Setting Goals

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If you want to accomplish anything important in life, you need to have goals. Goals give you something to shoot for. They keep you focused and motivated. They let you know when to celebrate and when to start shooting for something higher. 

Goals are a part of all human endeavor – both in the workplace and in life in general. We measure ourselves by how we do in relation to the goals we have set ourselves and those we have set for us by management. By achieving a goal consistently we can benefit in a number of ways – we will gain recognition, potentially advancement within the company, and frequently will benefit from financial incentives.

So, we know the benefits of reaching goals – but there is more to goals than what happens when we attain them. When we are set goals, they are usually set at a reasonable but challenging level and we will be able to achieve them if we do our job well enough. 

Although we should all be well motivated to do our jobs anyway, the presence of targets keeps us “honest” and encourages us to always make as much effort as we can possibly make. Therefore sales targets have a dual effect – the incentive of what happens if we reach them, and their simple presence both make us work harder than we ordinarily might.

The Importance of Sales Goals

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Getting things done begins with setting goals. 

  • Goals provide direction. They help everyone in an organization focus on things that are truly important. Without goals, people are more likely to waste time on random activities that are not worthwhile. 
  • Goals should be ambitious but realistic. If you set goals too low, they will not inspire you to do your best. If you set them too high, you will probably not reach them, and you will end up just being discouraged.
  • Goals clarify everyone’s role and responsibilities. Each member of a team has individual goals that contribute to the team’s overall goals. Setting individual goals avoids duplication of efforts and makes people feel personally responsible for their work.
  • Goals can be motivational tools. It is difficult for people to feel inspired about their work if they feel they are just doing the same thing day in and day out, with no end in sight. Goals give people the feeling that their work is contributing to something larger, something worthwhile.

The benefits of goals are clear; it is how you react to the presence of sales goals that will mark how well you do as a salesperson. The idea of having goals is that they should be something achievable while not being easy. 

If you can attain your goals while working on auto-pilot, then the motivational impact of having them in the first place is somewhat lost. At the same time, if the goals set for you are too extensive, there will be at best a limited chance of you achieving them, and the overall effect will be a de-motivating one as nothing you do will be quite enough to see you attain them. 

Goals also need to mean something. If your sole reward for attaining a goal is to simply know that you have achieved it, then it will have limited impact on your motivation. You probably already know that you could attain these goals, but if there is no material reward for so doing you may be left wondering why you actually bothered.

For this reason, most companies will have an incentives package which pays out when you meet your goals, and this will focus the minds of even the more cynical salespeople. The benefit of targets for salespeople is that they make a belt-and-braces approach – motivating those for whom achievement is its own reward, and those who expect more tangible, material rewards.

Setting SMART Goals

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SMART goals are:

  • Specific. Goals should be well-defined and clear to you and your coworkers.
  • Measurable. Goals might include milestones that help you measure your progress and make sure you are on the right track. The goals themselves should also be measurable.
  • Achievable. Goals should be based on a knowledgeable assessment of what is possible. Unattainable goals discourage rather than encourage.
  • Relevant. Goals should reflect the basic values and mission of your organization, and they should be directly related to your vision of success.
  • Timed. If you do not have a timetable for reaching goals, you will not feel a sense of urgency about them. It is natural for people to devote most of their effort on any given day to things that have due dates.

The best goals are simple, one-sentence statements that anyone can understand. When setting goals, fewer words are better. Setting too many goals can be counter-productive. Focus on goals that will have the greatest impact on achieving your vision of success. 

Some companies, knowing that goals are a significant motivational tool, really go overboard when setting them. They will give their staff targets on several different measurements – some of which will contradict the others. 

It is also fair to say that an important element of setting SMART goals is calibration. There is every chance that targets will be set for the first month that are either too easily achieved, or too difficult. By looking at how people have performed in relation to their targets, it is easy to see whether they have been set too high or too low, and the targets can then be adjusted. 

It may take a month or two to get targets to the right level, as it is important to avoid over-correction. Once this is done, you should have a set of achievable but challenging goals which will bring the best out of staff and provide a motivated working environment.

Case Study

Chris burnt rubber, but got nowhere fast. With no goals in his mind, Chris just spun like a hamster on a wheel all through his workday. Caroline, his boss, noticed that Chris had no clear path to get ahead at work so she knew the time had come to lead Chris down the right path. Caroline helped Chris put one foot in front of the other and kept his eye on the prize and taught him not to lose sight of his goals. Chris landed on the fast track that head down a clear lane and beat one goal after another until he sped past them all and made room for bigger goals and put on his running shoes to leave them in the dust because he now had a clear vision of which direction to head.