Smart Goals Upgrade

I was just reminded of a post I wrote long ago on Sales Year Resolutions. In the intervening two and a half years, one related experience I had was when running a solution selling 101 day for a twelve-plus strong, £40m salesteam.

I suggested each person write down their over-arching objective for a particular live deal that they’d then workshop throughout the day. This is standard fare. Naturally, after their five minutes of think time, many struggled to get beyond a “sell x to company y” answer. Which is of course the point. So I began to run through how such statements of intent should be created.

Then something strange happened. A couple of minutes in, one or two started to mention the word ‘smart’. The boss then chimed in. They’d only recently had a training session in how to set and follow objectives. He wasn’t happy. Here was proof that they’d already forgotten all about it.

How familiar a story is this throughout the Sales world?

Such “smart” objectives methodology is well known. The latest UK Management Today magazine had a small column challenging their usefulness. A deliberate piece of ‘contrarianism’ for sure from author Alistair Dryburgh, I nonetheless wondered if this outlook carried any lessons for Sales.

My first reaction was one of frustration. Smart was bashed, but no betterment was advanced. If you’re going to knock something, then surely it’s best to provide some kind of alternative? (Strange, especially if your everyday blogging can do just that). Anyway, a couple of good pointers can be gleaned.

When talking ‘specifics’, I do like the idea that you should somehow set free the shackles. Dream big. How do you aim to inspire your prospect?

I also applaud the quasi-Faustian element of “the worst thing about achievable objectives is that once we meet them, we stop trying“. Perhaps it is then worthwhile to introduce a sense of what can happen alongside or next to the main event. In others words, how could you grow and evolve from here?

These pair made me realise that you could easily suggest Smart version 1.1. Where you add the features of Inspiration and Evolution. Or perhaps even;


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