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Don’t Confuse Effort With Results – Part 2 – Methods

In my last post I discussed goal setting which is the first step on the path to success. I mentioned that goals have to be measurable and have a time table associated with them. This week I am going to discuss the reason behind the time table requirement.

Once you know what your project needs to achieve you have to figure out how to get there. Believe it or not there are an infinite number of paths that will take you to the same end result. The real question is how long will it take and how much will it cost.

The first step to determining your methodology involves realizing your time constraints. I’m sure everyone has heard the expression “fast, cheap, good pick two”. For the most part this is very true and it is something you always want to keep in mind when deciding on your project methodology. Imagine you want to take a trip. The first thing you do is decide where you want to go. I have always wanted to go to Alaska so lets go with that. So what would you normally do next? Most people will say, book my tickets, or find a hotel. If that is the case you missed a few steps. Before you can book a hotel room you have to know when you are going to get there and how long you are going to stay. I have one week of vacation time, and I’m going to take it in late July. See that is pretty easy, but guess what just happened? I just helped define how I was going to get there. In case you missed it here is how it happened. I live in Southeastern Virginia and there are a number of ways I can get to Alaska. I could drive, take an airplane, or take a cruise but when I decided I only had a week of vacation time driving and taking a cruise went right out the window.

The next step is to determine your financial constraints. What is the budget for this project? What products, software, or services will need to be purchased for the successful completion of the project. If you don’t think about these things now you will be kicking yourself later. Lets go back to our vacation example. My vacation savings are currently at $3000.00 and I need to plan for airfare, hotel accommodations, and food at the very least. Round trip tickets are going to cost me $809 for coach. I looked at first class but that comes in at $2202 so that is out of the question. Did you catch that, my financial constraints helped further define my methodology.

At this point I have to address the elephant in the room. What happens if I can’t make the numbers work? If you can’t make the number work in the planning stage your goal is unreasonable. Yesterday I read a post on Linkedin asking if it would be reasonable to expect an inside sales rep to make 300 cold calls in an 8 hour day with a 30 minute lunch. It sounded very high to me so I did the math. A person would have to dial a new call every 1.5 minutes. I tested out how long it took me to dial my home number and get to the third ring, about 20 seconds. That would leave about 70 seconds for introductions, the pitch, and setting an appointment. That doesn’t even consider how long it will take to make notes for the call, update the CRM, and get the next record. This is obviously an unreasonable goal.

If we determine our goal is unreasonable, the next step is to determine why. In our previous example the goal was to make 300 calls in 7.5 hours. The method was to use one inside sales rep. We have three choices; we can change our desired result, change our time table, or change our method. If we lower the desired result of 300 calls to around 100 calls we are extending the call time to 4.5 minutes which is much more achievable. If instead we extend the time table to 12 hours we extend the call time to 2.4 minutes which is at least in the realm of possibility. Finally we could change the method by adding more salespeople.

Again we have to go back to looking at time constraints and financial constraints. If time is our primary constraint, 300 calls per day must be made, then our best bet would be to adjust our method and hire more salespeople. If money is our primary constraint, we can only pay 1 salesperson, then we should probably modify the number of calls we are expecting. If we are constrained by time and money, 300 calls per day must be made and we can only pay 1 salesperson, then we need to get creative and reevaluate everything. Revisit the reasoning behind the desired result and the time table. In the end something has to give. You cannot set a goal that is unreasonable and just expect success, doing so will just doom you to failure.

Hopefully this has been helpful. Check back soon, the next post will be about measuring your progress.

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Justin Dalton

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