I am frequently asked what I think the single most important factor is in determining the success or failure of a salesperson. My response is often met with surprise, because most people expect me to say something about the necessity of hard work and product knowledge, or the importance of a positive attitude. While these factors are certainly key components of achievement, in my opinion, the critical ingredient in determining success is one’s ability to stay focused on the accomplishment of meaningful goals.

Unfortunately, far too many sales-people look at the goal setting process as a burdensome numbers drill imposed upon them by their sales manager. It’s been my observation that both success and failure leave a trail and everyone is self-made, but only successful people are willing to admit it. Unsuccessful people don’t set goals and have a common tendency to blame circumstances, events and other people for their lack of focus and determination.

I was fortunate when I began my sales career as an insurance agent to have a manager who knew the value of setting goals and placed a strong emphasis on personal accountability. My first day in the office, he sat me down and handed me a legal pad, a pencil and a calculator and said quite emphatically, “A goal is nothing more than a dream written down with a deadline.”

Here are three tips to help you clarify and achieve your goals:
1. Determine where you want to go and chart your course. Your goals must be realistic and believable, while
at the same time, challenging enough to compel you to put forth your best effort and give you pride in their accomplishment. Avoid setting conflicting goals such as “I want to double my income and spend more time at home.”
2. Write your goals down and visualize their accomplishment. Anything that is worth achieving begins with a written plan. Because the mind thinks in terms of pictures rather than numbers, I also recommend creating a vision board. For example, I have a vision board in my office with pictures of a world map, expensive cars and a vacation home at the beach. I get excited just looking at it!
3. Review your goals and make adjustments as required. After takeoff, due to the ever-changing weather patterns, pilots must make minor adjustments to their airspeed and heading to stay on course for their destination. Review your goals daily and make minor adjustments as needed on a monthly basis.