Does your sales team own its goals?

 By Greta Schulz

This is the time most of you are creating or enacting goals and objectives for 2017, including the number crunching for revenue forecasts. Are you doing it right?

I had an in-depth conversation with the sales vice president of an aeronautical products company. We were discussing how good he was at gathering the sales data on how many customers they gained, the percentage that each customer spent as to the overall budget, what the top products were and so on. He then explained to me how he created the budgets for the next year for each of his salespeople. He said he had been creating their budgets this same way for several years.

I asked a few questions here and got that look that you get when you speak to your dog and he obviously doesn’t understand you. My questions were:

• Have each of the salespeople made their budget numbers?

• Why or why not?

• How did you involve them in their sales budget decision?

I admire someone who has the ability to create spreadsheets of probability when creating goals and budgets. The problem is, there are actual people involved in making this happen, and just because someone puts it on paper doesn’t make it so.

In a perfect world, we can come up with a logical budget on paper based on statistics and data. Great. Then we have to actually get our salespeople responsible for making it happen. Of course, there are several reasons why we often have a shortfall. One of the most important ways to reach a sales goal is to create ownership of those goals for each salesperson.

When we are a part of a decision, when we have skin in the game, we are much more likely to make desired outcomes happen—because they are ours.

This year, whether you have come up with goals yet, get your salespeople to define what success is for them. What do they want and need to earn? Why? What will they have to sell and how much will they have to sell to reach that goal? What do they have to do to reach that number?

Having your salespeople each come up with their own business plan will help create buy-in and therefore ownership of their business.

Give them the basics of the data that you have for their territory or category. Give them everything but your budget numbers for them. Ask them to take a week or so, review all of the information and create a goal and a plan that they will follow for next year to reach the goal they have set. Have them present that to you and any other senior executives necessary, and tell them to be prepared for questions about their plan.

Typically, you will find that they are harder on themselves than you would be and they often come up with a higher number for their goal than you will. If not, push them back on that and ask them why so low?

It is also important that their goals are attached to something that is meaningful to them—not some pie-in-the-sky number to impress you. If you would like to download a form that will help them figure out how much money they want and need to make, here is a free one for you: StartwithGoals.com.

Give your salespeople all of the tools to be successful, but don’t expect them to follow your goals without involving them. They need to make them theirs as well.

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is the best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.