I never thought of the late, great baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra as much of an expert on sales and sales management. Then I came across this memorable quote attributed to the legendary Yankee catcher and manager: “If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up somewhere else.”
Like a lot of powerful insights attributed to Berra, this one may or may not have actually passed his lips. (Another saying he’s credited with is “I really didn’t say everything I said.”) But even if Berra didn’t actually utter those wise words about the importance of knowing where you’re going, he should have. Why? Because this particular bit of counsel matches up quite nicely with something David Sandler, the founder of our company, used to say to salespeople and sales managers: “You can’t manage what you can’t control.”
What David Sandler was trying to say – and what I think Berra was trying to say – was this: If you’re personally responsible for getting to your chosen destination, and you are, you should assume full responsibility for taking all the right steps along the way.
I’m not a professional baseball player, so I won’t pretend to be able to break down what this idea means for everyone who’s hoping to have a good baseball season in 2018. But I think I can break down what assuming responsibility for taking the right steps looks like for salespeople this year. There are three steps to follow.
- Talk to your manager about your personal financial goal for 2018. If you haven’t already done this, now is a great time to do so. And if you have talked about this, now is a great time for the two of you to schedule the “How’s it going?” discussion. During that discussion...
- Talk to your manager about your cookbook. Your cookbook is a list of measurable behaviors and activities that you know you should do every day and every week in order to be successful. Again, if you haven’t gone over this with your manager already, do that. If you have, take a few minutes to re-evaluate, together, what the daily activity picture looks like in the real world. Use real numbers from your real working week. What really happened when you executed on these behaviors and activities? What do the numbers look like? Once you’ve done that, you can…
- Talk to your manager about whether or not you’re on track. Do your daily and weekly activities support your personal income goal for this year? If so, great! If not, now is the time to take action. What measurable activity needs to change, and by how much? When will that change happen? When will the two of you discuss this next?
It’s true of selling – and true of baseball – that there are any number of obstacles you’re going to encounter over the course of a long year. There will be setbacks and things that you won’t be able to control. In both selling and baseball, though, your behaviors are always completely under your control. If you take stock early enough in the year, and if you make the right adjustments while there’s still time, you’ll have a clear plan … and you’ll be able to look back on your “season” with pride. Just like Yogi did.