'Four Quarters of Fun' — and increased sales

"If you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build end up building us." — Business philosopher Jim Rohm

To get the New Year started right, how about a little game that will last all year, teach discipline and instill good selling habits, increase sales and make everybody more money.

Here's how "Four Quarters of Fun" works:

First Quarter. Starting the first of the year, everyone has a chance to set individual and team sales goals, week by week and month by month for the first three months of the year.

The concept of goal setting is agreed on in advance. For the first quarter, the goal may be to raise sales 10% above sales in the first quarter of last year. If you raised ad rates 4% this year, that means sales must be increased another 6% to reach this year's first quarter goal.

That will help set the team goal. Lets say January through March sales last year were $200,000. A 10% increase will be $200,000 x 10% = $20,000 more sales revenue. That makes the January-March goal for this year $220,000.

Individual goals will be a portion of that overall team goal. These are set by each individual sales person. But in all, everyone must agree that the goals will total $220,000.

This is not a quota. A quota is an arbitrary sales target set by management. A goal is a predetermined target both management and the sales force agree can be achieved.

Lets say your star sales person generated $65,000 in sales in the first quarter last year. That's an average $5,000 a week in sales x 13 weeks. Her goal for the first quarter of 2005 might be to increase weekly sales 10% to $5,500. Her goal for the 13 weeks in the first quarter will then be $65,000 x 10% = $6,500 in increased sales or total sales of $71,500.

The new rookie on the staff has no track record to compare. But if $1,500 a week seems to be an achievable goal for her, $1,500 x 13 weeks = $19,500.

Lets say you have four sales people. If the star brings in $71,500 and the rookie brings in $19,500, that's $91,000. That means the other two sales people must bring in the remaining $129,000 needed to make the goal. If they are relatively equal in experience, account lists and past sales, each of them must bring in $64,500 as their contribution to the goal.

Now here's the good part. Of that additional $20,000 they generated in sales, we are going to give them a bonus — on top of their commissions — of 5%. That's $1,000 that can be spread equally among the four sales people for a $250 bonus each.

To qualify, they must reach the $220,000 team goal and each sales person must reach his or her individual goal. If the team exceeds the goal but one individual falls short, only the three who made their individual goals will receive a $250 bonus. The one who fell short has an even stronger motivate to reach goal in the next quarter.

Instead of an outright cash payment, you might think about awarding gift certificates from some of your better advertisers. That's a great way to show support for your advertisers.

If your chamber of commerce sells gift certificates for its member businesses, that's another good way to show your support for the chamber and your business community.

The purpose of the first quarter game is to instill good planning and goal setting habits and the discipline that results from that. As Jim Rohm says, when you go to work on your goals and your plan, your goals and your plan go to work on you.

Second quarter. Now you may add more ways to win a bonus. To strengthen planning and follow-up habits, we might add qualification and prospect follow-up calls as goals.

We continue to set dollar goals based on anticipating a 10% increase in sales over the second quarter last year. But we add some other numbers to our game.

For instance, we might set a goal to gain one new 52-week account a month.
If experience shows that it takes an average eight calls to find a qualified prospect and eight prospect interviews to find a long-term customer, then it will take 64 qualification calls to sign up a customer. With an average 22 selling days in a month, that means each of your sales people must make three phone calls to suspects a day. They will eliminate 56 of the 64 suspects and call on only the eight who are likely prospects.

If each sales person decides they will land at least one 52-week sales agreement a month, that's 64 suspects they must contact a month and interview at least two prospects a week in addition to taking care of their current accounts. You will need to set up a point system or some other way to track calls and reward performance.

Third quarter. The more long-term contracts we win, the more time we can spend helping accounts plan effective campaigns and less time qualifying prospects. We also can concentrate on selling more advertising opportunities to established accounts.

So this quarter lets work on landing 13-, 26- and 52-week agreements. You might pay an outright bonus of, say, 1% of the anticipated gross from each agreement. Or you might play it safer and pay only on cash collected in the first month. That way, you can require new accounts to pay the first month's billing at the time they sign the agreement.

Fourth quarter. Now you can put a bonus on such hard-to-control goals as winning press association honors or other awards. You might match whatever cash the press association awards for first place. If second and third place don't carry a cash award, you can decide if you want to pay a small cash bonus or award a gift certificate for winning these prizes.

You also can give bonuses for exceeding monthly goals by 5% and double it for all who exceed their goals by 10%. Naturally, you will make sure the goals are set high enough to make your sales staff stretch to achieve them.

Some companies also award bonuses for attending networking events, serving as an officer in a business or civic club, giving a speech to a business or industry group or conducting seminars for prospects and customers. All of that is up to you.

It's important to make "Four Quarters of Fun" really fun. Celebrate all goal attainments. Bring the entire staff in and make a big deal of it.

Pick up a cake from the local bakery that's inscribed "Congratulations __________". And present the gift certificate or bonus check to the individuals so honored in front of everyone.

You might consider giving copies of Jerry Bellune's new book on advertising sales, "How to Peel a Green Banana: Seven Strategies of Advertising Super Stars", as a bonus. The book is available in CD or 3-ring binder formats. You can order by Visa or MC credit cards at 803-359-7633. You can subscribe to Jerry's FREE e-letter “Power Up for Success” at his web site www.JerryBellune.com

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