How are you doing with your goals? It's a question I've been asking my clients a lot. The answer I'm getting most is some variation on, "Um... not really sure."
I think that's because it can be a scary question. We're heading into the fall, and we're starting to think, "I'm probably behind. If I'm behind, there's no way I'll catch up."
Of course, you can’t know if you’re truly behind until you look to see where you are. And if you don’t know where you are—whether you’re behind on your goals, meeting them or even exceeding them—there’s no way to know whether you can get where you need to be.
As for catching up, I find that people tend to overestimate what they can accomplish in one year and underestimate what they can accomplish in one month. Given that there are three months left in the year, I’m confident that you can get there, regardless of where you are now. Especially if you break it down into the next 2-3 bite-sized steps, or Waypoints, that you need to take.
Step 1: Ask the Question
Getting started is often the hardest part. That’s why the first step is a small one: Just ask the question.
So, How are you doing with your goals? I’m sure you have more than one goal; you probably have goals in multiple areas, like revenue and profit, team members, and living your life. Don’t tackle them all at once. Start by asking the question about the goal that is most important to you, the one that has the most impact on your business, or the one that keeps you up at night.
Step 2: Answer the Question
I mean really answer it. The question isn’t about how you feel about how you’re doing. It’s about how you’re actually doing. For instance, if your question is How am I doing with my revenue goal?, your answer should look something like this:
When I asked myself this question, I found that I’m on track for meeting my revenue goal. In fact, I’m on track for having my Best Year Ever. I am super excited about that, but now is not the time to put it on cruise control. I have to keep driving if I want to make that happen.
That means I need to ask myself the next question: How many appointments do I need to stay on track? Depending on where you are, the question might be How many appointments do I need to get back on track? or How many appointments do I need to get even further ahead?
This is all about the numbers. A lot of people don’t like numbers, so I like to keep it simple. Say that I’ve calculated that I need $5,000/month more in the 3rd Quarter. If my average sale is $1,000/month, that means I need 5 more sales.
The only other piece of data I need is my closing ratio. If it takes me 10 appointments to close 2 sales, my closing ratio is 20%. So I need 25 appointments to close the 5 sales I need.
I’ve found that knowing the specific number of appointments I need gets me pumped up because it tells me that I have just one thing to do: Get 25 appointments. We’ll talk about how to achieve that in Step 3, but first let’s talk about other types of goals you might be looking at.
People and Life Goals
People and life goals aren’t as formula-based as revenue and profit ones, but well-written goals are always measurable. If you had a goal of hiring new people: How many have you hired, and are they performing to your expectations? If it was to increase the performance of your team members: How are they doing now compared to the beginning of the year? (It’s easy to compare now to then if you make a habit of evaluating team members in terms of how they’re doing: red for poor performers; yellow for those who need support and development; green for those who are rocking it and can be mentored into higher levels.)
What about life goals? If your goal was to be in the office fewer hours or days per week: How many hours or days are you actually in the office? If you planned to sign up for a painting class, volunteer in your child’s classroom, or take a vacation: Did you?
For each goal—whether it has to do with money, team members or life—write down the specific thing you need to accomplish in the next three months to achieve that goal:
- I need to make 25 appointments to close 5 new sales at an average sale of $1,000/month.
- I need to help a salesperson make more appointments and improve her closing ratio.
- I need to plan a weeklong trip to Costa Rica in December.
Once you know the specific thing you need to accomplish, it’s much easier to determine how to get it done.
Step 3: Lay Out Your Next 2-3 Waypoints
That specific thing you need to accomplish might still feel intimidating. Get 25 appointments?! Develop my salesperson?! Plan an international vacation? In just three months?!
That’s because we haven’t broken it down into bite-sized pieces yet. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you run a marathon? One step at a time. How do you achieve your goals? One Waypoint (or step) at a time.
So now let’s ask: Given what I’m trying to accomplish, what are the next 2-3 things I need to do?
Let’s look at examples with each type of goal.
