In Tuesday’s post we discussed the fact that “Left Laners” in traffic, as well as the “Left Laners” in sales can be very frustrating and impede your progress.

Today we will dig a little deeper into the second of our sales “Left Laners”: Lack of Goal Setting.

If you ask anyone in sales or sales leadership the question, “Should you have goals and should they be written down?”  Everyone would answer the question yes.   However, the percentage of those whose actions would align with their answer would be embarrassingly small.

So why don’t these people set goals and have them written down?

The most common excuses… ahem, I mean reasons that I have heard for a lack of written goals can be grouped into three basic categories:

“Left Laner” Frustration: Too much faith in their memory

Many sales people believe they can wing it – “after all”, they say as they point to the side of their heads, “I have it all right here”.  If you are one of those people, I want to ask you a question.  What did you have for lunch on the first day of last quarter?  “My lunch is not that important.” You might reply.  I would agree, but aren’t your goals important and shouldn’t they get more attention than your lunch?

Right Lane Passing Solution: Stop relying on your memory.  Grow up and put on your big boy britches and your big girl slippers and realize that you will accomplish more of the things upon which you stay continually focused.  The most effective way to do that with your goals is to have them written down and placed where you read them several times each day.

“Left Laner” Frustration: Not understanding the importance of written goals

I have ready many times over the years that The Harvard Business School did a study that found that the three percent of their graduates who had written goals accomplished much more than the ninety-seven percent who did not.  Although I could not find any data specifically on that study, I did find a study credited to The Dominican University which empirically backed up the same thought process.  It was interesting to note that the Dominican study divided their pool of students into five categories.  The highest achieving group was the group that had written goals along with an “accountability partner” that helped them stay on track.

Right Lane Passing Solution: Understand and accept the premise that having written goals will put you in the group of sales people and sales leaders who achieve more.  Go the extra mile – find a close friend or coworker and be accountability partners to each other.

“Left Laner” Frustration: A lack of belief or confidence.

Many people are afraid to put their goals into written form because that implies commitment and they have a serious lack of confidence in their ability to achieve those goals.  They also are hesitant to have an accountability partner because they feel that they will be embarrassed if they miss their targets.

Right Lane Passing Solution: Change your self-talk and change your perception of failure. (See yesterday’s post  Also remember this good rule of thumb.  If it is a “rise up” goal, share it only with people who want to see you succeed; for example, a close friend who wants the best of success for you or a trusted mentor at work.  However, if it is a “give up” goal (like a diet or breaking a bad habit) also share those goals with those wonderful people in your life who seem to get a little extra joy from seeing you fail.  They will annoy you if they see you slipping and that will often get you recommitted to your goal.


Who would you pick for your accountability partner in a “rise up” goal?