What are your objectives for the coming year?

It’s a question I often ask people in business, and it’s not just because I’m curious. That question, and the answers, tell me whether our services might help those people to reach those objectives. That question is especially effective as a conversation starter at networking events because most of us generally like to talk about what we do and intend to do.

If the answer indicates our firm could help them, then the conversation continues so we can learn more about each other and our companies. If it doesn’t, then we can move on, saving us both time. We can also create value by referring a prospect to a third party who could help them achieve their objectives.

Asking your prospects and your customers what their objectives are can do the same for you and your business.

Even more important: Ask yourself. The answer is critical to your enterprise’s success in 2024.

Do you want to expand domestically or internationally? Add new products or services? Test new marketing channels or hire salespeople? Maybe you want to launch a new business in a new field.

Recently I spoke with Mike Elko, the successful second-year head football coach at Duke University. Always known for a strong basketball program, Duke surprised the football world by beating a perennial power, the Clemson Tigers, in its opening game in September. Since then, Coach Elko’s Blue Devils have racked up five more wins.

I had the opportunity so I asked the question: What are your objectives this year? He didn’t hesitate: “To be the best version of ourselves.”

“If we can accomplish that,” he went on, “we might be capable of beating Carolina, we might win the ACC, we might be invited to a bowl game. But all of that will be determined by becoming the best version of ourselves.”

Did you notice that Coach Elko’s single overriding objective led to several others? That seems to be the way it works. Know the direction you want to go and you’ll take the steps along the way to get you there.

Did you also notice the Coach Elko’s objective was not an impossible objective? Performance coaches and business advisors, including our firm, recommend setting challenging goals that will be difficult to reach—goals that you haven’t reached before and might have even considered unreachable before. But, if you improve your skills and your processes and put in maximum effort, you do believe that they are achievable.

We use that approach in our popular FOCIS® consultative sales training course. We know that 20 percent of salespeople are the top producers and that they bring in 80 percent of business-to-business and business-to-government sales. Yes, they are that much more effective than their less productive colleagues. We know which behaviors separate the most productive salespeople from the least productive. We also know how to teach the skills and behaviors that take them to the top and enable them to set goals they’ve probably never set before.

By becoming the best version of themselves—step by step—salespeople can meet their sales targets, reach their desired income level, earn well-deserved bonuses, and win the big opportunities that will define their careers. Not surprisingly, it’s what the best in other fields do, too.

“I have short goals,” said LeBron James early in his career: “To get better every day, to help my teammates every day. But my only ultimate goal is to win an NBA championship. It’s all that matters.”

He even dreamed about his ultimate goal: “How it would look, how it would feel. It would be so amazing.” And then it happened. Not once but four times with three different teams.

Another way to think about becoming your own “best version” is to tap the concepts behind the quality movement. One foundation principle of achieving high quality operations is continuous improvement, or, to tap even earlier motivational thinking, getting better “every day in every way.”

Several years ago, Adam Cushing took FOCIS® when he coached at Northwestern. (Now, he’s coaching with Mike Elko at Duke.) Even though he was already NU’s top recruiter, he wanted to be better. In our experience, all top producers have that attitude. He realized that to progress further he would need special training, and he came to us.

Using the behaviors he developed in the FOCIS® course and coupled with our coaching, he did upgrade his consultative recruiting skills. Adam approached the course the way he would an athletic training program. He learned the process, practiced outside of class, and asked for help. In short, he worked harder, and more efficiently, than anyone in the class. It was no surprise to us that he got better and better each week.

During the course, we teamed up with Adam to create a custom process for recruiting student athletes for Northwestern. Several players Adam recruited eventually made it to the NFL.

Whether your goals are in the for-profit world or the not-for-profit world, the FOCIS® approach results in custom sales and persuasive communications processes to achieve those goals.

So before the New Year arrives, be sure to ask yourself: What are my objectives for the coming year? Then you can begin setting the specific goals that will help you achieve those objectives.

To learn more about our FOCIS® consultative sales course and other business-building services we offer, just get in touch with me at 847-446-0008 Extension 1 or pkrone@productivestrategies.com.


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