Sales Consulting

Setting Sales Goals: Wisdom from Michael Scott

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Many of us use this time each year to reflect on our sales goals for the next 12 months. These objectives can be both personal resolutions and professional objectives mandated by others.

Despite the ritual of annual goal setting, failure rates are notoriously high. One source claims 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February! Achievement of MBOs found in many sales leader plans is equally depressing. In too many cases, we find leaders falling short of all but the simplest targets. Or worse, we see excessive “year-end gymnastics” used to justify their achievement.   

It’s hard to deny that good outcomes flow from setting sales goals. Don’t miss this time of the year to lock in your sales goals. Sales leaders need to clearly define what they want from their teams. Front-line managers and sales reps need map the broader objectives into their individual plans. 

It’s easy to get caught up in overly vague concepts and big picture goals. The key is determining the critical steps needed to achieve results.

To help us master the art and science of setting sales goals, let’s turn to an icon of sales leadership, Michael Scott.

1. Early momentum is key. Brain science supports the importance of nailing small goals early. Hit the ground running this year. Don’t wait until Q2 to start taking your goals seriously. Make sure everyone involved in achieving the goal is aware of what’s expected of them early in the year.

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2. Don’t forget the how. Define the actions and behaviors needed to hit the sales goals. Knowing the overall revenue or profit target isn’t enough. Sales leadership must break down the specifics of how they will accomplish the goal. Too many times people set the what of the goal, but forget to specify the how.

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3. Don't go it alone. This is especially true when it comes to teaming between marketing and sales. Messaging and content is a critical weapon in the sales rep’s arsenal. Yet, too many times marketing-generated content is greatly mismatched to the needs of sales. Collaborate early in the year to align sales goals with those of marketing. Agree on what works, what doesn’t, and what your reps need to be more successful.

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4. Build the sales enablement plan to hit your goals. We know the sales environment will be even more challenging in 2018. Our research finds that buying journeys will get more complex and decision making more muddled. This is the year to deploy the sales enablement program your team needs to succeed. For enablement pioneers, now is the time to reevaluate the program and objectively measure its impact.

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5. Embrace the need for adaptability. The highest-performing sales organizations use an adaptive approach to opportunity management. Many others are setting a New Year’s goal to implement a more adaptive sales methodology. This model builds on what top reps already know: one-size-doesn’t-fit all. Far from just ‘winging it’, adaptive opportunity management is a structured and practical way to reach this year’s target.


6. KISS – Keep it simple stupid. Your time setting sales goals shouldn’t be convoluted. The more complex, the blurrier they get. Also, don’t fall into the trap of spreading accountability across too many different people. Setting sales goals with bite-sized actions will keep you and your team on track throughout the year.

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7. Be positive. Modern selling has never been harder. But have confidence in your plans for this year. If you don’t believe you’ll achieve the goals you’ve set, then you never will.

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If you need help setting sales goals and determining what goals are appropriate for your sales organization, or if we can help you achieve your goal, contact us.  We’re happy to share our best practice goals for sales enablement and sales leadership we’re seeing across many industries.

Happy New Year from The Brevet Group!

About The Author

Author photo Elaina focuses on enabling sales teams through analyzing best practices. Her consulting work has touched a variety of industries in healthcare, technology, financial services, media, and professional services.

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