The 10/90 Rule Of Goal Setting

What You Did = 10%. What You Do Next = 90%.

Almost all of us are in the sales business. We have to sell our products to our customers, and we have to sell our ideas to our teammates and family members. So it pays to know what works when you have to “sell” something. So I invited Bill Lee, one of the best sales trainers in the country, to give all of us a few tips on the subject.

What Bill Lee Has To Say:

I guess by now many of you have seen the billboards and magazine ads that feature Tiger Woods. The particular ads I’m referring to are paid for by Accenture, a Consulting, Technology and Outsourcing company.

The tag line reads: We know what it takes to be a Tiger.

Of course, Tiger Woods has become a worldwide symbol of excellence. And there are “Tiger Woods” types of people in just about every industry and every profession. To be “a Tiger” one must WORK ON THEIR GAME so hard and be so COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE that he or she stands out from the crowd.

Tiger Woods certainly exemplifies this standard about as well as or perhaps better than any athlete ever has.

But what appealed to me about these ads — is the point they make — that what you’ve done in the past is only 10% of the value — as you strive toward a goal. What you do next — is 90% of the value.


And the reason is simple. Everyone has a setback once in a while. But top performers are as adept at recovering from setbacks, as they are at avoiding them in the first place.

Take Tiger Woods again … as an example. The advertisement shows Tiger standing knee-deep in the rough … getting ready to hit a golf ball that is buried so deeply in the rough that it’s completely out of sight. So even the best of performers don’t avoid all mishaps, but they know how to recover.

But when Tiger has a setback, he analyzes it and learns from it … hoping, of course, to avoid any similar setbacks in the future. And in that regard, the key to success in golf, or sales, or just about anything else in life, starts with analysis. When you make a mistake, when you fail to make a sale, invest some time in figuring out how to avoid making that same mistake again.

And then…


The more you practice the message you wish to deliver to your customers and prospective customers, the higher the odds are — that you’ll deliver it flawlessly. When you go into a customer’s or prospect’s office and make an important presentation without rehearsing, the odds also increase dramatically that you’ll not be as effective as you need to be to walk away with an order.

When Tiger practices, he doesn’t just hit tee shots with his driver off a perfectly smooth surface, perhaps the easiest shot in golf. Rather, he plays in the rain, hits thousands of balls out of deep, rough, sand traps and waste bunkers, just to name a few. Most of us who watch golf are amazed at how well Tiger recovers from what appears to be a disastrous lie. Few of us take the time to realize that he has practiced shots from similar disastrous lies hundreds of times.

So try this. Make a list of each aspect of the selling process that troubles you the most, you know, the customer objections you have difficulty overcoming, the gate keepers you can’t get past, or the prospects who refuse to give you the time of day.

Next, write out your response to each of these situations. Write out a script. And then practice it. Rehearse it. The more you rehearse the more effective and believable your presentation will come across to your customers and prospects.

Just remember the words from the Tiger Woods’ ad: What you do NEXT is 90% of what it takes to recover from disaster. What you did to get into trouble in the first place is only 10%.

All people … all salespeople … make mistakes. All people fail to get their way some of the time … and all salespeople lose some sales. But the TOP PERFORMERS and the top earners have learned how to recover from those setbacks. They figure out what got them in trouble, what they have to do NEXT time, write out their response, practice it, and do it. And if they can do it … so can you.

(Bill Lee is author of two books: “Gross Margin: 26 Factors Affecting Your Bottom Line” and “30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot” … as well as the DVD/CD album of “Master Selling Skills.” For more information, go to: