Setting Sales Goals: How to Improve Sales Performance

December 8, 2015
Setting Sales Goals: How to Improve Sales Performance

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time to review this past year’s sales goals and shift the focus to setting sales goals for the year ahead.

As a CEO, sales manager, or salesperson, reviewing sales goals can go one of two ways: it’s either going to incite joy, or cause a lot of grief.

I hope that your sales team experiences nothing but joy while setting sales goals during sales review season.

With both scenarios in mind, I’d like to offer some new ways to think about setting sales goals. So often we think about sales “goals” in terms of numbers:

  • How many new accounts were won
  • How much money was made
  • How many new leads were added to the pipeline
  • How many client visits were made
  • How many presentations were given
  • And so on…

But what about non-financial goals? How can we improve sales performance by setting sales goals that aren’t tangible on a pie chart or bar graph?

Personal Bests vs. KPIs

I am a huge Jill Konrath fan. One of my favorite Jill-isms is in an article she wrote on How to Set Achievable Goals for Your Sales Team. In the article she writes that, “Creating personal bests–or PBs–will increase your sales more than the conventional metrics,” and uses her daughter’s experience on a swim team to correlate.

As a former motorcycle racer, this concept really hit home with me. When I first started riding motorcycles on the racetrack I learned very quickly that racing isn’t just about top speed, it’s all the little things you do that make you fast. It’s about knowing when and where to brake and accelerate; it’s about understanding your machine and using your body properly.

Now, how do you measure all these seemingly un-measurable tasks? By tracking lap times! That is, you keep a record of your Personal Bests (PBs). If your PB at a particular track is a 1.26 and your goal is to get to a 1.23, you've got to figure out where you can improve to shave off 3 seconds. As an example, if you were to focus on braking later, moving your braking marker back in every single corner would help you reach a new goal.

In sales, there are a lot of little things that we do that contribute to our overall goals. Jill shares some ideas on sales-related PBs such as tracking what percentage of calls/contacts turn into initial conversations, what percentage of initial meetings have an immediate follow-up scheduled, how long it takes to close a deal, and a few others. I’d like to offer some ideas to setting sales goals as well.

Setting Sales Goals: 3 Ways to Improve Sales Performance

1. Keep a Log: marketing is all about metrics. Marketing experts compile data, apply it, then assess the metrics before starting the process all over again. Sales works the same way, but numbers don’t tell the whole story. So, what’s the solution to consistent sales success? Why, having and using a Sales PlayBook, of course!

A Sales PlayBook is where you house the successes (see: success stories) and failures of your team to learn, grow, and develop. It is also the perfect place for personal development, and to keep track of your own PBs.

2. Find Blockages: blood clots become dangerous when they block blood flow through an artery or vein. Have you ever stopped to think about potential clots or blockages in your sales process? Perhaps your team is excellent at prospecting, but struggles to close deals. Or maybe you have a team with great relationship-building skills, but their lack of organization prevents any sort of momentum with potential clients.

3. Focus on “focus:” that’s right! It’s easy to get distracted by overarching goals or daily distractions. Eliminate potential problems by enforcing a strict time management policy this year—and be sure to stick to it! I also recommend setting “focus” goals throughout the year, allowing enough time to sincerely work on your goals. Here are some focus ideas for each quarter:

  • 1st Quarter: focus on your process.

What does your process look like now? Is it ideal? What would you change about it?

Jeff Haden shared a short video on about The Process for Achieving Any Intimidating Goal. He says, “we all have goals, and most of us have goals that we haven’t achieved.” Jeff believes that, “the biggest reason for that, I think, is that we stop at the goal-setting piece, and we don’t think about the foundation of what will get us to our goals.”

Now is the time to step back, take a look at your process, and work to develop it.

  • 2nd Quarter: focus on one bad habit, and change it.

There are undoubtedly multiple things you’d like to fix or change at this very minute. Start small by focusing on one bad habit and set out to change it. Are you perpetually late? Ready to quit smoking? Want to shed a few pounds? Say “um” too much? Pick one and “git-r-done.”

  • 3rd Quarter: focus on the problem, not the solution.

It’s been said many a time at CFS, and I’ll say it again: people care about problems.

This quarter, focus on solving problems—for your clients, for your prospects, for your co-workers, for your friends.

“When it comes down to it, people are interested in their own problems, not your solutions,” Hampus Jakobsson shares in an Entrepreneur article on sales improvement. “If you detail your product’s five most impressive features, the customer will fade in and out of focus waiting for you to finish. However, ask about customers' problems and they will be happy to tell you all about their issues. This will make them feel more invested in your solution and provide clues as to how you should be positioning your wares. Maybe it’s your ninth and tenth most impressive features that will actually benefit them.”

  • 4th Quarter: focus on what you could’ve done better.

If you don’t fail, you’ll never learn. Now is the perfect time to reflect on the progress of last year and focus on what you could’ve done better. Did you fail to manage your time effectively? Did you lose more sales than you should have? Is there something you wish you could change about your sales process? Write it down and make a plan to change it!

As you move forward and begin setting sales goals for the New Year, I wish you the best of luck. I hope the planning tips in this post help you improve sales performance and that you truly have the best year yet!

Ready to get a head start on 2016? Check out our free resource on Time Management to get your year started on the right foot!

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