Waypoint Examples with Revenue Goals
Say you run a handyman service, like one of my clients. Given your closing ratio and average sale, you’ve calculated that you need 20 appointments to close enough business to reach your revenue goals for the year. What are the next 3 steps you need to take to get those appointments?
- 1. Choose a target market you believe can deliver. For a handyman service, that might be local property management companies or local Airbnb owners. Make a complete list of the organizations in this target market.
- 2. Make contact, and learn about their needs. How you reach out will vary. In some cases—like with property managers--visits are a great way to introduce yourself and describe your services. Learn about your prospect’s needs by listening and asking questions. Take a flier or packet with your information and a treat, like muffins or cookies.
- 3. Follow-up and ask for the sale. This is the step so many people miss. Follow up with a phone call or email and ask for work. Remember that closing is the key part of closing ratio; the better your closing ratio, the fewer appointments you have to make.
Speaking of closing, don’t forget what comes after that: completing work and collecting payment. A custom deck company I worked with was generating $2 Million in revenue but didn’t have enough cash. It turned out they were closing a lot of deals but not completing the jobs and collecting the money at the same rate. By focusing on those important two next steps, they added an extra $1 Million in revenue and had plenty in the bank.
Waypoint Examples with People Goals
Say that you’ve looked at your goals around your team members and see that one of your salespeople is still yellow; they’re performing, but not very well. What next 3 steps will bring them into green?
- 1. Find out what’s going on. A team member might be yellow for any number of reasons. They might be branching out into a new region or industry and not have the contacts they need. They might be dealing with a crisis at home. They might not have the training they need. Pinpoint exactly what’s going on by having a calm, caring conversation with them. Let them know what you’re seeing in their performance, but spend most of your time listening.
- 2. Make a plan. Work with the team member to develop a plan for getting them the training, tools or support they need. This is another opportunity to break a larger goal down into 2-3 more manageable steps.
- 3. Provide support and follow up. Set up touchpoints where you and the team leader can check in and make sure things are progressing. In fact, you should be doing this with all of your team members through monthly mentoring meetings. They’re one of the most powerful things you can do to get your people to perform and develop them to a higher level.
Waypoint Examples with Life Goals
Sometimes you’re in a great place to achieve the goals you’ve set around living your best life but you just don’t make it happen. You can’t seem to get that date night on the calendar, or get home in time to meet the school bus, or take that vacation you’ve been dreaming about.
I get it. You’re responsible for keeping your business going and growing. You’ve been working so hard, you don’t know what it would be like to not work so hard. You feel guilty.
If you’re in this situation, you have 1 step to take:
- 1. Put it on your calendar right now. I mean it. Schedule it and set an alarm so you can’t ignore it. If your goal is something large like a vacation, that alarm will trigger you to set down the next 2-3 steps you need to take to plan it. But take that first step of committing.
Sometimes, commitment isn’t the problem. When you ask yourself what you need to do to start living your best life, the answer is that you need more revenue to hire more people or get your current team to perform better so your business runs well enough for you to step away for a couple of hours, a day, a week or longer. That’s a lot to achieve; it can feel overwhelming.
Again, break it down and ask yourself: Which of those things can have the most impact the quickest? Usually, the answer is getting your current team members to perform better. Higher performance brings up revenue and makes hiring possible. It also gives you breathing room to take that afternoon or long weekend.
You Can Meet and Exceed Your Goals This Year!
You absolutely can. Wherever you are in your goals—meeting, exceeding or falling short—you need to take these 3 next steps:
- 1. Ask yourself where you really are with regard to your goals.
- 2. Be honest and detailed when answering the question, so you know specifically what you need to accomplish.
- 3. Break that down in the next 2-3 Waypoints or bite-sized steps you need to take.
If any of those 2-3 Waypoints feel too big, break those down too! I’m a fan of micro-stepping it: making each step as small as it needs to be so it feels achievable. The point is to make progress. Every step you take will give you a sense of accomplishment and get you closer to where you need to be.
Also, don’t go it alone. Get support from your spouse, a friend, your mentor or a great coach. I’d love to be part of that support team for you. Please