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Tips for Reference Managers on Setting and Achieving Goals for the New Year

Posted by Bill Lee on December 14, 2009 at 10:59 AM

What are you planning for next year? This is the month to get serious about setting the stage to build and improve your customer reference program. Effective goal setting is critical to hitting the ground running and making it a great year. Here are some tips for you.


1. What did I do well this past year? Where did our customer reference program do well?

2. What strengths emerged (both personal and the reference program) that we can build on? What do I need to get better at?

3. What can I STOP doing because it's a waste of time or resources? What can I DELEGATE to someone else (employee, vendor, another group) in order to focus on more critical goals?

4.  What are my goals for 2010?

Thinking through these, and participating in our community discussion, will sharpen and expand your thinking on these issues. You'll come away with some powerful goals.

The second step is making your goals for 2010 happen. Here are some tips on that:


How good are you good at setting, and achieving goals? Most people aren't. If you can get good at it, you'll be miles ahead of the game. Here are some tips to help you:

Goals should be:

1. Written down, and always visible.

This is the most important key to achieving goals: Writing them down, and keeping them in front of you are powerful motivators. Writing them down and filing them away, on the other hand, is a waste of time. Put them in your calendar (and make sure you look at them daily or at least several times a week). Or put them on your office wall, where they'll be constantly visible. These will be your rudder during the storms of busyness or competing demands.

2. Specific.

"We're going to improve our social media efforts" or "explore video testimonials" are not specific.  

3. Measurable.

How else will you know you've achieved your goal?  Measures are sometimes guess work, but don't shy away from this step.

4. Actionable

"We're going to make 100% of our customers referenceable this year" may be biting off a bit too much. Where do you start? For a firm that has only 15% of its customers in its reference program, what you've got is an aspiration, not a goal. See the next tip.

5. Realistic.

Stretch goals are great and thinking big, reaching for the stars-all of these are great. But then divide them into realistic steps. I can't step out of my door and go climb Mount Kilimanjaro. But I can pretty quickly find out how to get there, what it would cost, when I could go there, and what would be required to climb it. I can do that in the next couple of days. Then I can plan how to address these issues and figure out the best options, in another few days or a week at most. Then I can . . . you get the picture.

6. Time Based

"We're going to start developing YouTube style customer testimonials sometime in 2010" is not a goal. (not specific, not time based)  "We're going to create 3 YouTube style customer testimonials by January 31" is a goal.

Back to our aspiration of "building our reference pipeline in 2010." How might it be reformulated as a series of powerful goals? Perhaps something like this:

"We're going to meet with the following managers and executives--x, y, z, w--to identify who our most strategic customers are by January 31. We're then going to have meetings/ appointments with 10 such customers by February 28 in order to learn what it would take to develop a more powerful value proposition to attract them and other strategic customers into our reference program,. We'll then roll this out to all strategic customers by March 31. Our initial objective is to attract 50% of strategic customers into our reference program by April 30. We'll also do follow-up analysis my May 31 with those customers who won't participate in the program, and develop a gap analysis showing clearly why they aren't doing so."

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