If you have ever failed to achieve a New Year's resolution, it's probably because you didn't come up with a process to achieve your goal and measure your progress. Suppose you wanted to lose weight. A trimmer waistline is the goal. The effort it takes to get there–in this case, an exercise regimen that you can plan and then track on a scale–is the process.
Organizations often fail to achieve what they desire because they focus on the ultimate goal rather than design and track the process required to achieve a result. For instance, when CEOs and CFOs review how the sales team is doing, they typically compare actual monthly and quarterly sales data with the company's sales goals. The problem here is that sales goals are a secondary metric of sales performance. They should focus first on the inputs–i.e., the process–that will create desired results.
If you resolve to lose weight but do nothing else, you could step on the scale every day and get nowhere. But a better plan is to develop a process likely to produce weight loss. Exercise for 45 minutes five days per week. Count your calories every day. If you are not willing to create and then measure these primary inputs, you will never achieve your goal. Your weight measurement is secondary to the primary measurements of diet and exercise.
It is the same in business. Here are five concepts to consider as you pursue your 2012 sales goals.
Success can be accidental If you think that sales results are an accurate measure of performance then you would be wrong. Housing demand is down 70% and lumber prices have dropped 50% since 2004. Meanwhile, roofing demand is off only 40% while prices have more than doubled in that time and created growth. Roofing companies are thriving ... accidentally. The only way to truly succeed on purpose is to outperform your competition, not merely rise and fall with them in the industry tide.
The "primary" is difficult to measure It is easy for salespeople, managers and executives to measure the "secondary"–i.e. the sales results, which are provided by your computer system at the end of each day or month. Primary measurements are not available at the touch of a button. They require discipline and a commitment to self-honesty and tracking, often by hand, every day.
The "primary" must link to your sales goals Based on a 10% closing ratio, you need to prospect 10 times your sales increase goal during an entire year. If you want to double your market share in five years, you may need to create a target prospect list that is four or five times your current client base.
Primary measurements are not an event Sales success is a discipline, much like diet and exercise. Your primary goals must be broken down into smaller time frames that can be measured regularly and corrected on the fly.
Success is cultural I have consistently seen that the most successful organizations are those that celebrate the little actions that create big long-term success. Doing so often requires a complete cultural change in organizations, one that makes primary measurements such as prospecting, database growth, and closing ratios the benchmarks of sales success.
If you only measure the end results, success will be a matter of luck. Wishing is not the same as doing. You can read the monthly and annual financial reports and hope that sales success falls in your lap. You can stand on the scale every day and hope you reach your weight-loss goal. It would be better if you actually did the exercise.
Rick Davis is the president of Building Leaders, a training organization devoted exclusively to the sale of building materials. His next book, "The Sales Secret," will soon be available. To order it, go to www.buildingleaders.com, 773.769.4409, or contact Rick at email@example.com.