The key to Achievements

Golden key and puzzle pieces - 3d render illustration

Dr. Purushothaman
August 23, 2013

Have you ever set a stupid goal? You know, a goal made in the rush of excitement with little thought as to how it was going to get done or how it fit with the other priorities of your life. I have sold expensive pieces of exercise equipment for pennies on the dollar and have thick notebooks of training material lining my shelves as testimony to the futility of stupid goals.

Goal setting, however, is still an important part of my life. But a certain kind of goal setting, SMART goal setting. Goals are SMART when they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant to current business objectives, and Time bound.

When goals follow this formula, they also get done. Which, or course, is the whole point of goal setting.


1. In one simple sentence, state your goal and make it SMART.

The one sentence rule forces you to be sharply focused and state clearly and plainly what you intend to accomplish. This is incredibly powerful. Gaining clarity right at the start of the goal planning process. Most business leaders never do this in setting their goals.

Here is an actual statement from a SMART Goal of salesman I worked with:

To achieve $1.8 million of agricultural sales in 2006 by selling $600K of fertilizer by April , $600K of fungicide and growth regulator by June, and $600K of lime, herbicide, and other products by December.

Note how this goal is very specific and measurable, by both amount and product. In analyzing his accounts at the beginning of the year, it became obvious that it was achievable and the dates we set were in line with the growing season of his customers. It is also aligned with the overall business objectives of the company and his own family's financial goals.

In short, it is SMART.

2. List the main benefits of achieving this goal.

If we want to lose weight, fitness experts tell us that we should focus on gaining health, a postive outcome, not all the food weare not allowed to eat on our diet. When we place the benefits of our goals before us, they become powerful motivators for the process of change.

The benefits of this sales professional's SMART goal were:

1. I will feel a great sense of accomplishment of having sold more product than in any other year.
2. I will feel good about the job I am doing for my company, a place I love to work.
3. I will enjoy increased pay through commissions and bonuses.
4. I will set the table for years of repeat business with these customers.

Understanding fully the benefits of fuflfilling this goal taps the power of our emotions to get it done.

3. List the steps of action for achieving this goal

Here is where the rubber meets the road and, according to my client, the part of the goal planning process gave him the most value. We took the time, step by step, to list exactly what it would take to get it done.

Each step was given a date and a deadline that was then placed into his calendar.

I held him accountable for hitting each date and deadline as we continued our work together. As they were met, we celebrated, or, if they were missed, we made a mid-course correction and moved on. Here are some of those steps of action:

1. Update and analyze soil samples of my all my customers by April 24.
2. Write up fertilizer blend recommendations based on the soil samples by March 8.
3. Make appointments with all my customers to present recommendations by March 10.
4. Apply first round of dry fertilizer by March 30.
5. Apply second round of liquid fertilizer by April 30.

4. List the possible obstacles for the completion of this goal

This is a missing link when most people set goals, asking oneself the question, "What can go wrong?" It is NOT smart to think only about the new opportunities a goal brings you without analyzing the obstacles that stand in your way.

Furthermore, if a goal has nothing standing in its way, it would have been done by now. By uncovering as many of these obstacles as possible at the beginning of the goal planning process, you can address them right from the start so they don't derail performance.

In other words, if there are clouds on the horizon, bring an umbrella so that you are ready for them! With this salesman we identified these three obstacles:

1. Letting a bottleneck develop by doing all my own soil sample work 2. Losing sales due to pricing concerns 3. Losing sales due to product supply

5. List the possible solutions to the obstacles of this goal

Having placed the obstacles this sales professional faced on the table, we realized that some of them had hindered his goal completion in the past. So we began to design solutions, which included talking with his manager who had no idea that there were product supply problems!

Here are this SMART goal's solutions:

1. Work closely with scouts to help with gathering soil samples
2. Get pricing strategy set BEFORE customers bring it up.
3. Solve supply problems at the management level.


Following this exact SMART goal planning process, this salesman increased his sales from $1.2 million to $1.8 million. His goal was accomplished, not in the year's timeframe we gave it, but in SIX MONTHS. That is a sales increase of 50% in 50% less time.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about this story, however, is that this was not a sales superstar. He was a normal, average guy, very much an introvert. His sales had been stuck at $1.2 million or less for over the past five years. Yet, with a SMART system in place, he experienced success beyond what he thought he could possible accomplish.

What would an increase of 50% of sales in 50% less time do for your business? Get SMART and you could experience the answer to that question.

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