Sales Advice

Mistakes When Defining Sales Goals

Setting sales goals for a salesforce ought to be simple, but it's harder than it looks. Here are some common mistakes you'll want to avoid.

Sales goals. Your company won't get very far without them.

But getting them down on paper can feel like more hassle than it's worth - unless you know how to avoid some of the most common sales goal mistakes.

Balance is the key to a successful sales goal strategy. On the one hand, your goals should challenge your sales force to take its game to the next level. But at the same time, your goals have to be grounded in the real world. If they are too aggressive, they will just set your team up for failure.

Mistake #1: Recycling

If setting sales goals doesn't appeal to you, the path of least resistance is to simply use the same goals and strategy as last year. The problem is that last year's goals were relevant last year and may not be capable of meeting your company's current needs this year. Recycling is even more problematic if you didn't reach your goals last year and refuse to readjust your expectations.

Mistake #2: Wishful Thinking

You hope your company hits $1 million in sales this year . . . We get it. But if last year's sales didn't break $100,000, a $1 million sales goals is little more than a pipe dream. Overreaching not only destroys your employee's morale. It also negates the entire purpose of goal-setting because it wasn't realistic in the first place.

Mistake #3: Secrecy

Are you the only person in the company who knows about your sales goals? You would be surprised how many business owners refuse to advertise their sales goals within the business. Some hesitate to even share their goals with the sales team itself. If you aren't comfortable shouting your sales goals from the mountaintop, it's either because the goals aren't realistic or you are afraid of being viewed as a risk-taker.

Mistake #4: Planning Through a Telescope

Setting long-range sales goals is an attractive option for a variety of reasons. It seems to offer a window into the extended future and it gives your sales team more time to hit its goals. So then why shouldn't you set sales goals beyond one year? Because it doesn't work. Telescoping your sales goals beyond a year neglects the fast-paced nature of today's business environment. It also fails to create the sense of urgency that sales teams thrive on. Instead, focus on building momentum toward an achievable, yet challenging, one year timeframe.

Mistake #5: Rigidity

Let's say your one-year sales goal is $500,000. Then from out of nowhere, you land several big accounts totaling $300,000 in the first quarter alone. Should you keep the initial sales goal and let the sales team coast all the way to December? No way! Your sales goals should always be flexible enough to accommodate changes as they arise and should be reassessed on a quarterly basis. But keep in mind that flexibility cuts both ways. For example, if your initial sales goal assumed you'd land a large account in the first quarter and that doesn't happen, you'll need to adjust your annual goal downward or risk setting the business up for failure.

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