Jim missed his quota last year because of unexpected customer cancellations. He realized that he needed to do a better job of follow up and get out in front of those cancellations. He knew that he needed to stay involved and manage the order processing all the way through delivery, installation and training. He listed every specific task that needed to be accomplished after he closed a sale and assigned completion dates to all of them. Then he determined who had responsibility for each of those steps in the process.

Jim used a project management tool that listed all of these action items and who had responsibility. He then determined routine and frequent follow-up dates and critical dates for each of the items listed. Each day he would start by reviewing all of the check points and critical dates for each sale in progress. He would make frequent yet brief contact with everyone who had responsibility for fulfillment of the order, including the customer.
That year Jim’s actual gross sales results were only slightly better than the previous year but his cancellation rate was reduced by half of what it had been. As a result he achieved 124 percent of his net quota. Beyond the outstanding quota achievement, however, the real success story was that customer satisfaction improved both externally and internally as his customers and co-workers appreciated his attention and help.

At the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Matthew Emmons was preparing to fire his last shot in the rifle competition. He was in the lead and expected to win a gold medal. All he needed on his last shot was a score of 7.2 to win and up until this point his lowest score had been a 9.3.

He took aim, fired and hit the bull’s eye. The only problem was that Emmons’ shot hit the bull’s eye on the wrong target. Instead of hitting the target in his lane, he hit the target in the lane next to him. China’s Jia Zhanbo took the gold medal and Emmons ended up in eighth place. He was devastated.

In an interview after the event, Emmons said he normally sighted the target number through his rifle’s viewfinder first and then he would lower the gun to the bull’s eye and shoot. He said he was nervous and did not do that on his last shot.

It’s Friday night and you have just collapsed on the couch with a bowl of popcorn to watch a late-night horror show. Suddenly on the TV a beautiful girl appears, lost in the woods, running from some unseen monster. She comes to a dark, abandoned house and runs inside seeking a place to hide.

She stumbles through the house with the monster right behind her. She hears a chainsaw crank up and in a panic she suddenly realizes … she needs to take a shower! In the next scene, demented chainsaw man is destroying the house, cutting in to the bathroom and catching shampoo-covered shower girl completely by surprise!

If you are being chased by a crazed chainsaw killer and suddenly decide that you need to take a shower, you have lost sight of your primary goal.

In the end, how hard we worked, how much effort we expended and the great things we may have accomplished will not serve to excuse having missed our primary goals.