Sales Secret: Listen and TRULY Hear

By Jeff Beals

Ask any sales professional about the key to success in the sales business, and there’s a good chance they’ll say, “You have to listen to your client.”

As a sales strategist, speaker and author, I interview many successful sales reps, managers and executives.  I always ask them about the secret to successful selling. The answers tend to be similar. One time, after yet another of them mentioned the importance of listening, I responded with a slight tone of frustration in my voice:

“Everyone says that listening to the client is the most important skill a salesperson can have,” I said, “yet few salespeople actually bother to listen! It’s a cliché. Yes, you have to listen to your clients, but most salespeople do a lousy job of it.”

The sales leader responded, “You are right. The key is to listen and TRULY HEAR.”

Salespeople think they are listening but they are really just pretending to listen.  They’re going through the motions and not really comprehending what the client or prospective client is trying to communicate.

The more I pondered this, the more it reminded me of an experience I had back when I was in graduate school and working for the university as a graduate assistant.

An Ear-Opening Experience

Each month, we grad assistants were required to attend professional development sessions. The topic during one of those sessions was “active listening.”  The presenter was some sort of “active listening guru.”

What she said made sense…Stand or sit with an open stance – arms not folded and legs not crossed – and lean slightly toward the person who is talking.  Nod your head and show interest with your eyes and facial expressions.  Make reaffirming noises to assure the speaker that you are actually listening.  And finally, paraphrase back the last few words of each spoken paragraph.

If you do those things, the presenter said, you will be engaged in the conversation and will make the speaker feel understood and appreciated.

At one point, the presenter said it was time for all of us to role-play what we had just learned.  She told us to pair up with another audience member and move our chairs so we were staring at one another. The presenter informed us that we would each take turns speaking and actively listening.

I was paired with a fellow grad student named Sandy.  We agreed that Sandy would talk first and I would actively listen first.  The facilitator blew a whistle to indicate it was time to start.  As Sandy spoke, I monitored my posture and all my non-verbal messages. I nodded.  I showed interest with my facial expressions. I paraphrased back certain words.  I made sure my arms were not folded for even one second.  All in all, I was pretty good at this active listening stuff.

Or so I thought.

As soon as the facilitator blew her whistle indicating it was time to switch roles, it suddenly occurred to me:  I hadn’t the foggiest clue what the hell Sandy had just told me!

How You Can Truly Hear

I was so focused on the mechanics of good listening that I never really HEARD what she had to say.

This happens to so many professionals on an almost daily basis. People intend to listen to their clients, but in the end, they don’t truly hear.

How can you fight this tendency and not fall into the fake-listening trap?

It’s not easy, but here is what works for me.

When I begin a conversation with a prospect, current client, colleague or some other professional who might refer business my way, I set my brain to “listening mode.”  I tell myself that the person in front of me is going to say something that will have a direct impact on my success.  It’s my job to find it.  I try to approach the conversation like a detective who has to keep digging until he finds the right information.

That may or may not work for you, but it helps me a great deal.

Whatever technique, you use, the sales experts are right: you DO have to listen and truly hear.  Showing interest in a client helps build a trusting relationship.  Discovering what the prospect values makes it possible for you to do business with them.

The key is to “listen with results,” not just going through the motions making it look like you are listening.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Sales Secrets from a Mexican Tourist Town

By Jeff Beals

To unearth the age-old secrets of successful selling, I journeyed 2,600 miles to Cabo San Lucas on the extreme southern tip of Baja California Sur.

Actually, it was just a vacation.

But during what was a carefree trip spent mostly on the beach and in margarita bars, I inadvertently received a Mexican marketing lesson and crystal-clear insight into what it really takes to be successful in selling services and products.

The unexpected lesson came at me from two different angles – from above and below. One angle was luxurious, affluent and exclusive; the other was “street selling,” commerce in its very traditional and primitive form.

Let’s start with the luxurious angle. We had the good fortune of staying in our friends’ opulent condo, a lavishly appointed place with an interior design worthy of an architectural magazine. As the guest of a resident, I was offered the “opportunity” to sit in an information session organized by the management company. Of course, the session was actually intended to sell me my own piece of real estate paradise (or at least a two-week share of it).

