In this article are my thoughts concerning goal setting for the single operator, the mom and pop or smaller pest control company. We all want to grow our businesses and of course by grow, I mean to add to the bottom line, ie: dollars. This is not only natural it is also imperative. No dollars at the end of to many days usually means we’re closing our doors. So we set about doing the very best we can at accumulating dollars. We make plans to achieve dollars, we have meetings on ‘how to’ create dollars, we struggle, we plot, we dream and we even set almost every goal we have centered around reaching certain dollar amounts. The dollar becomes the central drive and focus, however;
What if I told you that dollar centered goals could be in reality, a detriment to actually attaining your goal?
What? you say! How can this be? Please read on.
For many years in this industry I was tasked with the “goal” of getting to specific dollar amounts. It was the focus of every meeting and was in front of every sales person in our office everyday, good or bad. Daily, weekly and monthly monetary goals were set before me and if I did really well, hey, the grand prize of a Bahamian trip or big bonus was waiting as my reward at the end of the year. Sadly, I rarely hit my goals let alone ever fly off with the many other sales ‘hot shots’ to a sunny retreat filled with accolades and rum punches. No, for most of my sales career I languished in a slow consuming quick sand of missed dollar targets and I was stuck in a mirky trap of depression or fear that I couldn’t see my way out of. Sadly, I brought this same mentality of goal setting to my fragile new business and was for a long time stuck in the $$$ numbers trap.
Now, I had the training, it’s not my previous companies fault. I was taught the ins and outs of sales and could quote the many closes or techniques of “how to get a pest control sale.” However this wasn’t of much comfort as time and time again I slipped down the slippery slope of not hitting those all important dollar targets. It was only after years of frustration and failed attempts of reaching my goals that I found a better way. This is how and why I now set my goals.
Goals Should Be
Specific, measurable, realistic, attainable and time certain. As you’ll hopefully see when we set money goals we often fall short and simply repeat the same mistake day after day, month after month and year after year. Soon, goals are something we don’t want to think about let alone set, the sting of failure looms large especially for the small or single operator firms.
Lets say you set $150k goal for this year- lo and behold it’s August and you’ve only gotten to $50k. Not bad for some while laughable for others…. Neither of those points are relevant… The danger I want to point out is… You need $100k by December 31st to hit your goal… NOW–that’s neither laughable nor plausible for someone in this situation seeing how much time has gone by right? It’s VERY UNLIKELY you’ll hit your goal no matter who you are. You are set up for failure by your own hand.
Because so far you’ve been doing about $7100 per month…now, in order to reach your goal you have to bump that up to…. approx $20k…. So now you see the problem with dollar goals– when you fall behind it just snowballs which causes low morale and all sorts of problems.
So instead, I offer the solution of setting DAILY ACTIVITY GOALS and believe it or not you’ll see all of your numbers fall right in line without all the head aches, pressure or angst. By setting daily activity goals, not dollar amounts, I’m hoping to express to you that your goals will always be attainable and very rarely out of reach.
Say you set a goal of just seeing 9 people per day. Is 9 to much? Not enough? That’s for you to decide. For some hot shots I know (and that’s an endearing term btw- I stand in awe of good sales people) 9 is a joke and it’s more like 15 or 20 they pitch their services to everyday. Well GREAT! Again, there are so many awesome sales people out there but it’s the same principle.
So- we’ve decided that our goal is nine people per day and wouldn’t you know it around 1 o’clock you’ve only seen 3 people. Even on it’s surface does this sound overwhelming to you? My guess is no.
But if we turn it around to the old dollar figure system we find this is very close percentage wise to our $150k goal if you actually broke down the math to a daily dollar amount. IE; Your comparable daily dollar goal with our $150k example would be set at $625 per day. Ok you say, that’s not much… I grant you that if that’s all we’re talking about, you’re right. However, what happens when you miss that goal two days worth? Three days? a week? Now suddenly your a thousand or two behind. See the difference? Missed dollar goals always seem to snowball and so many times a sales person finds themselves pretty far behind for the day, month and year. It gets so bad so quickly that pretty soon they’re just hoping for a miracle to pull them out. Imagine trying to climb that hill that’s measured in thousands of dollars and each month just gets worse. Morale suffers, job performance goes down and it’s just miserable to be a sales person whose so far behind. Now say you’re that single operator who has a mountain of bills to go along with this. Take it from me, been there done that.
So again, our daily dollar goal saga…. It’s 1 o’clock and you’ve only hit $200– you’re only a 1/3 of the way there and the prospect of more than doubling your sales in less time can be daunting. This is the point where so many techs, sales folks etc. just give up because the task is too big and the goal is slipping away with every moment.
An activity goal however would translate as this; Your goal was to see 9 people but you’ve only reached 3. With your activity goal you only need to see 6 more people that day to reach your goal, in other words, one person per hour till say 6 pm and voila! Goal hit!! Regardless of actual dollars, you’ve ended the day on a positive note and just like the negative side of the missed dollar amount (negative results breeds more negative results) Positives breed positives. It’s that simple and you can take that from a salesman (me) who for years ALWAYS felt uncomfortable at the sales meetings like I was always under the gun and rather than enjoying my work felt as though I always had a cloud over my head.
Do you see how much more specific that is? How much more measurable, realistic, attainable and time certain this becomes? Because you’ll get to your “9” that day or make up a small shortfall the next if need be. Seeing one or two extra people is not a difficult task at all. But if all the sudden you are $600, $800, $2,500 or more behind the “$$$ goal”, it just becomes more and more unattainable. Does that make sense?
How much better would life be if you came home every night actually hitting your goal regardless if you sold a job that day or not? Rather than coming home and feeling beat up, tired, depressed and unmotivated to keep pressing on? Seriously–this affects 98% of all sales people. To be in sales you’ve just got to treat rejection like water on a ducks back but hey!! There’s only so much you can take right? And being a small bug company comes with a ton of other worries already doesn’t it? So why set yourself up for a possible (almost inevitable) downer on an all but to frequent basis?
They say that most new businesses fail in the first 5 years. Take a look around, how many other bug companies are in your town looking to get those same clients you want? That you NEED? The competition is stiff- don’t add to that by setting yourself up for a ride down that slippery slope lined with dollar bills as the bench mark. Unless you’re a stoic rock that treats “no’s” as a challenge and don’t mind falling thousands of dollars behind unrealistic goals, simply set activity goals. These are marks you can and will make on a very reliable and consistent basis. Believe it or not this is exactly what the top 2% of sales people do. It’s how they make very lucrative careers out of sales. It’s not a hard secret at all to learn.
The 2% ?
Let me tell you, these sales folks are just machines and they’ll always be on top of the leader boards. Let me go one further. THEY are the same ones that’ll tell you what I’m saying is true. Haven’t you ever heard “it’s a numbers game?” See x amount of people and you’ll get x amount of sales!!!! Does that not sound familiar? Yes it does. Why? Because you just read that same formula in this article from a ‘below average’ sales person (average at best) The top dogs know it’s all about “activity” and seldom worry about any numbers other than how to spend their commission checks. They realize that getting belly to belly is where it’s at and for them, if they want to hit $150k in sales they need to see x amount of people. So why not do what the best do? Stop worrying about money goals…set activity goals…
This not only keeps you off the slippery slope of number crunching but it also helps in taking the sting out of hearing “NO.” One more ‘no’ just means the next yes is that much closer, one more person to see… this means activity goals are your path to a happier sales life, a prosperous business and a great example that others will, one day ask you just how you did it. On that day you can simply give them this advice…….dollars will always follow activity.
Thanks for reading my blog.