Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Build a Successful Sales Plan For 2014

setting sales goals

Many of my clients and prospects tell me that the 4th quarter is when they take time to discuss sales plans (goals) and business plans with their sales people. The purpose obviously is to get everyone on the same page with expectations of performance for the coming year.  In my experience in working with approaches to this project, I find the following:

  • The process is either too complicated or too simple.
  • The process isn't really a process; it's the presenting of a pre-determined sales goal for each producer.
  • It really isn't a business planning process, but rather a focus on a financial projection of anticipated new business cash flow and anticipated loss of revenues.
  • Despite intentions, it is the only time during the year that a discussion will take place regarding the business plan.
  • Once the process is completed, no one revisits the plan.
  • There is a non-existent or poor plan of inspection to make sure the key elements of the plan are being executed (assuming there is a strategic plan to support the numbers).There is rarely a discussion about what happens if:
    • The plan isn't being executed.
    • There is failure to hit certain benchmarks throughout the year that indicate success in hitting the goals.
  • The goals may be set, but they are negotiable.  Usually nothing happens when the producer is failing to do what needs to be done to hit the goal.
  • At the end of the year, if producers are between 85% to 100% of their agreed-to goals, they will probably avoid any corrective actions and keep their jobs. This renders the whole idea of establishing goals essentially useless.
  • Most sales people really are not motivated by the process... or the goals.
  • Team goals are sometimes eventually met, but only because a few met or exceeded the goals (80/20 rule).

I just shared with you some of my experiences and observations.  Let me share with you what I know is the key to this.  If you are a client, you have heard me say this before:

You are perfectly designed for the results you are getting today!

I mention this to prompt you to begin thinking about the results you are getting from your current business planning and goal setting process.  If you take a look at individual as well as collective results, are you happy with the outcome?  Is the outcome as good as it could be if everyone hit the goal?  Is everyone is hitting the goal? If so (now this may appear to be contradictory), then maybe their goals are too low?  If too many people are not hitting their goals, then maybe there is something wrong with either the process or the people.  Regardless of the cause - if your team is not a high performing sales team that consistently outperforms the previous year, then something is wrong!

Here are 10 concepts that will help you improve your individual and collective goal results:

  1. "Motivation is an inside-out job" (Mark Victor Hansen, 1990, at the Cincinnati Association of Life Underwriters).
  2. Your sales people, unless they own shares, don't care about reaching goals that help drive share-holder value.
  3. Your sales people have individual dreams, aspirations, financial requirements that they do care about and want to achieve.
  4. If you have the right people, their own drive for success will always exceed any goal/quest you present to them.
  5. People want to have extraordinary lives - but they need the chance to define what extraordinary is!
  6. People have to know what it means to be successful AND they need to know, in advance, what it means to fail.
  7. If you raise the bar, the right people will work to clear the bar.
  8. If you give people minimum standards for performance, 80% of the time they will perform to the minimum standard rather than to the goal.
  9. If you take the time to have personal goal discussions with your people, then take the time to:
    1. Have supporting activity discussions
    2. Schedule time to revisit the plans - regularly
    3. Find out to what level they will manage themselves
    4. Get permission to coach them the MOMENT you see they are failing
    5. Set the bar for extraordinary and clearly discuss that anything short of the agreed-to objective is FAILING
    6. Discuss the disciplined approach you will take to help them succeed
  10. Catch them early.  At least 80% of your sales people, maybe even all of them, at some time in the year, will begin to fail in executing the plan. Catch them early, address it, agree to a plan of action, and then take action.

It is a rare occasion that I directly plug a service we provide. However, this is so important that I want to give you the opportunity to get help with this critical sales management function.  For more information on conducting offsite goal setting and business plan development sessions, contact Jeni Wehrmeyer directly at 513-791-3458.  Over the last 20 years, we have done this kind of work for our clients, but have never offered it as a stand-alone program - you won't find it in our website.  So, call the number above or email Jeni now at and she can discuss with you how we can help. 


Tags: goal setting, managing, improving sales results, motivation