As we enter Q4, sales professionals in all industries are likely pondering the same question: Am I on track? If the answer, based on the best available hard numbers and the most objective real-world assessment, is “no,” then it’s likely that another question is looming in the shadows behind the first one: How do I get back on track?
The best answer to that second question involves what we call a cookbook.
A cookbook is a proven list of activities and behaviors that you can do every day and every week to be successful. We call this tool a cookbook because it operates on exactly the same principle as a recipe that’s been tested and validated by a professional chef. If you turn to the page of your favorite cookbook and find the page that reads “Chocolate Cake,” and if you obtain ingredients A, B, and C, and follow steps X, Y, and Z to the letter, then the end result you’re going to experience is a chocolate cake – not just sometimes, but every time!
Your sales cookbook should include an equally clear list of to-do items, a list that supports your personal income goal. I’m not talking about vague, impossible-to-measure entries like “be more persuasive during presentations.” I’m talking about a concrete set of actionable, measurable behaviors that you accept personal accountability for executing, day in and day out, week in and week out.
If you are now facing an income goal that’s more aggressive than you imagined, because something slipped a little earlier in the year, your job is actually pretty simple. You must look at your past history closely, objectively, and purposefully enough to create a tested, validated cookbook for hitting your goal before the end of the year.
Take some time to crunch the numbers. Perhaps the math arising from a close analysis of both your past history and your income goal for this quarter supports a weekly target list that looks like this: ten new referrals, three in-person trips to networking events, and 20 unique, new conversations with prospects. If that’s what you come up with, you will want to make sure your manager knows you are accountable for hitting those targets every week – starting now. And you’ll want to schedule time to meet together each week so you can evaluate your progress.
Ideally, your cookbook goals should be set at the beginning of the year, so you can use the midway point to reassess where you are, what’s working, and what’s not. For a lot of salespeople, though, creating and/or following a cookbook is a “moment of truth” that only happens later on in the year, often with the incentive of hitting annual performance targets. If Q4 is your wakeup call, your reminder you face a challenge because key goals are not being met, do something about it! Put a plan in place with concrete steps for improving performance. Then follow the plan.