Rescue Goals Before Year's End

You began 2002 with the best intentions.

September 1, 2002

You planned to double your income. Or, perhaps, you set a goal to replicate last year’s numbers but work smarter and take more time off.

Now, however, with only four months left in the year, you realize your plan isn’t gelling. Do you accept defeat? Pray for a miracle?

Neither. Treat goals the same way you treat your PC when it freezes: Reset your system. Create new, attainable goals or devise new ways to reach your original goals.

This three-step process will help you get back on track over the next 120 days.

1. Monitor your activities.

Log your business and personal activities—minute by minute, hour by hour, for two days. Then, evaluate your activities to determine whether they’re helping you achieve your goals.

If you’d set a goal to increase your production by 20 percent this year, are you doing what you need to do—for example, making your planned 20 cold calls a day and sending out a marketing mailing twice a month—to reach that target?

If not, schedule those tasks into your daily routine. But also, pay attention to why you haven’t accomplished these tasks. Were you unrealistic about what you could do in a day? Are you working on your Web site or doing paperwork at times you should be making calls? Or has a personal issue eaten into work hours? The answers to these questions will help you create a more realistic schedule, which will, in turn, help you map out reasonable goals.

Similarly, if you’re doing the tasks you set out to do, and still aren’t reaching your goals, then you may need to step up your prospecting or modify your goals for the remainder of the year.

2. Look forward, not back.

OK, you’ve identified what isn’t working. Don’t fret over the past. A sales manager friend of mine once said, “I have an imaginary compass in my head in which north means the direction to more listings and sales. So every morning, I focus on moving in that direction to reach my goals.”

3. Set doable goals.

Study previous years’ sales figures. If you’re new to the business and have a limited track record, review what you’ve done to date. Does your sales history support the goals you’re trying to achieve? If so, are your goals supported by your market, personal obligations, and available time?

Say you set a goal of earning $100,000 in commissions this year. If, to reach that, you need to close 10 sales a month for the rest of the year, you’ll need to do a lot of prospecting. Consult your log to determine whether you have enough time each day to prospect. If not, reduce your expectations.

Next, determine your most reliable ways of making sales, discarding methods that haven’t panned out. Say you planned to call 20 past customers a month, but you haven’t been making the calls because you work from home and fear your children’s voices will undercut your professionalism. Or you work in a cubicle and are self-conscious about coworkers overhearing your calls. Consider shifting to an e-mail marketing system or a personalized letter campaign.

If cold calls haven’t brought results, focus on your tried-and-true prospects, such as weekday open house visitors, FSBOs, past customers, or your social sphere of influence.

Remember, you are the only person who has the power to restart your business. So push the reset button.

Danielle Kennedy is a consultant and speaker on real estate sales and marketing topics. She is the author of three books, How to List and Sell Real Estate,Seven Figure Selling,and Workingmoms.calm: How Smart Women Balance Career and Family.

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