“There’s no advantage to exceeding my budget. They’re just going to ask for even more next year!” Ever hear that? We’ve heard it in dozens of organizations. It’s a shame, and it costs companies profits. In reality, most sales leaders and their teams work extremely hard to achieve aggressive goals they are given. Great sales leaders work hard to assure their teams surpass targets they actually helped to develop.
We’ve found there are three fundamental approaches to sales objectives:
- No sales targets at all. Every sales person just does their best
- Sales targets established by superiors based upon criteria like past performance and anticipated growth
- Selling goals developed “from the ground up” by sales people with management negotiation and approval of the final numbers.
‘Managing in all Directions’ is More Important:
While we prefer the “ground up” approach for several reasons, it doesn’t actually matter which system a company uses. More important is how effectively a sales leader manages in all directions…. down, up and all around. Ability to manage — equally well — expectations of senior management, peers, and subordinates is far more critical to consistent success than any single method of setting sales goals. Such a skill is seldom evident the first day of a new assignment, but we find the most successful sales leaders develop relationships with precisely such an outcome in mind.
As with any other goal, achieving it requires a strategy, constant awareness of progress, and dedicated execution of a well-constructed plan. It’s ideal to work towards managing in all directions equally well right from the start, but we’ve seen people modify their outlook and behavior at various stages in their career. It’s possible to change mindset, habits, and perceptions at any time with a strong will to succeed. Why is managing in all directions so crucial?
It’s Important to Create and Maintain Achievable Goals for the Team:
There are few challenges more demoralizing to a team and more deflating for a sales leader than performance objectives set unrealistically high. Demanding — and perhaps unachievable — goals usually result when communication, trust, and mutual respect break down. We’ve never seen a manager get everything he or she wants from their people, their peers or the people they report to.
Truly successful sales leaders, though, develop relationships with their entire circle of colleagues that help them negotiate performance goals that are realistic, achievable and rewarding. It starts with establishing trust in every interaction. Effective and frequent communication in all directions maintains the relationship. And interactions thrive when sales leaders develop and use empathy as a fundamental pillar of their negotiating style.
Longer-Term View of Achievements Better than Monthly or Quarterly Progress alone:
We’ve all heard stories about automobile dealership sales managers who fire the lowest performing salesperson each month or the infamous Jack Welch dictate that the bottom 10% of performers each year should be put out to pasture. “It forces people to focus on performance,” they like to say. It also causes unnecessary angst in the workplace, fails to recognize extenuating circumstances and encourages some high performers to leave for a more secure environment.
We find most successful sales leaders develop an ability to establish, monitor and communicate progress towards goals that measures progress towards longer-term, sustainable targets that determine success for a company many years into the future. Their intention is to use today’s short-term focus as building blocks towards a grand dream of success such as market leadership, geographic expansion or market share dominance.
Numbers Only Tell Part of a Story. Great Leaders Look Beyond Numbers to Identify True Progress and Development:
When management focuses solely on short-term goals and objectives, selling can become a chore. Typically, chores are completed with little enthusiasm – even if completed well. Great sales leaders want their team focused on a mission, not a chore! Sales teams who understand a higher purpose for achieving their numbers and who share a vision of the desired outcomes always perform better. Their enthusiasm usually becomes contagious. Customers and suppliers often buy-in as well to compound success!
Great Sales Leaders Create a Team Culture Where Everyone Wants to Succeed:
Every business has a culture – characteristics that define how its people work and what they think is important. Culture is usually one of the first things customers think about when asked for an opinion about a company. “They care about their clients,” “They’re focused only on profit,” “Employees aren’t interested,” and “Orders are right every time,” are all possible comments customers might make when asked. They’re all answers that describe components of a company’s culture. And such answers are usually indicative of the way a company makes and monitors its goals and objectives.
Great sales leaders understand that responsibility for an outstanding company culture starts with them. They know a sales team can never achieve optimum results unless an entire organization is united in purpose and vision. The best sales leaders use their skills with superiors, peers, and subordinates to find, nurture and continuously improve their company’s culture. They know their very success depends on it!
If you already follow NEEDS Selling Solutions pages on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NEEDSSellingSolutions/) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/1816005/) you’ll automatically continue to receive each new blog article on your newsfeed as published. If you aren’t yet following us, now is a good time to click on one to start!
It’s also a perfect time to let friends and colleagues know about this exciting new series. Share or forward this message to people who want to continue developing their sales teams for maximum success. If you’d like to visit some other articles already in our collection of articles to help business grow, visit our website blog library at http://www.needssellingsolutions.com/needs-selling-solutions-news/