Normal vacationers run like hell when offered such an “opportunity.” Not me. I love real estate and am fascinated with marketing, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to learn. The free breakfast buffet and piña coladas were just icing on the cake.

Wow, the real estate agent was so effective – she was charismatic, well informed, a great conversationalist with such strong interpersonal skills. The meeting was private, not some presentation in an auditorium. The pitch was soft-sell, much more focused on relationship-building than high-pressure closings. We talked for two hours. Most of the time was spent discussing the local area. We talked about politics, culture and a great deal of Mexican history. She asked questions – lots of them. A good salesperson gets to know her prospects inside and out. She knew what information she wanted from me, and she asked whatever questions were necessary to get it.

In a clear attempt to play to my ego, she said, “The advantage of a time share is that you pre-pay your vacation. That means a man of your stature is essentially forced to set aside time in your busy schedule to relax and be with your family. That will make your wife happy and give your kids memories for a lifetime.”

Now, she acted as if I was a much bigger deal than I really am, but what a great angle! She found what I valued and focused on how her product could satisfy that value.

Then there’s the other side of sales in Cabo.

As is common in Mexican tourist towns, street hawkers are omnipresent. They sell everything from traditional souvenir items to whale-watching excursions to staged photos of you downing a shot of tequila on the beach while sporting an oversized sombrero.

There’s so much selling, you get kind of sick of it, which can lead to flippant brush-offs and irritated responses of “No thanks!”

While walking to lunch one day with my wife and our friend, a street vendor approached me and displayed a handful of silver bracelets.

“Hey man, you need one of these for your pretty lady,” he said.

“Her?” I asked, pointing at my wife. “She doesn’t even like me anymore,” I responded playfully.

“Maybe this bracelet would help,” he said.

“It’s hopeless; nothing will help. She doesn’t want anything to do with me,” I insisted.

A pause and a smile… “Get one for your next wife!”

His humor and creativity stood out among the sea of street vendors all saying the same thing. What’s more impressive, however, is that he was trying to find something I valued. Had I been telling the truth, it may have been a successful pitch!

How interesting – the methods of selling I experienced on this Mexican vacation were very different, yet the lessons were the same: it all comes down to value! Whether you are selling exclusive real estate or future garage-sale items from a pushcart, you are successful when you find the buyer’s value points.

The successful marketer and the savvy salesperson know that people buy what they value and only what they value. It is the salesperson’s job to find out just what that value is. Value is determined by the prospective client, never by the seller or marketer.

How do you find what your prospective clients value? It’s simple. Start by building rapport and then ask the right questions.

The street hawker with the bracelets built rapport through humor and creativity. Because it was such a brief encounter, he didn’t have the luxury of asking me a lot of questions, but give him credit for trying to find my value point as quickly as possible.

The condo salesperson gave a textbook performance. She built rapport with me and asked the right questions. She now knows what I value. She didn’t make the sale, but I suspect I will hear from her periodically. As I get closer to retirement age, I might reach out to her!

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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How to Create a Whole New Industry

By Jeff Beals

The thought of it might cause you to say, “Ewww!”

It’s kind of creepy in a way, and some people fear it could lead to illicit activity, but a new “industry” has opened for business and is starting to grow. It’s professional cuddling.

You read that correctly. You can now work as a professional cuddler.

If you want proof that the service-based economy has overtaken the production-based economy, this new profession should convince you.

A recent Wall Street Journal article featured the emergence of professional cuddling, which supposedly is aboveboard – non-sexual and fully clothed at all times.  The industry is gaining popularity.  There’s even a free location-based app to help clients find cuddling services near them.  Some cuddling pros ply their trade in rented storefronts.  Others come to the clients’ homes or even host clients in their own homes. Some professional cuddlers have installed security cameras for safety purposes.

Here’s how it works…Professional cuddlers charge an hourly fee or an overnight fee depending on how much cuddling you want to purchase. Once the paperwork is signed, the cuddling commences, which could include bear hugs, snuggling, spooning, squeezing, and if the client requests, “tickling sessions.”

I’m not sure professional cuddling is the type of long-term, sustainable business I’d want to invest in (Can a person make a living wage as a professional cuddler?), but the growth of such a business gives us valuable insight into life in 2015.

