Week 49 – Leadership – Chapter 13

Those who think that a monkey wrench actually wrenches monkeys might also think that you need a sales manager to manage sales. But is that really the case? What is clear is that those who do not have goals will end up where others want them to be. That is why goals are like guiding stars. But how are good goals established in sales?

What is the difference between leadership and management? If you work with Windows, you will be familiar with the “File Manager” or the “Finder” if you’re on a Mac. These operating system tools do not lead; they administer files. This illustrates the difference between the two: Leadership provides direction and purpose. Management administers.

Leadership also means knowing your goal. It means you can clearly state your desired result. Stephen Covey, in his excellent book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” describes, among other things, the following principle of success:

Begin With the End in Mind

A good goal means describing the prospective and desired state. It’s as simple as that. Complete the phrase “What we aim to achieve is . . .” Here it is important that the desired state is actually worth achieving.

A vital element of success is being able to tell good goals from bad ones. An example of a bad goal would be assigning an employee (or yourself) the task of doing 25 cold calls. The corresponding formulation would not help either: “What we aim to achieve is a total of 25 cold calls with new prospects.” My question is: How will this benefit you?

Wouldn’t it be better if instead of 25 cold calls you made only three, but that these three proceeded in such a way as to yield concrete steps toward realistic future contracts?

Preisverhandlung und Abschluss © Fotolia/ Jr Casas

Reaching your goal cosistently © Fotolia/ Jr Casas

Do you see the difference? In the first case you are simply describing a task, namely to make x number of visits or y number of phone calls. Granted, these are useful activities that serve to bring about the desired sales result. However, this in no way establishes the goal to be achieved. The actual goal is surely to pave the way for subsequent steps and to initiate a prospective sale.

Thus, make sure that you remove all extraneous elements from your goal definition, namely those that only serve to describe intermediary steps.
In what follows, I would like to offer you a few examples of how to better define your goals.

What We Aim to Achieve Is . . .

. . . to make one phone call to a new prospect each day in which concrete steps are agreed to with the prospect from which we can realistically expect a revenue exceeding x dollars within the next three months.

. . . to evaluate every contact at a trade fair according to their decision-making relevance and their corresponding revenue potential, and that we can immediately tell what degree of priority we should assign to them.

. . . to conduct the next price negotiations in such a way that the lowest price limit is made clear and the decision is left to the client, so that at the end of the negotiation there are no additional steps or measures necessary from our side.

. . . to conduct at least the second conversation with a new customer in such a way that we know the name of their decision maker and her most urgent problem. Her idea for a solution should be so clear to us that we are able to summarize it in writing for her.

As you can see, clear goal descriptions function like autopilots. Every reasonably competent employee will now be in a position to assess the extent to which she has achieved her goal. That means she will no longer need someone looking over her shoulder, telling her what she needs to do or refrain from doing.


Instead, as a leader, you will be encouraging mature employees to be their own leaders through the setting of reasonable goals. Incidentally, you can also use this method to lead yourself.