Sales Goal Setting - 3 reasons it can fail... | Salestrong


Sales Goal Setting – 3 reasons it can fail…

Why it is that we often fail to achieve our sales goals? After all, as a sales professional, when we set goals, we do so for a reason, i.e. there’s something we want to achieve and it’s of such significant importance to us that we are driven to putting it into words.

So what stops us from being truly successful?  Does the goal just slowly diminish in it’s importance to us?  Well, in a very few cases, yes, but more often, there are greater forces at work. Here’s 3 reasons why setting goals in sales can sometime end in failure:

  1. We lack commitment to the goal.  This occurs most often where the goal setting is being driven by somebody else.  For example, a sales leader who suggests to a member of their team that they set a goal to communicate more with the rest of the team, will get less buy in than they would from a member of a team who tells their leader they’d like to set a goal to communicate more with the rest of their team.  Equally, when we fail to prioritise our goals, either by downplaying their importance in relation to other, more immediate concerns or by simply ignoring them, we set ourselves on the route to failure.
  2. We make it too difficult.  Most of us (if we’re honest) could come up with a great big long list of things we’d like to be better at, but listing all of them will not bring you any closer to achieving any one of them.  When we set too many goals it dilutes our focus.  Instead of applying all our efforts towards achieving just 1 or 2 goals (I would suggest a maximum of 3), we become overwhelmed by the sheer scale of our ambition and inevitably the feeling that the task is just unachievable sets in.  We also experience this feeling of resignation when we fail to be specific about our goals.  If I just set a goal to communicate more with the members of my team, without providing exact details of what I mean by that and how I intend to do it, I am unlikely to be successful because I have not clearly defined what it is I want to achieve and therefore cannot be certain if and when I have achieved it.  Conversely, if I set a goal to provide a weekly report to the rest of team on my key accounts and their status, I will have absolute clarity on how to achieve this goal and will know when I have achieved it.
  3. We make it too easy.  Achieving our goals makes us feel great, so goal setting for ‘quick wins’ that we know we can easily achieve will certainly give us a boost but, just like reaching for a chocolate bar to stave off a hunger pang, the short term benefits are outweighed by the long term effects.  Quick win goals do nothing to really challenge us and if the purpose of goals is to help us realise our potential and be the best we can be, then only goals that push us that bit further can help us to achieve that.

Did we mention a 4th reason? 🙂

We fail to monitor our Goals.

In my humble opinion, sports teams are now blazing the trail in how to effectively set, monitor and achieve goals. Eddie Howe (Bournemouth AFC) and Sir David Brailsford (Team Sky/Team GB Cycling) are names you should look up and observe their attention to ‘data’ as well as detail when it comes to goal setting and monitoring.

Regular monitoring of our goals not only helps us to establish focus, but it also provides the motivation that will help us achieve our goals in the form of smaller achievements along the way.  For the cycling enthusiast, the term “marginal gains” applies here.

Monitoring our goals requires us to:

  • Put in place a system for recording and measuring progress – How many deals/value gets to the specific target?
  • Set a deadline by which the goal should be achieved – Easy answer here is not the one to look for as we can all say end of the month!
  • Break the goal down into smaller, clearly-defined actions, each with it’s own deadline.
  • Constantly evaluate the goal – it’s OK to change the goal, other influencing factors may come into play and force you to adjust your goal, but if you’re not evaluating it, the likely outcome is that you’ll unnecessarily abandon it.

In summary, its a combination of commitment and realistic expectations of the why, how and what you want to achieve. As always, feel free to treat this as a framework you ‘can try at home’ either for yourself or your team but ensure you stay committed. I also use the Eisenhower Matrix to help with setting goals and meeting deadlines which you can read about in this blog and get yourself a free template to kick start things off.

Whilst you’re here…..Did you know? Salestrong use sales technology to monitor goals within our programmes and both Learning & Development and Sales absolutely love it.

Click here to read a case study on how a sales coaching app helped deliver cultural change and £2million increase sales for one of our clients.

All The Best.

Rob L.


Tracey Davison

Tracey Davison

Tracey’s background is in sales and customer-service, having lead internal sales teams to deliver targets through cross and up-selling, whilst achieving exceptional customer service levels.

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