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updated: 8/16/2016 9:36 AM

Do You Have a Sales GPS?

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I was driving to a sales call last week when it dawned on me how much easier it is to find my destination today than it was when I started my selling career. I used to spend every Sunday plotting my weekly sales calls on a foldout map to lay out the easiest and most direct route to navigate them. It was clearly an "inadequate" tool to use as it didn't provide information on varying dynamics and I, all too often, either got lost or delayed. What a difference technology can make! Last week, I simply inputted my destination into my car's navigation system, it built a route I could take and I was able to effortlessly arrive at my prospect's office.

Most new cars and all cellphones now come equipped with a Global Positioning Satellite program (GPS) enabling their owners to either arrive anywhere in the world via car, taxi or by foot! It offers suggested routes, providing traffic conditions, points of interest and detours, where necessary. The destination is entered and the program complies by identifying the path with step by step instructions! In today's age, there is no GPS for Dummies book needed!

In my weekly sales training classes, I help participants create a business GPS to assure they arrive at their sales goal destination. Ironically, it operates very similarly to a car's GPS, the difference being only that the destination is a numerical goal. The key to developing a successful business GPS is to develop weekly, monthly and year-end, dollar-specific goals, identify applicable sales professional behaviors to attain them, and, finally, unconditionally commit to them. Both a car's and business' GPS share the need for a map or vision to clearly demonstrate the route to the physical or numeric objective. When operating a car, the proposed route is shown on a large map providing an overview, projected time of arrival and other variables. In sales, it is represented by the targeted goal's strategy or plan. Optimally, the sales vision should be big picture in nature and communicate salespersons' progress, potential roadblocks and possible solutions on their journey to success.

Another critical component of a fully-functioning GPS is the step by step specific turns necessary to stay on the route and minimize disruptive factors. The car's driver receives precise information through micro-steps that are executed in an orderly fashion and the sales professional executes specific behaviors that were plugged into time blocks on a weekly calendar. In both cases, step by step activity must be followed in a specific sequence in order to either arrive at a location or attain a sales goal. Choosing to deviate from the designated path invariably spells needless delay or disastrous results.

Establishing sales goals and a commitment to their attainment during a specific time frame are the first two steps in creating a business GPS. The development of a specific strategy or plan is the third step as goals without plans are merely "daydreams". The final component, often totally neglected or poorly implemented, is the commitment to execute daily, short-term and long-term behaviors critical to goal attainment.

Our ability to navigate either simple or more complicated driving routes by car is nothing short of astounding when compared to our experience decades ago. The same unequivocally applies to sales quota achievement. If the driver follows the directions provided by the GPS, they are rarely, if ever, lost and almost always arrive at their destination on time. The same phenomenon plays out in sales when a business GSP is faithfully executed. Sales professionals are never lost and do achieve their targeted sales goals. Following a car's or business GPS is identical in depth and breadth, the only variable is the individual's willingness and commitment to execute as directed. Go conquer your worlds.

• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. Text "SalesTip" to 71813 to receive Bill's bi-weekly newsletter.