Setting Annual Sales Goals are a Waste of Time II—Sales Goals Strike Back
Last month's "Be Bold" column grabbed quite a bit of attention. In fact, I've received the most feedback from readers from this hot topic since my "A Touch Is Still A Touch" article from a few years ago. In that column, a "Basic Truth of a Million Dollar Producer" was revealed, and that truth is—say it with me—it takes 13 touches to turn a prospect into a client. If you'd like a copy of that illuminating article, email or message me and I'll get it to you. But I also stated back then that there are no absolutes and no real rules. It may take eight superb touches to turn a prospect into a client—or it may take 15. Or never.
The same holds true for setting sales goals as a waste of time. For some people, it's not a waste of time. It's all about perceptions, really—perceptions that empower and motivate you—and about being in control. Let's look at some of the feedback that sales goals article generated.First, from Kirby Hasseman, author of the excellent end-user-friendly book "Delivering Marketing Joy"
"Rick, I always love your insight. I will play Devil's advocate here. Maybe the issue is not that the team is setting goals, but that they are setting goals that don't inspire them. If you set goals that are just a bit higher, then that makes it a yawner. In my experience, bigger (crazy) goals help you to look at thing differently and do different (and bolder) things. If you are not willing to do something to change, then you won't. So I think maybe we need bolder, different and memorable goals if we want to change! What say you?"
I say...I completely agree, Kirbster. And that's not a reversal of my previous opinion—because there are no absolutes. Inspirational goals based on change can juice up your attitude and be very empowering. And, for the right kind of person, this type of goal will change up their results and get them to that next level we keep hearing about. Kirby, you keep right on deviling it up. And Be-Boldsters, check out Kirby's book on Amazon and order two—one for you and one for your top client!
Next, from a chat room for distributors, where one group member of "Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable" copied and pasted the article for discussion:
"I think he makes a lot of sense in many ways. When you don't hit your goal, it can be depressing. Sales goals can also get you focused on the wrong thing. Now your sale becomes your focus rather than your client. You start compromising everything to close the deal just to get your numbers up."
I love it when people agree with me! Focus on the client, not the dollar amount. And again below from the same chat room discussion:
"The way this guy thinks makes a lot of sense...although, I also know that it is important to have written goals, right? What do y'all think?"
I don't know who "y'all" is, but others weighed in, mainly in agreement with the 'shocking' point of view I presented, but others disagreed. Another, Steve Gerson, weighed in thusly:
"Having been in the premium, promotional item business for 25 years I always recall the new 'marketing manger' setting annual sales goals, and I always replied, our projects are not building upon pre-existing sales of the same items, but on new orders of completely new items, and it is impossible to predict what clients will do each year. You can however set goals for new client acquisition, which—if successful—could really grow a business. I agree that setting unrealistic or impossible sales objectives is really counter-productive. What I do approve of is doing product research, like semi-annual trips to the Canton Fair to come back with photos and new ideas to inspire clients. The key is to search for items that relate directly to the usage of clients' products, such as corollary items or accessories that fit with the clients marketing approach. The more you know your clients, the more you do not frustrate them by offering inappropriate items for promotions or me-too items that will show your lack of creativity"
Love this approach, Steve! I put the emphasis on goals based on new orders and new clients because you can not count on reorders, you have to be pursuing those five "bullseye accounts" that I've been telling you about for years, and keeping your current relationships fresh and compelling. Daily, weekly and monthly goals based on growth, trying new things, being compelling and asking for referrals—these are worthwhile and meaningful, not an annual number on a spreadsheet that your manager sets as a random target.
Thanks, all, for the excellent insight and input. Everyone is different. The variables are infinite. Carve out your own unique path—one that you are in complete control of—and you'll exceed your own high expectations. Be Bold. Be Different. Be Memorable.
Rick Greene, MAS, is the Western Regional Vice-President of HALO Branded Solutions, a Past President of SAAC and on the PPB Editorial Advisory Board. His comic fantasy novels "Boofalo!" and "Shroom!" are available on Amazon.com. Buy one! Or Both!! Or all three, even!