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:

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 and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to

No Comments

Post A Comment