My ninety-four-year-old neighbor jokes that for her, thinking ahead means buying green bananas, assuming she’ll be around to eat them when they ripen. Thankfully, most of us can plan a little further ahead than that, and making long-term plans increases sales effectiveness. Where do you (as an individual and as a company) hope to be this time next year, or in three years, or in ten years? If you’re not sure, it’s time to figure out a few goals.
Think ahead about yourself. If you enjoy sales and sales management, picture yourself in your ideal position three or five years from now. What steps did you have to take to get there? What opportunities can you leverage now to make that a reality? Many sales people report that articulating career goals is one of the fastest ways to get out of a sales slump and find a bit of additional motivation in the workplace.
Think long-term for your employees. One call center was located in a college town, and the company’s goal was to be the perfect college job. The manager wanted college students to work there for three or four years, coming in part-time after their classes. Because the goal was neither short-term work nor creating decade-long careers, the company able to structure their recruitment practices, time-off policies, management strategies, and pay structures around the goal of the perfect college job. Consequently, the goal was quickly within reach. Without a goal for the types of employees you want to attract and retain, it’s difficult to form a vision for the company.
Think long-term for your clients. Do your goals include having a handful of very loyal, long-term clients, or would you prefer higher volume with more turnover? Perhaps somewhere in between? If your goal is to keep clients for a very long time, this will influence your customer service as well as your advertising. If your goal is to provide quality service, then wish the customer a nice life and move on to their friends and family, it makes sense to allocate your resources a little differently.
Of course, like most things in business, long-term plans are always subject to change. The very act of making (and subsequently re-making) plans for you, your employees, and your clients is a productive sales enablement exercise because it enables you to adapt your short-term behaviors and priorities to meet your longer-term goals. Think ahead and reap the rewards.
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