Customer Experience News & Trends

What sets top sellers apart?

Time and time again, studies show the difference between great salespeople and average salespeople is their approach to setting goals. Do your salespeople follow the best approach?

Here are nine traits that establish effective goal setting:

  1. If it’s not in writing, it’s not a goal. An unwritten want is a wish, a dream, a never-happen. The day you put your goal in writing is the day it becomes a commitment that will change your life.
  2. If it’s not specific, it’s not a goal. Aiming at achieving sales success is not a goal. Until you translate your vague wishes into concrete goals, you aren’t going to make much progress.
  3. Goals must be believable. If you don’t believe you can achieve a goal, you won’t pay the price for it.
  4. An effective goal is an exciting challenge. If your goal doesn’t push you beyond where you’ve been before, if it doesn’t demand your best and a bit more you didn’t realize you had in you, it isn’t going to change your ways and elevate your selling career.
  5. Goals must be adjusted for new information. Set your goals quickly and adjust them later if you’ve aimed too high or too low. Many of the goals that have the greatest positive influence on our lives are those we set in unfamiliar territory. As we learn more about the realities, we adjust our goals down if they become unbelievable, or up if they lose their challenge because they’re too easy.
  6. Maintain a balance between long-term and short-term goals. Don’t set short-term goals for more than 90 days. If a short-term goal takes more than 90 days, you may lose interest in it. In some cases, you may want to turn a short-term goal into a long-term goal. If all your goals are long-term, you may have difficult keeping up your performance because the payoffs are too far in the future.
  7. Have a set of goals for every day and review results every night. Spend time visualizing yourself possessing what you’ve set your goals for. The more you desire your goals, the more ready you’ll be to pay the price to achieve them.
  8. Set activity goals, not production goals. How many people will you see today? How many demonstrations will you give? How many rejections will you go looking for? If all your goals are production goals, you’re setting yourself up for a slump. A few lost sales, a change in the economy or competitive conditions and you’re hopelessly behind. But if your daily and weekly goals are based on activity (the number of prospecting calls to be made, the number of presentations to be given) you’ll keep on meeting your goals during challenging times.
  9. Review your goals regularly. New goals may rise out of the old ones you’ve already achieved. Understand that your goal-setting and goal-achieving program is a lifelong commitment to growth.

Adapted from How to Master the Art of Selling (Warner Books, NY) by Tom Hopkins. Mr. Hopkins is founder and president of Tom Hopkins International. He can be reached at

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