Entrepreneurship

For one thing, entrepreneurship is alive and well.  With more than 7 billion people on Earth, the marketplace for new ideas is huge.  All you have to do is find your niche within that huge market and offer a service/product that people value.  If the business stands on its own merit, and you promote it properly, you can conceivably make a living doing crazy things.  If some people are actually willing to pay someone to cuddle with them, then there are people who will pay for just about anything.

Providing Solutions

Buyers pay for what they value, and because there are so many diverse people in the marketplace, there are endless things that could possibly be valued.  If you find something that solves a problem and relieves someone’s “pain,” you stand a good chance of doing well.

In today’s society, life moves fast. Many people have become separated from their support systems – family and friends.  Despite the hyper connectivity that the Internet age has brought us, many people feel disconnected emotionally. Perhaps that’s why a cuddling business might work.  Study the market and find what needs are not being met then fill the void.

Adaptation

Some unconventional businesses such as cuddling services are springing up because people simply need to find new things to do.  Technology has allowed us to make monumental gains in productivity. That means fewer and fewer people are needed in factories and offices. As time goes on, technology will eventually replace higher-level professionals. For example, some experts predict that computers will eventually perform much of the work currently done by attorneys.

Soaring productivity has forced many of us into different professional pursuits.  Viewed more positively, productivity has given us the luxury and opportunity to create non-essential industries such as cuddling.  As mature industries need fewer people other industries rise up to take their places.

Creativity

Because the economy is changing rapidly, creative thinking is now more important than ever.  Idea generation probably will be one of the last human activities taken over by machines.  Those professionals who are always thinking and always coming up with cutting-edge ideas are the ones who will always have a place in a competitive market.

As you read this, creative thinkers around the world are working on new business models. Some of them will be so off-the-wall, that we will shake our heads when we find out about them. Despite the craziness, some of those wacky ideas will work and will make someone rich.

When I think about people making money from professional cuddling or any other non-traditional business, it reminds me that there are endless possibilities for anyone with a good idea and a strong work ethic.  The sky truly is the limit.

A given idea might not appeal to everyone.  In fact, a large percentage of the population might greet the idea with a resounding, “Ewww!”  Nevertheless, if enough people are intrigued, that idea stands a good chance of working.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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10 Ways to Stay Motivated in Sales, a Brutally Competitive Profession

By Jeff Beals

Sales just might be the most brutally competitive profession in the world.

With all the emotional, high-risk/high-reward scenarios playing out each year and with so much riding on your ability to close deals, how do you cope with disappointment?  How do you cope with the pressure?  How do you avoid burnout and stay motivated?

These 10 tips will help you keep it fresh and keep the completed deals flowing:

  1. Keep in mind that selling is a noble profession. Without sales activity, the wheels of commerce would grind to a halt.  Your work creates jobs and feeds families.
  2.  To cope with the inevitable rejection in a sales career, concentrate on your victories. Celebrate each one of them in your own way.
  3. Make it fun. Those who don’t find ways to enjoy their work typically don’t survive long in a brutally competitive industry.
  4. Find the joyful and positive aspects of your work.
  5. Be nimble and always ready to flip the switch between operational and selling activities.
  6. Playing to win removes the drudgery of day-to-day work. Stay motivated by thriving on the competitive aspects of your work.
  7. Draw inspiration and motivation from the people who surround you.
  8. Long-term success depends directly on character.
  9. Tell the truth even when it hurts.  Integrity leads to success. You will be rewarded with high levels of client retention.
  10. As you sell today, imagine what your legacy will be years down the road.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Everything I Needed to Know about Marketing I Learned from Wild Kingdom

By Jeff Beals

When I was a kid, I loved watching television on Sunday nights because that was when Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom was on NBC.

What a great show! It was amazing how much action and breathtaking photography could be packed into one 30-minute nature program.

The genteel host Marlin Perkins would narrate (and watch from the safety of the Jeep or helicopter) while hard-working sidekick Jim Fowler would wrestle a crocodile or subdue a giant armadillo.

