How to make your sales goals real and yourself accountable

Achieving your goals

“A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.” Samuel Goldwyn.

There are a lot of quotes and adages that reflect the idea Samuel Goldwyn was getting at. The heart of the matter is this: When we get serious about something, we put it down in writing. Until something is on paper (or perhaps the computer screen today) it’s nothing more than an ephemeral idea.

Writing it down in a place where you and others can read it, makes it tangible and real. When it becomes a physical thing, it is something that can be engaged and become part of your real world experience. These are some of the reasons I always stress the importance of the process of writing a business plan.

But in the same way that a business plan helps hold you accountable to the big picture of developing your business, a personal/professional journal helps hold you accountable for other goals, and today I’m going to focus on sales goals.

Making sales goals real

You may have some number in the back of your head that you would like to reach in sales. That’s fine, but it’s not concrete enough to make a difference in your life. You need to express your sales goal on paper, preferably in a journal. Then each day you need to review the actions you took the day before to reach your goal as well as express your plans for the day that will further your efforts in achieving your goal.

Until you have your sales goals in writing, you haven’t really committed to them. When they are written down, and you visit them on a daily basis, they move from being “feel-good” ideas to hard goals. You see, you can’t be held accountable to a vague idea; it would be like trying to judge the winner of the Olympic high jump competition without a bar being set across two standards.

And continuing with the image of the high jump, consider this: If Olympic athletes were merely jumping through thin air, virtually any of them could feel like they were doing well…perhaps even setting a new world record on each jump.

There would be no motivation to improve!

Motivation by sales goals

A jazz musician friend of mine once told me about the time he went to a small “clinic” being conducted by noted jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock. He was in college at the time and the audience was all young college students.

One starry-eyed, idealistic budding musician asked Herbie Hancock about what made him compose. Was it beholding the beauty nature? The hustle and bustle sounds of New York City? What was this cosmic force? Not even taking a moment to think about it, Herbie Hancock answered, “Deadlines.”

That’s actually very similar to what sales goals are. They are a kind of deadline that you either make or don’t make and this is the key to why writing them down and making them real is important: They can’t motivate us until they are real.

Motivation is what setting goals is all about. You can’t be motivated by something that is not real. Here’s the way the process goes:

  1. You come up with a sales goal and write it down in your journal.
  2. The goal motivates you to start working toward it.
  3. Daily, you evaluate and measure your progress against your goal (journaling).
  4. Both poor and good progress enhance motivation as you continue to work toward your sales goal.
  5. You return to step three until the goal is met and you set another goal or you accept failure.

I’m a strong believer in connecting with a business coach and/or a mentor; they will help you set goals and hold you accountable for meeting those goals…among other things. However, I know that many reading this will not start working with a coach. The very least you can do is hold yourself accountable to your sales goals and that process begins with writing them down and charting your progress each and every day.

If you can’t do that, then you need to take a good look at yourself to discover exactly how serious you are about the success of your business.