Goal Setting for Sales Leaders

Goal Setting for Sales Leaders

Virtually all sales leaders require their team members to set goals, but a surprising number of sales leaders fail to set goals for themselves believing that if their team members reach their goals then the sales leader has by default reached his or her goal.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact sales leaders have a much more difficult goal setting task than their team members, for as a team member must only set their own goals, the sales leader must set overall team goals, work with each individual seller to help them set their goals, and then the team leader must set goals for themselves beyond simply monitoring the team member’s goals.

Three Levels of Goals

1. Team Goals

As a sales leader, your first task is to think globally, that is, as a leader of the entire team, and, thus, what the team must accomplish and how they are going to accomplish it.  And although in many respects setting team goals is the easiest of the three areas of goal setting, it may be the most difficult area in which to form realistic, accomplishable goals that still stretch the team.

Team goal setting requires the sales leader to think in terms of the big picture, to imagine what can be done.  If not careful, this imagining can easily slip into unrealistic wishful thinking.

On a team level the sales leader must take into consideration the abilities of each individual team member, the condition of the marketplace, and the ability of the company to meet on a production and customer service level the demands of the anticipated sales.

Team goals must be specific and measurable with identified landmarks by which to measure progress.

2. Seller Goals

Many sales leaders will either assign the goal setting task to each individual seller or will set the goals and then deliver them to the seller not as goals but as demands.

Neither strategy works well.

If the seller is assigned the task of creating their own goals the result is often nothing more than a set of aggressive goals designed to mollify the sales leader, not to guide and drive the seller.  On the other hand, if the sales leader creates the goals without the input of the seller, the seller more than likely won’t buy into the goals but rather see them as unrealistic or overly aggressive demands.

The team leader should sit down with each member and work with them to create mutually agreed upon specific, measureable goals that realistically push and drive the seller and that fit into the overall framework of the team’s goals.

The seller should understand how his or her goals work within the team framework, and should have a solid grasp of why their goals are what they are and what they need to do to reach those goals.

Seller goals should go beyond numbers—obviously, specific selling goals are paramount to the team’s success, but there should also be educational and skill improvement goals.

3. Sales Leader Goals

Finally the sales leader should have their own set of goals.  Sales leader goals will not be production goals unless the sales leader is a managing producer.  Rather, the goals for the sales leader will be directed toward personal improvement and team member support.

Sales leader support goals would be things like spending one or two days a month with each seller, having a brief thirty to forty-five minute meeting with each seller weekly, holding a monthly training workshop for the team, or doing one-on-one training with individual sellers.

In a different vein, the sales leader also needs to spend some time with each seller getting to know them and what motivates them and makes them tick.  Being a leader is more than telling or demanding, it is understanding the needs and motivations of those you’re seeking to lead and that requires time be spent with each seller.

Equally important is the sales leader’s continued self-improvement.  Investing time–and very possibly money–in gaining additional sales knowledge and skills, as well as learning new and better strategies to teach and coach sales team members.

None of the above goals, whether team, individual seller, or personal sales leader goals, should be written in concrete, but should be reviewed on an ongoing basis and adjustments made as appropriate. Every goal should have established landmarks set to help monitor progress and when landmarks are missed there must be an accounting to determine why and what actions should be taken to either get the goal back on track or to adjust the goal to current reality.

If you haven’t set team, seller, and personal goals for the year, it isn’t too late.  Spend the necessary time over the next weeks and get the goals set on paper, with appropriate landmark, and monitored, for if you don’t have goals as guideposts, how do you know if you’re making the process you and your team should be making?

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