In the blink of an eye, we are halfway through 2017 and if you are like most people in the business world, you set your goals in the last quarter of 2016. It’s time to strategize what you can do to create sales momentum over the next six months.
Typically, business articles about goals that are published in June put the focus on shortcomings, missed opportunities, and a variety of ways to acknowledge the disappointments of missing the target. This commentary aims to turn that idea upside down and focus on positive steps for the next half year. For those free spirits who are not held to ritualistic dates, you can apply the contents of this article to any six-month time frame.
Why Six Months
There have been 180 days +/- since you set your goal. This means you have worked at it for six months and there should be no surprises about the level of achievement you have obtained or the stumbling blocks you faced.
It’s time to review what has happened over the past six months instead of projecting what you would like to have happened over the next year. You now have a six-month record of actions, results, and modifications.
With this much focused time, you can create a new behavior or work out many of the kinks discovered when implementing a new or changed business process. You have collected enough information to know whether you should stay the course, make corrections, or scrap the whole thing and refocus on a new goal.
Have no fear if you want to change a goal after six months of effort: sometimes goals are set, but don’t provide the desired result.
Goal and Get It
Many people set goals with the best of intentions, but then take little or no action to make them a reality. It is not because they are unmotivated; it is because we are creatures of habit, and new habits are hard to create.
Why don’t people take action to reach their goals? There are two fundamental answers: they either don’t start working towards their goal, failure to launch, or they begin the implementation and get derailed for some reason.
When setting goals correctly, you have reverse-engineered the desired outcome. The vision is detailed down to a set of daily tasks and actions to take that bring you to your goal. The breakdown in goal achievement – or even implementation – can occur at many points in the beginning of the goal-setting process. Did you write your goals down in a notebook that you look at daily? “People live up to what they write down” is a quote taken from Robert Cialdini’s book Influence and is a true and psychologically accurate statement. When you write down and review your tasks/actions, it is an active commitment.
It is not easy to start new habits; it takes consistency, but don’t beat yourself up for a temporary derailment caused by a speed bump. When people remember that they did not perform a task/action that would be an accomplishment leading to their goal, they are on their way to making the goal a habit. Now the focus is on the action that must be taken and on the timing of the memory.
Let’s say you started down the path of reaching your goal, but somewhere along the way you got derailed. There are many reasons why goals get abandoned; one of the most common is that too many goals were set. This is an easy trap to fall into – once the wheels of goal-setting are set in motion, we want to conquer the world.
Take this mid-point in the year to identify one or two goals that will make the most impact on your personal or business growth and focus all your energy on them. You are not abandoning the others, only putting them aside to re-visit later.
Psychologist Peter Gollwitzer introduced the concept of “Implementation Intention, a strategy based on the “If-then” plan, which is a logical progression that can be employed by many processes including goal attainment.
Not dwelling on the goal-setting aspect of this process, implementation intentions provide a path to performance. At the core of the “If – Then” format, it is about answering the three Ws: What, When, Where (in any order). What are the actions to be taken, When will a particular stimulus occur, and Where will the action take place?
As an example of the process, let’s say the goal is to sell more LED lamps. (When) the customer expresses the type of fixture they are interested in, (What) you will mention the specific lamp and the benefit of using the LED lamp for their application, (Where) you will recommend the LED lamp while standing by the fixture the client expressed interest in.
As a society, we have always associated goal setting with the beginning of the new year. This year is not lost, don’t wait for January 2018 to begin anew! There are still six months to make changes in yourself and your business — all you need to do is to take action.
Six Months for Impact
There are several accomplishments you can make in the months ahead that will impact you or your business for the rest of 2017 and provide you with a foundation for 2018. If you did not set any goals at the beginning of 2017, this is your chance for a do-over.
Don’t overwhelm yourself if you are starting now. Setting three goals is a good number to start; they should not be devastating and must be easy to initiate action on.
A Simple Goal-Setting Strategy
With a half year in the record books, let’s make it easy to set yourself up for success for the balance of the year. Select a goal that does not have a big gap to bridge from where you are now to where you want to be. Two questions must be addressed:
Is the goal congruent with the desired outcome that will benefit the business?
Will the result of achieving this goal produce the outcome you want in six months or less?
That’s it! Many times thinking of the goal and setting up the strategy with tasks, actions, and measurements are sometimes much harder than acting on the goal itself.
Six-Month Objective Suggestions
Cross-selling is suggesting logical go-with items that complement the product the customer intends to purchase. Cross-selling is an easy goal to act upon and to be successful at in six months. The benefit is increased profit margins, better average sale, and happier clients.
Below are steps to follow to add cross-selling to your sales process.
Review your sales order history to identify the benefit of increasing LED lamp add-on sales. (We will assume for the article that adding lamps to the sale will make an impact.)
Select a set of progress points based on your current level of sales penetration. (For example, if 30% of your monthly sales are completed with the addition of LED lamps the next step is 40%, then 50% and so on.)
Prepare for – and hold – a team meeting that explains the goals, details, and the desired results.
Provide the team with several skill-training sessions to introduce the process of adding LED lamps to their customers’ orders. Begin with why LED will make their life better (i.e. less operating cost, longer life, ecologically friendly, zero UV, etc.). Role play with the team to practice the words and actions it will take to add on lamps to the order, continue the role playing until a new behavior is formed. Practiced repetition will build successful skills that work.
Inspect what you expect and share the results with everyone. Celebrate the success and train from the misses. When new activities lead to success, enthusiastically share the news with everyone and celebrate.
Upsell more customers by developing a down-selling process. This is another good six-month objective that, given time, training, and effort will reap boundless rewards.
Identify your product category tiers for each design style. Orchestrate with the sales team which premiere items or vendors will be shown first. Apply a logical step-down presentation progression until both the style and desire matches the customer’s budget. When the appearance and style of the lighting have been determined, upselling boils down to hitting or exceeding the budgeted amount for the purchase.
When starting with the best items, it is easy to present products that are downstream, and the client will often buy a better, more desirable item than they originally intended.
Setting new goals and working towards the goals you have established, become the lifeblood of your growth, adaptation and ultimate success. Discipline and a positive attitude are among the needed skill set required to compete and win in this new marketplace we are in.