Sales Target Setting

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

iPad and paperwork showing graphsSales Target Setting

The Foundation of a Successful Sales Career

Executive Summary

You should have a plethora of personal goals: Lifetime goals such as retirement. Family goals like a successful marriage and children. Wealth goals for a beautiful home and other assets. Spiritual goals of a religious or mental health nature. Physical goals like good health. The list goes on and on. While all of your personal life goals interconnect, in that most goals depend or relate to other goals, we want to focus on only one specific area: Sales Goals.

Once you have found a company and a product that you firmly believe in and where you are committed to achieving success over the long-term, then you must establish a clear set of obtainable sales goals.

Sales Target Setting is key for a successful sales career!

Any sales leader should have covered this topic on any Sales Management Training that they have gone through but just incase you’ve got a sales manager who isn’t aware of this then the following will be really useful for you,

In most professions, time, seniority and good behaviour will propel a person to the top of their field. In many career fields, if a person simply does his or her job, maintaining an acceptable level of performance, and does so for many years, this person could reach the highest levels in their chosen occupation.

In the world of sales however, this is far from the norm!

To reach high levels in professional sales requires uncommon personal performance and individual effort. To reach above average performance, you need to set above average goals and reach them. The following information will help you establish sales goals and a blueprint to obtaining them on a consistent basis.

Goals or Needs — What’s the Difference?

The first step in sales target setting is to differentiate between what are goals/targets and what are needs.

“To pay your rent or mortgage you must have X amount of money and to get that money you must make X number of sales and therefore your goal is X number of sales.”

This is not a goal; it is a need.

When you use your needs as goals, you are working to reach your basic levels of living. When you set this bar, you will usually just reach it or fall just short. Hence, if you work only for a living, you well never really live. Your goals must surpass your basic needs so that by reaching your goals, all of your needs fall into place. Also, if you fall short of reaching your goals, you will have still surpassed your needs.

The purpose of sales goals is to help you to continuously improve and reach higher levels of success. Sales goals are to help you get better, not to help you barely survive.

Also, sales goals will help you measure and quantify your success. So first, be sure that you are not setting goals that are what you need to survive. Now let us examine some traditional goal setting philosophy.

The Basics

Traditional goal setting teaching tells us that all good goals should have several elements in common.

Parameters for good goals:

1. The goal should stretch your boundaries, exceed your immediate reach
2. You must believe in the goal, believe that it is possible
3. The goal must be very specific, exact
4. The goal should have an exact deadline
5. The goal should be written down

While these rules cannot apply to every type of goal, the basics are essentially true, particularly when it comes to setting goals of a general nature.

However, as mentioned, we will focus only on sales goals. So let us slightly alter the above basics to fit the sales category only.

Basics for Sales Targets

1. The Goal should exceed your grasp and ultimately exceed the norm of the company
2. You should be able to clearly visualise the reality of the goal
3. The Goal must be detailed and reverse-engineered
4. Your Goals should have many milestones, incremental steps
5. Your Goal should be written and diagrammed on paper
6. Read and commit to the Goals everyday

The Goal should exceed your grasp and ultimately exceed the norm of the company While setting good goals can launch your sales career to new heights, setting poorly chosen goals can put you out of business.

In setting good sales goals, each goal should stretch you. Each goal should exceed what is easily obtainable for you. Your goals should motivate you to rise above your previous levels. While this may sound simple, it is more complex and it is where most sales people fail. While you need to set lofty goals, if those goals are too high, they actually can have the reverse effect and become detrimental to your psyche and your success. Goals that are set too low are of no effect. Goals that are set too high can destroy you. How do you find the correct balance of goals that stretch you but not too far?

One method to accomplish this is to set your goals at the places where you fail.

In fact, you cannot truly succeed or establish realistic goals until you first fail. Find the things that you came close to doing but fell short and start right there. Take a high jumper for instance. The bar is set at a height of seven feet. The athlete makes the attempt and successfully clears the bar. The bar is then set at seven feet, two inches and the jumper again clears the bar.

The bar rises to seven feet three inches and once again, cleared with no problem. Has this high jumper really succeeded? He does not know if he has yet been tested. It is only when the bar is set to a height that he cannot jump, that he has reached a point to set a goal.

Now the athlete must stretch himself and reach a new level of performance.

Also, if the jumper failed to get over the bar at seven feet four inches, does he set a goal to jump eight feet? Maybe a long-term goal might be to someday reach eight feet, but the jumper’s next immediate goal has to be to successfully jump the very next height; the height in which he failed to clear. Then he must work harder and practice longer until finally he clears the next height.

Now he has succeeded!

If you take this approach in setting Next Step Goals, you will always set high goals, yet realistic goals. Figure out what are some next step goals for yourself.

Perhaps you want to move to the very next income bracket. Not jump six brackets, just move up one. Or maybe you want to sell just two more contracts this month or this quarter more than the last period. You want to earn just one pound more than you did last week or win the next sales contest.

If you came in last in the previous contest, then perhaps you set a goal to come in third place.

Use this method to help you establish short-term, next-step goals.

You should be able to clearly visualise the reality of the goal
Believing in a goal is one thing. But to be able to close your eyes and see it as a reality is another. You may be able to convince yourself that you could become the top sales person in your company. However, if you cannot actually visual this as reality, it will not happen.

You may believe that it is possible, but you do not believe that it will happen. You can believe that it is possible for you to score a hole-in-one on almost every hole on the golf course, because technically and physically, it is possible. However, you do not believe it will happen and you could never really visualise such as being real. Your goals must be that which you not only believe in, but which you can visual yourself receiving.

Goal must be detailed and reverse-engineered
Goals should be well detailed, precise and for long-term goals, they should be reverse-engineered. Sales goals must be detailed. It is not enough to say that you want to be the top sales person. You have to describe exactly what that means. This does not mean that you must emulate the characteristics of the top sales person, just detail things like what sales numbers, contracts and number of presentations it will require.

Also, for long term goals like sales person of the year, break theses goals down by reversing the goal. Start from the end desired result, then work backwards to determine each incremental step toward the finished objective.

As an example, you want to win an annual sales contest in where to win you will need to produce 36 sales contracts within the twelve-month contest period.

Begin with the 36 sales and work backward: For instance, to close 36 sales for the year, you will need to close three sales per month. To close three sales per month, you will have to do 15 sales presentations per month due to your one out of five closing average.

To complete 15 presentations per month, you will have make 60 calls from your database because it takes you four calls on average to get one presentation. To make 60 calls per month you will have to make 15 database calls per week or three calls every single day.

Reverse-engineer your goals to break them down into short-term stepping-stones.

Goals should have many milestones, incremental steps
Now take these Next Step Goals and the long-term goals along with their short-term interim steps and insure clear, incremental milestones. You should look to achieve some small step every day or week. Set up small, achievable objectives.

Goal should be written and diagrammed on paper
Now that you have the incremental steps and milestones, you need to diagram and map out the details of the “plans.” You want to write down more than the goal, but the path and the steps involved.


Simple Written Goal:
“I will make 20 sales this month. “

Written and Diagrammed Goal:
“I will make 20 sales this month by setting 60 appointments. I will set these appointments by making cold calls on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 am until noon and then from 2:00 pm until 4:00 pm.

5 hours per day cold calling =
5 appointments per day X
3 days per week =
15 appointments per week =
60 appointments for the month =
21 sales using the company low average of 35% closing rate

Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:

Happy Sales Target Setting!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 19 August, 2008

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