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When Setting Sales Goals Always…

I’m a big Jeffrey Gitomer fan. If you’ve read my blog for long then you’ve probably seen his picture and read some of his quotes. I find his writing style unique, entertaining and most importantly, educational. I’ve used his material in my sales training and frequently recommend his books. I also put my money where my mouth is because I own all of his books. Yup, I have the Little Red Book, Little Black Book, Little Gold Book…I have all those Little Books. And I own a copy of The Sales Bible. It’s not the leather bound, King James edition with my name engraved in gold, but it’s worth its weight in gold…if you do the things Gitomer suggests.

I think I’ve painted a clear picture; I’m a Gitomer disciple. But, even though he wrote The Sales Bible and I’m a disciple, I recognize Gitomer is human and makes mistakes just like all of us. Some of you who are his followers might be shouting at me through your PC, “Blasphemy! Away with him!” Please read on before you excommunicate me.

Several weeks ago, in his weekly Sales Ezine he posed the following question about goal setting, “When setting goals in sales, you should always:”

A. Write them down and tell others.

B. Reward yourself when you reach them.

C. Make them reasonable.

D. Never set them too

While there is some validity to each answer, I chose answer A, “write them down and tell others,” because that’s a proven method for success and therefore holds the most potential. In fact, out of more than 4,000 responses, 60% of people made the same choice that I did. However, to my surprise Jeffrey’s “correct” answer was B, reward yourself.
I won’t dispute that for some people a reward might help them stay the course and achieve their sales goals. It might be personally more motivating for Jeffrey because he’s a highly self-motivated individual. Unfortunately I don’t think the same can be said for the majority of salespeople let alone people in general. The research in social science is very clear; the principle of consistency is a HUGE motivator for people to follow through on prior commitments. Because people feel an internal pressure to do what they say, making goals public will help many more people reach those goals as compared to others who set goals but keep them private. In Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book Influence Science and Practice, in the chapter on Commitment and Consistency, a study by Morton Deutsch and Harold Gerard is cited on this very subject. Results from their study were clear, “students who had publicly recorded their initial positions most resolutely refused to shift from those positions later.”

Organizations that try to get people to change bad habits (over-eating, smoking, etc.) have taken advantage of the principle of consistency by having people make public commitments then sharing those commitments, with friends and family. Here’s a simple rule to remember; people live up to what they write down.One more way to increase the odds of reaching your goal would be to incorporate the principle of scarcity as opposed to rewarding yourself. A reward is a nice thing but too often we can forgo rewards and not feel bad. However, when we think we’ll lose something, research has found our motivation changes rather dramatically. How can you incorporate scarcity? Try putting $100 of your own money on the line. Go to the bank, get a nice crisp $100 bill and give it to a trusted friend. Tell your friend, “Look, I have a goal I really want to meet. If I don’t meet the goal you have my permission to give the money to [name a charity]. But, if I meet my goal you have to give me my $100 back.” That’s a win-win because if you succeed that’s great. If you don’t, a worthy cause benefits.

So here’s the deal; whatever you choose to do, if you truly want to succeed, start by setting a goal. But don’t stop there, write out your goal then make it known to others. By doing this you’ll take advantage of the principle of consistency because it’s in your nature to begin with. Then ramp it up a bit by putting something of value on the line. Oh yes, and when you reach your goal, take Jeffrey’s advice and reward yourself with the cash you got back because you’ll have earned it.

People Like to do Business with People They Like

You’ve probably heard this one before, “People like to do business with people they like.” Sales trainer/author Jeffrey Gitomer puts it this way in the Sales Bible, “All things being equal, people prefer to do business with people they like. All things being not so equal, people still prefer to do business with people they like.” Both of those describe the psychological principle of persuasion known as “liking.”

But liking doesn’t just apply to business, it extends to pretty much everything. Think back to the last time you did something with other people. Did you think, “Hmm, who to I like least? I think I’ll call them to go to the movies (or dinner or golf, etc.).” Of course you didn’t, you called someone you enjoyed being around.

When we like people it’s natural to pick up the phone to call them for social or business reasons. So being likable can help you in lots of ways. I’m not talking rocket science here. When I interview people and I ask, “What’s the most important part of selling?” the answer I get most often is one simple word, “relationships.” If you’re not in a “one and done business” (i.e., car sales, homes, or other big ticket items), I tend to agree with that answer. In my business, insurance, our people do form long-term relationships with agents and CSRs so likability is huge.

I usually follow up my question with something like this, “If you get this job, and you’re getting ready for your first sales calls, what will be your strategy to build your relationships quickly?” This is where most interviewees fall flat. They know their current customers like them but they don’t really know why. If they don’t understand that, then building strong relationships quickly is a matter of hit or miss. If they do understand what causes people to like them, then they can look for ways to tap into that and get those new relationships off to a good start.

First and foremost, we like people who are like us. That can encompass many things such as where you’re from, favorite sports teams, similar interests or backgrounds, to name a few. Once you notice something you have in common it is incumbent upon you to tap into that by speaking up.

I always think of my wife, Jane, when it comes to this. If you’ve ever met her then you now she’s a diehard Steelers fan!! When I was a kid I hated the Steelers…with a passion…but, after 21 years of marriage and a lot of football, I’ve become a fan too. What Jane is so good at is connecting with people. It doesn’t matter where we are in the country, if someone has Steelers sportswear on she’ll say, “Go Steelers!” Quite often that leads to conversation which would lead you to believe Jane and the stranger had known each other for years.

And it’s not just the Steelers. Once, while having a drink at Cheers in Boston, she overheard someone talking and recognized the accent as being from Southwest Pennsylvania. She asked about it, was correct, and a conversation followed.

Those were simple things any of us can do, if we take the initiative. If we see something we can connect with, we need to simply raise it to the surface and let nature take its course. The other important point to note is, when you talk about what you have in common it usually elicits good feelings. As people come to associate those good feelings with you, that’s where liking happens. That’s when they start thinking of you when they have a need or want to do something social.

In the coming weeks we’ll look at others ways you can tap into the principle of liking. Now here’s the really cool thing; if you try the things I teach you, not only will people come to like you more, you’ll actually like them more as well. And who knows, that could lead to some new friendships along the way.