5 Tips for Setting Effective Sales Goals

The majority of us know that we need to set good sales goals in order to set the tone for the rest of the year. I’m not going to spend time telling you that this needs to be done and why it needs to be done - it’s pretty obvious to all of us and there are plenty of resources out there telling you just that.

The bigger challenges with sales goals are that we don’t exactly know why these goals are important to us and how to set strong goals, develop a plan to achieve them, and work the plan to get there.

The way most companies and people set sales goals is to say, “We had a strong year last year, so let’s just add on 10% in revenue as the goal for this year since that’s how we’ve done it before and that’ll make everyone happy.” Or “I should/could do this since I’ve heard other people around me tell me I should/could do this, so that’s what I’ll do.” The problem with this is that there are no motivators to drive people to achieve, it’s not clear how it ties to the company or person’s vision for themselves, and it’s easy to fall off from the goal when you start to hit a few bumps in the road - and there will always be bumps in the road.

Tips for Managers to Help Set Stronger, Achievable Sales Goals

  1. It's not just about money!

When I ask leaders and managers what motivates their people, the number one answer I hear the majority of the time is “MONEY.” The green stuff, the moo-lah, the dough, etc. “It’s obvious that my people are motivated by money – isn’t everybody!?!” Or “Why wouldn’t they just be motivated by money?” is what I typically hear. Here’s the problem: In the 1980s and early 1990s, that was the case for the majority of people, especially in sales. Most people were extrinsic in their motivation style and loved making money, watching the zeros add up in their bank accounts, and doing their best to “keep up with the Joneses.” That’s why we had many movies and TV shows about business and making money, wealth, lavish lifestyles, and greed. (Did you see “Wall Street,” “Glengarry Glen Ross,” or “Dallas”?) This motivation style began to shift in the mid-1990s to a more intrinsic motivation style as the Generation X and Y and Millennial folks came into business. It became more about self-development, satisfaction in your job, work-life balance, and giving back to others. These days, it’s not just about the money.

The key questions you need to be asking your people are, “What motivates you to come to work and do a great job each day?” and “What are you doing with the money you make?” These are going to tell you what truly motivates them and what you need to align to when helping them set sales goals.

  1. It’s not about you - it’s about them.

Stop assuming your people are wired and motivated the same way you are! Just because you have a certain style of motivation and are driven by certain goals does not mean your people are motivated in the same way and have the same goals as you. You have to stop making it about you. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

Your people are more motivated and driven by the pool in their backyard, not the one in yours. They care more about reaching their personal goals and taking care of themselves than the company reaching its goals. It’s just a matter of fact – we’re all self-motivated.

Focus on figuring out what’s most important to them personally and how you can help them to reach these things.

  1. Help them connect how exceeding company Sales goals helps them hit or exceed personal goals.

I know, you get it. As a company leader, you get it that if the company brings in more revenue and generates more profit, you get to take home more money, live the great lifestyle you want and do a lot of cool things, plus brag to all of your friends and peers about how great you and your company are these days. You get it and connect the dots pretty easily. Problem is, your people aren’t you (see above) and they don’t always get it in the same way you do or connect the dots as easily. They sometimes have a hard time understanding how if they do more, they get more, and how it helps them to reach their personal goals more easily and faster.

As a leader, it’s your job to help them connect the dots. Find out and understand what truly motivates them and why, and then help them to connect how exceeding company sales goals will help them get to what they want sooner. Don’t just assume that they’ll do this on their own.

  1. Help them develop strong goals and a plan for getting there. (They probably have never been taught how to do it.)

Ok, so you finally figured out what truly drives your people and why and you’ve helped them connect the dots on how achieving company sales goals will help them reach their personal goals. Great job! Time to call it a day and put it on auto-pilot as your people exceed their goals for the rest of the year, right?


The work is just beginning. Now we have to help our people make those goals a reality.

Most leaders think that once they’ve rallied the troops and gotten some good goals in place, all else will just work out perfectly. They couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Most people have never set good, clear goals, developed a plan to achieve them, and tracked to them for success. They know that this is the way to achieve goals in theory, but they’ve never seen it or done it in real time.

Don’t just assume that your people know how to do this – help them to do it. Start by working with them to set SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based. Then develop a strategy and milestones to achieve, broken down monthly, weekly, and daily, along with KPIs and metrics. Weekly and monthly checkpoints are important in order to achieve goals. Have them write these down and set weekly reviews to make sure that they’re on track to reach them and adjust when needed. (And, by the way – do this for your own goals, too.)

  1. Review Goals weekly, adjust where needed, and push them to overachieve.

Goals are reached through the daily actions and behaviors that add up to the big goals being achieved. Too often, we set a goal and plan to achieve it, write it down with a deadline, and then put the plan away in a drawer and don’t review it again until six months or a year later. At that point we say to ourselves, “I totally forgot about getting this done and I’m so far behind now that there’s no way I’ll be able to achieve this.” Don’t fall into this trap ever again.

What gets scheduled gets done. Put the daily behaviors in the calendar with your people and set weekly time with them to review the behaviors and achievement of the KPIs and metrics. This ensures that they’re on track to achieve their goals and they can adjust to get back on track to the goals in real-time when needed. (And you’ll need to adjust the behaviors and KPIs/metrics because no plan goes perfectly). Be consistent with the reviews and make sure that they’re not missed.

Don’t leave your people’s goals, plans, and achievements to chance. Put the above items in place to help your people exceed their goals and for you, your employees, and your company to have your best year yet.

Want to learn more about how to work with your team to reach the next level? Contact Lushin today and see how our leadership training, management consulting, and sales infrastructure programs can grow your bottom line.

Shad Tidler

Connect with Shad Tidler

For 25 years, Lushin has guided business leaders toward intentional, predictable growth.

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