lead to change:
Create the Systems that Help Achieve Your Goals
In themselves, sales goals won’t accomplish much. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to sit down and write that you want to double sales within two years. If you forget about that note, toss it away, and change nothing about your business, you’ve set a goal—but you haven’t done much else.
Instead, think about setting a goal along with the plan for its achievement. Think about specific goals that make it possible to measure your progress. In other words, don’t think about goals alone. Think about the system you can install to regularly check your progress on those goals.
The problem with writing down goals without systems for their achievement is that you’ll find it easy to revert to old habits once the goal is achieved—or even if it’s not. Taking daily action is an effective “system” to meet a new goal—such as setting a goal of cold-calling more customers. But implementing a goal along with the installation of a lead generation system would change the paradigm.
Choose a Goal-Setting Strategy that Works For You
Depending on the type of goal you want to set, there may be different goal-setting strategies that suit you best. Here are some suggestions for goal-setting strategies for a wide range of different business goals:
- Setting sales targets: Whether you want to set monthly prospecting goals or make your goals quarterly, you can increase your sales by measuring sales performance and sales strategies against incremental goals. This type of goal-setting is valuable for anyone who needs to motivate a sales team or get over the hump of past performance.
- Ambitious, or “stretch” goals. You’ll hear a lot of advice in goal-setting that says to set realistic, achievable goals. But sometimes, issues like sales performance or growing an annual revenue target requires that you get a little more ambitious in your approach. “Stretch” goals—goals that are intentionally setting the aim high—can help. These are goals that should feel almost a little uncomfortable, forcing you to rethink the paradigms that have brought you to your current level of sales performance.
- Activity goals. If you know that 100 leads can turn into $5,000 of business on average, you can reverse engineer your own numbers to create action-items that drive revenue. For example, if you want $50,000 in new business, you would know that you would need 1,000 new leads if the numbers hold up. This allows you to set goals of your personal business activity, giving you a clear number to hit every month.
The Keys to Goal Setting
Frank L. Smoll at Psychology Today typically recommends that students and athletes set goals that adhere to the “ABCs”: goals should be achievable, believable, and athletes need to be committed to them to make them work.
But you don’t necessarily need to focus on achievability and believability for now. The key word: commitment. You need to set “sticky” goals for your business—setting sales goals that will actually remain the modus operandi—if you want the goals to make a difference.
To set goals that help bring about commitment from a team member or a broader sales team, consider doing the following:
- Set rewards for team members who hit sales targets. When you have specific sales targets, for example, you’ll know which team members are hitting those targets along the way. You can encourage this incremental action by putting rewards in place that foster commitment to the goals throughout the year.
- Let team members share in the success. Be open about your process to encourage investment in the broader goals of your small business. You shouldn’t expect that team members should take on ambitious stretch goals due to this alone, but it helps them to see their role in the overall context of the team.
- Monitor the progression of your goals. Whether you set a revenue goal or any other measurable bottom line goal doesn’t always matter—what’s important is that you can set milestones along the way. The sales process should be informed by the progress you’re making against these goals. Being ahead of the goals means you can relax a little and also search for alternative systems to help in other ways. Being behind the goals can require a little extra effort to meet your intentions by the finish line.
- Connect your action with results. Although it’s a fine goal to “attend a new conference every quarter” or “read a business book every month,” it’s also important to make sure that your goals can produce tangible results. Connect an action with these results by focusing on bottom-line milestones. Are you increasing sales? Revenue? Are team members contributing to the overall sales figures? Set targets that will provide answers to these questions.
- Create team goals. Your goals will have a larger impact if you can apply them to entire teams. Personal goals are important—and they can even be fun. You can also encourage members of your sales team to set personal goals by providing them with incentives. But even in a small business, action happens at the team level. Make sure that your teams know this and encourage them to work together to achieve common goals.
Once you’ve identified an area in which your business needs to improve, it shouldn’t be difficult to imagine what your goals might be. Choose a goal-setting strategy that works for your specific needs, identify the systems you can install to work side-by-side with these goals, and provide the incentives to bring your team together. As you measure your goals against monthly or quarterly milestones, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how to move forward as a business.