Entrepreneur Jim Coudal once said, “The reason that most of us are unhappy most of the time is that we set our goals—not for the person we're going to be when we reach them—we set our goals for the person we are when we set them."
As they say, “Therein lies the problem.” Sometimes simpler is better. The good news is that there are SMART goals, which is an acronym for:
Let's take a look at each of these dimensions, beginning with specific. If you know the segment you’re going to address, or if you’ve had success with a particular segment in the past, you have already narrowed the field. These are the people you’re going to address, so you can tailor your marketing for them.
Secondly, making your goals measurable. Don’t just say, “We want to grow our sales.” Choose a percentage or a certain dollar amount. Say you’ll increase your margins. If your goals are vague, then you’ll never be sure whether you got there.
Third, make your goals attainable. You need to believe in them. Your investors and stakeholders need to believe in them. Most importantly, your sales team needs to believe in them. If they don’t think they’re reachable, it’s going to be an uphill battle.
Fourth, make sure your goals are realistic. In that context, they need to be backed by research and math. How do you determine the overall market potential? How do you determine your percentage of addressable market? How do you determine the price per offering and the price per customer, or the price per sale? These are the kind of questions you need to ask.
Lastly, keep your goals time bound. This gives you an idea of whether you’re staying on target or slipping up. I’m sure you’ve heard the analogy about flying a plane between continents. 95% of the time you’re off-course because of wind drafts and atmospheric disturbances. So, pilots need to check their headings constantly, and changing course accordingly to ensure they’re going in the right direction.
Along with these suggestions there are pitfalls to avoid. If you’re working in a team, be open to how they would prefer to be managed, how they would like to be held accountable, and what should be done if they fall short. You also need to put structures in place to ensure consistent progress toward their goals. So, all of these multiple levels of buy-in have to be in place to ensure success, which includes checking on the progress you’re making. The more frequently you measure your progress, the easier it will be to make the necessary adjustments.