I was first introduced to goal setting in sales when I was an insurance agent with National Life of Vermont. The General Agent was Dave and his manager was Bob. The company subscribed to the “Al Grannum” school of 10-3-1 - see 10 people, 3 will be qualified buyers, 1 will buy. Based on that equation, the established goal was to write 100 lives. You do the math.
I never did write 100 lives but, based on the sales activity reporting I did every week, I should have. When I fell short of my activity goal, Bob’s intense coaching often included, “See more people!” Okay, Bob. Did I see more people? Nope, I just wrote down a bigger number to keep Bob off my backside. I failed in the life insurance business.
Well, not entirely. Towards the end of my career, I contracted with a sales trainer, Tom. Tom introduced me to an idea of a sales cookbook. Yes, the tenets for success was still based on a formula of sales steps and conversion ratios from one step to the next, but... there was ONE MAJOR difference – personal goal setting.
As I write this, maybe I should change the title to “Sales Managers – Why Isn’t Goal Achievement Easy?” Because in relationship to one another, the goal setting is easy compared to the goal accomplishing, but only if you take the easy way out when setting goals.
The easy way out – Take everyone’s number, increase it by the growth goal percentage of the company, and say to them, “Here is your goal for next year. Or, if you want to leverage our compensation model, you need to exceed this year’s goal by x.” Or, if you want to use incentive travel/excursions to motivate people to higher levels of performance, you raise the bar required for people to qualify for the “President’s Club” trip.
I have inquired about incentives and changes in overall production of a sales team. I’ve talked to sales VPs, I’ve talked to presidents of companies that agree to spend anywhere between $100,000 and $1,000,000 in incentive comps and trips, and finally, I’ve talked to people that sell people on incentive trips. No one – I repeat – no one has been able to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that any of this by itself improves top to bottom individual performance.
Why? *Locke, Shaw, Saari, and Latham (1981) concluded that the relationship between goal setting and performance is reliable, persistent and strong. Specific, difficult goals led to higher performance than did nonspecific, “do your best” goals in 90% of the studies they reviewed in which the goals could be assumed to have been accepted by the subjects. However, the strength of the relationship varies considerably from study to study. Despite care considerations around performance variability, a large amount of performance variability is unexplained by goal condition. Three potentially important contributors to performance variability are Situational Factors, Job Characteristics and Individual Differences.
Just for the sake of simplicity, lets’ assume that all of your sales people have the same situational factors (market conditions, competitive issues, compensation, and tenure). Let’s also assume the job is the same: Call suspects, meet with suspects, qualify them or disqualify them as prospects, gather appropriate information, present a solution, close. Given these two assumptions, that leaves us with one variable – Individual Differences. This is what I believe makes goal achievement so difficult and, by extension, makes goal setting difficult.
In our Sales Managed Environment (SME) program, one of the important functions of the sales manager is to motivate the sales team AND keep them motivated. Years ago, I heard Mark Victor Hansen say that motivation is an “inside/out” job. In other words, it isn’t something that you can do for someone; it’s something they need to build internally for themselves. You cannot motivate them; they can only motivate themselves to achieve those things that are only important to them. If you were to inquire as to what was important to your sales people, way down on the list would be company growth, increase share holder value or demonstrate internal organic growth so that, when the company goes IPO, they can receive a premium multiple of earnings.
If you asked them what was really important, you would probably hear the following: pay for an upcoming wedding, eliminate my debt, plan for retirement, pay college tuition, build an addition/new home, replace old car, give to the community, achieve job satisfaction, contribute to life, and maintain life balance. Unfortunately for you and them, they probably don’t have any of this in writing, don’t have a plan, don’t have a clue as to what they have to do to get any of this done. This is where you come in; this is where you can help them make their dreams come true.
Over the next 3 weeks, I will be working with two companies to facilitate a personal goal setting/business work plan workshop. This is one of the deliverables in our SME program. We will spend a minimum of 3 hours facilitating a discussion that is designed to help the participants dig into their own lives and identify what is important to them. What motivates them? What are the objectives/goals in their life that are non-negotiable? What is it that they are so committed to that nothing will stop them from doing the required activity/behavior that will eventually lead to the success they seek? Once this is completed, we then will help them translate that into a work plan - a formula for success at work so that they can enjoy the freedom of time and choice they are seeking.
What you can do to help them and to make your goal setting easier is to create an environment where goal setting and goal accomplishment is possible.
Personal Goal Setting Workshop
Pre-workshop preparation (Audio clip) What is your Dream?
Call me directly to discuss this topic – 513-226-3913 (mobile)