In all things, remain diligent.
We all have goals, and we all have dreams. I see a lot of chatter around the Internet about the importance of chasing your dreams. While I agree that it is important for us all to have and pursue our dreams, those are best realized with concrete goals. Goals themselves are great, but we have to put action plans around goals in order to see them be successful. It sounds simple, but the truth is that goals must be broken down into actionable steps in order to achieve them.
I was talking recently with a friend who manages people, and he was expressing his frustration about a particular employee who doesn’t seem to have a strategy around customer relationship development. He takes customers to lunch, exists on the crumbs that happen to come his way, but he doesn’t seem to have a plan for how to grow those customer relationships.
Here’s the thing…. Success requires a plan. A plan is comprised of steps toward accomplishment of a goal. If you are responsible for cultivating and nurturing customer relationships, each relationship requires its own plan map toward success. It sounds like a lot of work, because it is a lot of work. So many people want to be in a sales capacity, because it looks easy. True, some days it is easier than others, but it is so much more about the strategy than the fun lunches.
In order to succeed in this type of role, one has to listen well. One must study one’s customers and their business and industry to understand trends that affect them and how to insert value into their processes. It’s not enough to “have a catalogue” or be the less expensive alternative. We live in an electronic age, and your customers can always find a better price. The better price isn’t the point. The better value is the point, and it’s more than what appears on an invoice. The better value is bringing me solutions to problems that we’re not discussing already. The better value is forecasting my need before I’m aware that it exists.
All of this takes work, and it takes critical thinking. In order to do this well, you must be organized, tactical, and strategic. There is work to be done every day toward your goals, but if you get out of bed and are confronted with a big question mark, then you’re doing it wrong. You need a plan, and you need to execute against that plan daily. Some days will yield more fruit than other days, but every day requires actionable investment.
Think of it this way… If your boss comes to you and asks what’s going on with a particular client, do you say “Yeah, we just had lunch last week?” I’d rather hear “I took them to lunch last week. I’ve been trying to position XYZ specific solution with their HR department, and I’ve struggled to get in front of the right decision maker. I was able to get my contact to invite the HR manager to the lunch, and we have an appointment set for next week to demo with XYZ.” See the difference? One is filling a hole in the calendar. The other is moving toward a strategic goal.
In your own world, it is critical to break dreams down into goals and goals down into actionable steps. Then, my friend, you have the opportunity to make daily plans and avoid question marks.
Here’s to working toward your dreams every single day! Tomorrow Begins Today.