Not only was Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom an enjoyable show, it was a useful role model for my current work. Mutual of Omaha was ahead of its time. Wild Kingdom is a fairly early example of a type of marketing/promotion that is especially prevalent in today’s social media-influenced marketplace.

Let me explain…

Mutual of Omaha is a Fortune 500 insurance company. Executives were searching for a unique way to advertise back in the early 1960s. They found that opportunity with Wild Kingdom and implemented it flawlessly.

The show was never about Mutual. Instead, the show was about the animals, the hosts and the opportunity for regular folks to watch stunning nature footage in their own living rooms.

Mutual of Omaha built up amazing goodwill by bringing fascinating content to viewers and associating itself with that content. Perkins would sometimes introduce Mutual’s commercial breaks by seguing from the show content. In other words, “Just as a mother lion protects her cubs, you can protect your family with insurance from Mutual of Omaha…”

Some of my readers know that in addition to my work as a speaker and author, I’m in charge of marketing for a regional commercial real estate firm. In 2004, a colleague and I launched a radio talk show focusing on business happenings in our local marketplace. Because we worked in commercial real estate, the show had a special emphasis on construction and real estate development.

When designing the show’s format, I remembered how much I loved Wild Kingdom as a kid and how much I respected Mutual of Omaha for making it possible.

I copied that model. My new show was NOT about me. It was NOT about my co-host. It was NOT about our company. It was about the content we covered. Sure, we made sure people knew what company was responsible for it, but the show’s content stood on its own merit.

And it worked! Eleven years later, we are still on the air and our program is one of the most popular talk shows in our local marketplace.

No matter what your business and no matter what you sell, you benefit when you give away something of value for absolutely nothing in direct return.

Today’s social media culture has made give-aways even more important. People want compelling content (or desirable stuff) for nothing. If the content is good enough and you positively associate yourself with it, you can profit handsomely. The key is to make it about the interesting stuff first and you second.

Maybe you are already doing this. If so, assess how effective it is. Do you need to increase the quality of what you provide?

If you are not currently giving away value to sell things of even greater value, you’re missing out. We are operating in the “gifting culture.” Give people what they love and interject your brand or product benefits just enough to create memorable, positive association.

If you do this properly, people will seek you out instead of you having to do all the chasing.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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In a Slump? Find Your Sales Accountability Partner!

By Jeff Beals

The superstitious among us are not going to be happy with me.  Perhaps I should not even bring this up, but I feel it’s my duty.  So here goes…

Sales slumps.

I dislike them.  I try hard to avoid them, but they sometimes happen.

I met with a good friend this morning over coffee and a donut.  She’s a respected sales professional and has amassed an impressive record over 20-plus years selling high-value products in a handful of different industries.

She told me she had been going through a mini sales slump this summer and just shaken free of it.

“How did you beat it?” I asked.

As it turned out, she simply phoned her best friend, another long-time sales pro, and asked her for advice.  They had an in-depth conversation.  Friend-to-friend.  Salesperson-to-salesperson. Two professionals helping each other be more successful. Two people who understand the challenges that come with selling goods and services for a living.

Actually, this phone conversation was really nothing new.  These two sales pros have been helping each other for many years.  They once worked for the same company but now they sell entirely different products.  But what they sell really doesn’t matter.  To one another they are counselors, coaches and cheerleaders.

You could call them “sales accountability partners.”

Any professional working in any industry can benefit for having an accountability partner.  In sales, a profession that requires you to work independently under heavy competitive pressure, these trusted confidants are particularly valuable.

Sales accountability partners lift you up when you need it and call you on the carpet when you haven’t accomplished what you said you would.  An effective sales accountability partner sometimes plays the role of the supportive friend and other times acts like a results-oriented boss.

Do you have a sales accountability partner?

If not, it would be worth your while to find someone who understands what you do for a living. Often the best sales accountability partners come from a different company or an entirely different industry segment.  The key is to find a high-quality person who can help you while simultaneously profiting from your advice.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Are You a “Client-Recruitment” or “Client-Retention” Company?

By Jeff Beals

As a sales leader, you need a frank assessment of who you are and what your organization is really all about.

