This is part two in a series on The No Excuses Guide to Selling Without a Sales Manager.
One thing that a good sales manager does is set goals and accountabilities. These two activities are vital to both the salesperson and the organization. Goals help the salesperson know what is expected of them. The accountabilities set up some reporting structure, or governance, so that both the salesperson and the sales manager have an understanding of where things are and what might need changed.
You may be forced to work without the support of a sales manager. But you needn’t work without goals and accountabilities. Let’s get started.
Setting Direction with Long Term Goals
It’s easiest to start the process by determining your long-term goals and working backwards.
The primary questions to answer here start with “What do I have to produce this year in revenue or profit?” You need to know what you need to produce to be successful for yourself. But that isn’t the only goal a sales manager considers.
A sales manager would help you set that goal and make sure that it is aligned with what the company needs from you. You need to consider how you tie your goals to what your company needs from you. Answer the question: “What do I need to produce for my company? What do they need from me?”
You also have to answer the question “What do the clients that will make up that revenue need to look like in order for us to succeed for them?”
Without a deep understanding of the company’s real target market, their dream client, you can spend a lot of time and energy producing results that don’t benefit your company (or you). If your company is a boutique firm designed to provide customer intimacy and an experience, winning by selling price is really not winning at all.
Set Revenue and/or Profit Goals: What amount of revenue are you going to generate in a calendar year? What amount of profit is this revenue going to generate? What do you personally need to be successful? What does your company need you to produce?
Develop a Target Client Profile: Whom does your company best serve? Who do you create the most value for as a sales organization? What are the titles of the people you call on and work with? What problems do you solve for them? Who is your dream client and why?
Develop a Nurture List: Your best dream clients are already taken. These are the long-term target accounts for whom you can do breath-taking, jaw-dropping, earth-shattering, mind-blowing work. You are going to need to work on these accounts for some period of time to win them, and you should start making that list now. Answer the question “Who are the prospective clients for whom we can make the biggest difference?”
These activities will get you started, but it is missing a lot of what a sales manager might do for you and the organization.
It doesn’t do a good enough job translating the needs of the business to your plan. It doesn’t share with you what the business believes the future will be like and why they have made some of the decisions that they have made. It doesn’t do much to translate the businesses strategy (or how your company intends to create value and win) to your long-term goals.
You can and should work on developing a greater understanding around these areas as you move forward.
The Here and Now of Short Term Goals
Once you know what your long-terms goals are, you can break those into more manageable and more actionable short-term goals. If you need to generate $1,000,000 in new revenue, then you know your short-term goal is to generate a $250,000 each calendar quarter.
You need to know a few other things to make your short-term goals meaningful. You need to know the average size of a deal. If your average sale is $50,000, then you know you need to win five deals each quarter to be on track to make your goal.
You also need to know what your win rate is when you compete for deals. If you win half of the deals for which you compete, then you know you need to compete for at least ten deals each quarter to reach your goals. This is simple arithmetic, and it is good enough to get you started.
Set Quarterly Revenue Goals: Using your long-term goals, set quarterly revenue and profit goals. These goals will give you something actionable for which to aim your efforts, and will give you some milestones along the way. How much revenue do you need to generate quarterly?
A good sales manager will hold you accountable for producing results long before the year is over and you’ve missed your numbers. You have to do this for yourself.
Set Quarterly Opportunity Goals: No opportunity is ever closed before it is opened. Set a goal for the number of opportunities that you have to create to reach your goal. Keep in mind your win ratio, so that your goal will be tied to your reality (No one wins every deal). How many opportunities do you need to open and create each quarter?
Answering these questions will help to inform your activity plans.
Holding Yourself Accountable
One of attributes of the top 20-percent of salespeople (and all successful salespeople) is that they hold themselves accountable for the results that they need to produce. They don’t need someone else to hold them accountable, and no one in the world is tougher on them than they are on themselves.
You don’t have a sales manager to hold you accountable to your goals, so you will have to hold yourself accountable. This may require a shift in your mindset. You can no longer rationalize your missed goals. You can’t blame anyone. You are your own sales manager, and you are going to have to answer to that part of you.
Not to worry. We’ll spend a whole post on accountability at the end of this series. For now, get started with pen, paper, and an Excel spreadsheet working on your long-term and short-term goals. Get started writing your target client profile, and get started making a list of the dream clients you intend to nurture and win over time.