Working With Your Sales Team to Set Effective Goals for 2017

Blog - VCF (3)-1.pngYes, it’s that time of year again. Reflecting on 2016 and planning for 2017. For any business leader setting effective new revenue goals for the year ahead can feel like playing a game of darts with a blindfold on unless you have good structure around your goal setting efforts.

The following are some helpful practices that can enable your sales team to take ownership of their personal goals, while aggregating the combined effort into a division or company wide sales forecast.

Empowering your sales team: Typically, there are three types of goal setters. There are those who set a target low knowing they will exceed it and thus feel good that they exceeded their target. There are those who set a goal and hit it on the nose every time. Lastly, there are those who set a high and lofty goal that even though they rarely reach it, they come close and thus have very productive results. None are good or bad in and of themselves. It’s the nature of the individual that plays a significant role here. Knowing your team and how they function is important. A seasoned sales professional will be able to tell you which of the three they have been in the past. What is important to note is that if you are handing out sales goals without the input of your sales professional they can often become disgruntled or feel overburdened. If you can turn the tables and have them work with you to produce a sales goal, you may be surprised at what you get in return when they have been empowered.

Setting a range of targets: Knowing there are different ways individuals establish goals, it’s helpful to actually set 3 goals for every year. The first goal to set is the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), what Jim Collins speaks of in his book Built to Last. As a sales professional, it’s always exciting to think about having a top level year in production. It’s good to dream big and reach for the stars. In setting a BHAG it’s important to realize that this is a stretch goal, one in which you acknowledge that it will take a herculean effort to achieve. It’s exciting and it’s motivating to dream big. However, if you stop there and get off to a difficult first quarter, assuming this were your only goal for the year, one tends to give up altogether on their year and leadership may question their ability to perform.  

The second goal you want to set is what a good solid year would look like. This is a goal that makes leadership very happy and would leave the sales professional feeling like they are one of the organizations top quartile performers. This likely results in a good bonus or commission that encourages the sales professional to put in a good effort the following year.

The third goal you want to set is the satisfactory goal. This is a goal that meets standards and keeps you on the team for next year. It’s not thrilling but it should be a realistic and achievable goal. It’s important from a motivational stand point to hit a goal and to know that you still contributed to the organization in a good way.  

Aggregate the data and put it in writing: For the sales leaders out there, putting your name to a team target is always a difficult commitment to make. It seems like there is so much out of your control and taking responsibility for an entire team of sales professionals can seem a bit daunting. The reality is that you have more control in enabling your team to not only set realistic goals, but to exceed them! You can equip them to set clear, believable, and achievable goals. You can inspire them to see that their hopes can become an action plan of achievement. As it has often been shared, we don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan. By taking the time to think it through, set quality goals, plan out the effort it will take to accomplish it, and monitor the effort as you go, you will truly have an amazing year ahead.