For instance, are you developing sales strategy for a “client-recruitment” or a “client-retention” shop? Some companies operate in industries or markets that are rich in prospective clients. Those are client-recruitment shops. Other companies exist in an environment of client scarcity. Those are client-retention shops.

Of course, you should always have a healthy respect for client retention. As the old saying goes, “It’s cheaper to keep a customer than to find a new one.” That said, some businesses have more opportunity to find and attract a steady stream of new clients. You have to know where you stand and in what arena you compete.

As you prepare your sales strategy, figure out how much of an emphasis you can place on client recruitment versus client retention. Look at your business honestly. Assess your industry, your marketplace and your standing within that marketplace.  The level of competitive pressure directly influences your sales strategy.

Financial resources can also play a role in sales strategy development. If your company is young, you might not have the sales and marketing budget to match that of your competitors.  Some sales leaders work for firms that don’t allocate “enough” resources to marketing and sales support.  In such cases, every client is precious.  You better make sure your client service level is high, because you’re not one of those companies than can count on a steady flow of clients.

If you do operate in an environment of client abundance, it doesn’t mean you can be slovenly – a sales team that is lazy and takes clients for granted.  But it does mean you can take more risks and have more bargaining power in price negotiations.

So, think about your company…Are you a “client-recruitment” company or a “retention-company.”

Truth be told, you’re probably somewhere in the middle.

This Is Why You Don’t Accomplish All Your Sales Goals

By Jeff Beals

Tracking is the magic ingredient that makes the goal-setting process so powerful.

If you write your sales goals and put them in a binder that sits on the top shelf of a little-used cabinet, you are wasting a golden opportunity. Check your sales goals at least once a quarter, preferably once a month.

As you read the goals, think about what you have and have not accomplished. Determine if you are on schedule. In other words, at the end of the first quarter, you should theoretically have accomplished 25 percent of your goals. At the end of the year, thoroughly review and evaluate your performance on each goal.

You can buy a software program to help you with goals, and some CRMs have a component for your own sales goals, but I like to keep it simple.  I have created a goal-tracking spreadsheet that I use every year. I enter each of my goals. After each goal, there is a space for the date of completion. I also put in a line for writing notes or descriptive details. When a goal is completely accomplished, I place an check in a box.

Using a simple tracking tool has done wonders for me. Each year, my list of ambitions (and consequently my list of sales goals) grows longer, yet I still accomplish most of it. Any time I do anything related to one of my goals, I note it on my spreadsheet. This is actually quite enjoyable as I derive great satisfaction anytime I achieve another goal.

I keep past years’ goal-tracking information for a record of my life. If I’m ever feeling down on myself or if self-doubt ever creeps into my mind, I can pull out last year’s tracking form and remind myself that I have a lot to be proud of and that yes, I truly can and do produce results.

No matter how motivated you are and how diligent you are at tracking your goals, there is a good chance you won’t accomplish 100 percent of your annual plan. Don’t beat yourself up too much if this happens. At the end of the year, simply evaluate why you failed to do it. Then determine if the unaccomplished goal still is consistent with your values and the strategic plan. If it is, move it to next year’s goal-tracking list and get started on it earlier in the year. If the goal no longer is important to you, kill it and move on to more relevant goals.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps companies increase their profits and associations achieve their missions through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques.  He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. 

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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This Is Why You Don’t Accomplish All Your Goals

By Jeff Beals

Tracking is the magic ingredient that makes the goal-setting process so powerful.

If you write your goals and put them in a binder that sits on the top shelf of a little-used cabinet, you are wasting a golden success opportunity. Check your goals at least once a quarter, preferably once a month.

As you read the goals, think about what you have and have not accomplished. Determine if you are on schedule. In other words, at the end of the first quarter, you should theoretically have accomplished 25 percent of your goals. At the end of the year, thoroughly review and evaluate your performance on each goal.

I have created a goal-tracking spreadsheet that I use every year. I enter each of my goals (both personal and professional). After each goal, there is a space for the date of completion. I also put in a line for writing notes or descriptive details. When a goal is completely accomplished, I place an check in a box.

Using a simply tracking tool has done wonders for me. Each year, my goal list grows longer, yet I still accomplish almost all of it. Any time I do anything related to one of my goals, I note it on my spreadsheet. This is actually quite enjoyable for me. I derive great satisfaction anytime I achieve another goal.

I keep past years’ goal-tracking information for a record of my life. If I’m ever feeling down on myself or if self-doubt ever creeps into my mind, I can pull out last year’s tracking form and remind myself that I have a lot to be proud of.

No matter how motivated you are and how diligent you are at tracking your goals, there is a good chance you won’t accomplish 100 percent of your yearly goals. Don’t beat yourself up too much if this happens. At the end of the year, simply evaluate why you failed to do it. Then determine if the unaccomplished goal still is consistent with your personal mission, vision and core values. If it is, move it to next year’s goal-tracking list and get started on it earlier in the year. If the goal no longer is important to you, kill it and move on to more relevant goals.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps companies increase their profits and associations achieve their missions through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques.  He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. 

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

Click here to subscribe to Jeff’s weekly articles!http://bit.ly/1l86RC6

Click here to see sample videos of Jeff speaking to live audiences!  http://bit.ly/1gZqcoA

Goal-Setting Secrets: Aim Above the Mark to Hit the Mark

By Jeff Beals

The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We aim above the mark to hit the mark.” He was talking about goal setting. As an ambitious person, your goals should stretch you but still be reasonably attainable.

It’s January, the time when businesses and professionals are obsessed with goals. If you haven’t set yours yet, there’s still time, but you want to get it done right away.

Before we get into the particulars, please know that goals must sit upon a solid foundation. In other words, your goals should move you closer to your dreams while honoring your core values and synthesizing with your mission and vision statements.

Perhaps even more important than that, as indicated by Emerson’s quote, goals should force you at least a little bit out of your comfort zone.

There’s a fine line between ambitious and unrealistic goals.

“Setting goals for your game is an art,” golfer Greg Norman said. “The trick is in setting them at the right level neither too high nor too low.”

There are a number of reasons to set goals. They help you match actual with desired progress and give you a regular mile marker to chart your progress. Goals clarify and quantify your needs and wants.

Time Horizon

It is wise to have short-, medium- and long-term goals. Long-term goals would be in the 10- to 20-year range. Medium-term goals are in the three-to-five-year range. Short-term goals are in the one-year range.

A Permanent Record

Make sure your goals are in writing. There is something very powerful about putting them in writing. Unwritten goals are no better than New Year’s resolutions, and we all know how effective those are! Once your goals are recorded, you can’t forget them. By putting them in writing, you are making a psychological commitment to yourself to pursue these goals. You have made yourself accountable, since your goals are now part of a permanent record.

Disclosure

To make yourself even more accountable, share your written goals with another person. By doing this, you remember in the back of your mind that another person knows what you stated you planned to do in the coming year. If you don’t do it, that other person will know you failed. That alone is a powerful motivator.

Choose the right person with whom you will share your goals. It should be someone you know and trust. It should be a person who can keep this personal information about yourself confidential and not judge you unfairly based upon your goals. Of course if some of your goals are exceedingly personal, you could keep them off the list that you share with the other person.

Quantified Goals

The more specific a goal is, the more likely you are to accomplish it. Goals should be quantitative or at least measurable. It is much better to state, “I will attend at least 20 networking events this year” instead of saying, “I will do a better job of networking.” You can see that the first one is very clear. The second one is problematic, because it does not define or quantify “better.” The goal, “I will increase my conversion rate to 70 percent” is much better than “I will sell more.”

A Sense of Urgency

For annual goals, you may want to add a time element for further specificity. Examples might include: “I will eliminate 50 percent of my consumer debt by July 1.” “I will earn $50,000 in commission by the end of the first quarter.” “I am going to give at least one presentation to a professional organization each month.” Time elements add a sense of urgency, which most of us need to be successful.

Don’t Be TOO Rigid

Because we live and work in a dynamic world, goals should be subject to change. Unforeseen circumstances or new priorities could arise during the year. There could be external circumstances beyond your control that suddenly shift your priorities.

A myriad of happenings could force you to alter your goals. Don’t change your goals at the drop of a hat, but if something truly important happens, don’t be afraid to alter them.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps companies increase their profits and associations achieve their missions through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques.  He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. 

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