Looking in the rearview mirror is a necessary skill when driving.

Safe lane changes cannot be accomplished very well without those occasional glances in the rearview mirror to see where you have been and what may be creeping up on you from behind.  Failing to do so can lead to disastrous results.

However, can you imagine spending all of your time looking in the rearview mirror?  What if it is not all of the time, but 1/2 the time?  That too can lead to disastrous results.

The best way to drive is to keep your eyes predominantly looking forward through your windshield, while frequently checking from side to side as well as glancing in the rearview mirror.

The same principle holds true for sales people and sales leadership.  A certain amount of time must be spent looking side to side to see what market influences are affecting your business and what your competitors are doing.  A certain amount of time must also be spent looking at past results to see where improvement and change must occur.

But the predominant focus in sales and sales leadership must be looking forward through the windshield – and moving in that direction.  The challenge is to find that proper balance.

I suggest the following as a pretty good rule of thumb for sales people:


  • Set your goals for the year and further – and break this year’s goals into quarterly targets.
  • Make your plan to achieve your goals.
  • Identify and qualify the leads you will contact.
  • Identify the skills and tools you need – and make a plan to gain them.
  • Step on the accelerator – work your plan.

Side To Side:

  • Become an avid reader and student of your industry – learn what is happening in the marketplace.
  • Find out what your competition is doing by asking your prospects and customers.  I will promise you that your competitors are calling your customers, so find out what they are saying.
  • Track your activity daily for analysis later.

Rearview Mirror:

  • After each prospect or customer interaction – immediately review the meeting and write notes as to what went well and what needed improvement.
  • Evaluate your call ratios based on the activities you’ve tracked.  Determine any areas in which your results are below the standard for your industry.  Improve skill sets based on what you see.
  • At the end of each meaningful time period – compare your results against your goals.  Evaluate changes that must be made.

On Monday we will discuss the same principles applied to sales leadership teams.


How much time does your organization spend, or do your personally spend looking into the rearview mirror?