Yes, it is that time of year again—time to set goals for next year. If you do, it can be the best year ever in your business. This year, I will skip the details about goal-setting. Through the power of the Internet and the fabulous service of Drapery & Window Coverings magazine you can easily refer to my article last year, loaded with details on how to set goals (see: www.dwconline.com/DWC/2005/dec/money.html).
WHY SET GOALS?
This year, I will focus on why you want to set goals and fundamentals to prepare. Possibly even more importantly, we will address the fears that may be holding you back. Many studies have shown that only about five percent of business owners set goals. Yet, it can be the single most powerful way to visualize and plan your business to earn the money you deserve.
I have just completed two Window Coverings University sales classes and a round of regionals where we set goals for nearly 100 window coverings professionals. You would be astonished at the insights they discovered when they found how easy it is to achieve—and exceed—their goals when it is done logically.
Once you know the sales you want, and you are prepared correctly, it was so easy! Eyes lighted up and each goals setter discovered that for the first time he or she was truly in control of the business. You can do the same. Here are four steps to prepare and execute a solid goal-setting program.
STEP 1: KEEP RECORDS
If you don’t have records to tell where you are, it is impossible to correctly plan improvement. In classes and seminars I always ask the question: How many appointments did you have last year? Fewer than three percent know the answer. Most don’t know how many customers they had last year.
Appointments are the most important key to success in a window coverings shop-at-home business. If you don’t know your number of appointments, you can’t know your closing rate. If you don’t know how many customers you sold, you can’t know the average size of your customer sale.
STEP 2: SET BENCHMARKS
You must know the three things that affect your sales. Frequent readers of my columns know the answer—it has nothing to do with “great service” or “quality products” or any of the other ideas and opinions I hear so often. Instead, it has to do with facts.
There are only three measurable facts to affect your sales:
1. Number of appointments
2. Closing ratio
3. Average size of customer sale.
All the rest is fluff and talk. Improve any of these three and you improve your sales. When you know these three things about your business for last year (or even the last 90 days) you can set them as benchmarks to improve for next year. In the next step, I will tell you the best one of the three to make the most money quickly.
STEP 3: SET GOALS TO IMPROVE
Only after you know your benchmarks can you set goals to improve. When you know your total sales and number of customers sold last year you can determine your average customer sale. (Count the transactions not the names; you may sell the same name two or three times during the year!)
The best way to improve your sales is to increase your average size of sale. That is more powerful than getting more appointments and more effective than improving closing ratio.
For details on why this is and to learn more on how to do it, we’ve developed Window Coverings University Class B-121 Professional Window Coverings Sales.
STEP 4: VISUALIZE YOUR PLAN
Your plan must always begin with the number of appointments you require. After you know the benchmarks of your appointments per month, you can improve it by a number you are willing to fight for. You can increase appointments by increasing awareness with potential target customers. You can use time (flyers, phone calls, special demonstrations and canvassing) or you can use money (advertising by media, direct mail, yellow pages and more), but you should not expect to increase appointments without first increasing awareness.
This is why your sales plan is so critical. When you decide the appointments you require, the next step is to develop a marketing plan to create awareness. If you want guidance on this point, send me an e-mail at email@example.com.
IS FEAR HOLDING YOU BACK?
So, after three years of reading about goal setting, why aren’t you constructing a sales plan and marketing plan? Chances are the old ghost of fear is holding you back. This week I was re-reading Napoleon Hill’s Think and Go Rich, the original self-improvement book written more than 70 years ago and still the most powerful of its type. The book fell open to a message I want to share with you at this time of the year as you plan your future. Napolean Hill understood the debilitating impact of fear and addresses it often, but never better than his chapter on the “Six Ghosts of Fear,” in which he asks, “Do you use these alibis?”
People who do not succeed have one distinguishing trait in common. They know all the reasons for failure and have what they believe to be air-tight alibis to explain their lack of self achievement.
Some of these alibis are clever, and a few of them are justifiable by facts. But alibis can not be used for money. The world wants to know only one thing—have you achieved success? A character analyst com piled a list of the most commonly used ali bis. As you read the list, examine yourself carefully, and determine how many of these alibis, if any, are your own property. Remember too that the philosophy present ed in this book makes every one of these alibis obsolete.
Following is an edited list of Hill’s alibis selected for being especially relevant to window coverings sales:
• If I had been given a chance . . .
• If I now had a chance . . .
• If I could meet “the right people” . . .
• If I had the talent some people have .
• If I dared assert myself . . .
• If I only had somebody to help me . . .
• If I could just get started . . .
• If I had the personality of some people . .
• If my talents were known . . .
• If I were sure of myself . . .
• If luck were not against me . . .
• If I only had a business of my own . . .
• If I had a good education . . .
• If I could get a job . . .
• If times were better . . .
Napoleon Hill goes on to explain that behind every one of these alibis is a fear that is holding you back. This year, put your fears behind you. Don’t hide behind an alibi. If you need help, let me know. One of our business counselors will be glad to help. Of course there is no charge to you. I want every person who reads this column to be successful in this wonderful window coverings business.
Have a happy, successful and prosperous New Year!
This article is based on Steven C. Bursten’s actual experience with sales and financial information working with hundreds of window coverings businesses. Whether you are a sole manager who aspires to higher sales, or you manage 50 window fashion decorators in a multi-million dollar business, this series will help you manage sales better and increase your profitability. Bursten is the retired founder of Decorating Den Interiors and author of a how-to book on new business start up, “Bootstrap Entrepreneur,” and is a leading expert in window coverings marketing, sales systems and sales management through his company, custEmers.com. Questions and comments welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (888) 333-8981