How to set sales goals

Effectively motivating salespeople helps them achieve even more

There are right ways and wrong ways to determine sales goals, but one thing is certain: You need to know what success looks like before you can embark on it.

Goals define where we need to go from any given starting point, and once reached, we need further goals if we expect to grow and prosper into the future.

Your overall company vision will be achieved largely to the degree that your sales goals are successfully reached. The goals you set with your sales team can actually boost their performance when the numbers and benchmarks are strategically derived. Everyone has unique motivators and every salesperson needs to participate in goal setting with their team leader, taking ownership of both individual and department goals.

One of the sales manager’s most important roles is to connect employee goals with sales department goals, which are ultimately tied to the company vision. This is crucial for motivating employees to perform at optimum levels. In short, the business owner or sales manager needs to:

 • Connect the company vision with sales team performance

 • Define tangible and intangible goals that motivate team members

 • Direct behaviors toward improving individual and team performance

 • Use a defined process for setting individual performance expectations

While some of this may sound a bit sterile or policy-driven for dealing with a team of salespeople, it must be understood that we’re talking about human beings here, each with different values, motivators and emotional needs. We need to consider the importance of our employee relationships and allow our people to find their own unique paths to success within the company.

Effectively motivating salespeople involves setting the right expectations of performance behaviors that lead to goal achievement. Here is a step-by-step process that can provide a roadmap for you and your sales team to stay accountable and on the same page:

1: Discuss personal goals and aspirations with each salesperson: It’s important to understand the three dominant motivators of most people and apply them according to the tendencies of each salesperson. These motivating factors can be even more important than money to some salespeople as incentives to perform:

 • Relationship: Individuals who are relationship-motivated have a need for friendly relationships and are motivated by interaction with other people. They are typically good team players.

 • Status: Individuals who are status-motivated have a need to be effective, influential and to make an impact. They typically have a strong need to lead and get their ideas across. Increasing their personal status and prestige is important.

 • Achievement: Individuals who are achievement-motivated have a need for a sense of accomplishment. They seek the attention of realistic yet challenging goals. They have a strong need for feedback related to achievement and progress. They constantly seek improvement and ways to do things better.

2: Relate each salesperson’s personal goals to the sales department’s objective: “Employee ownership of department goals” is best achieved when a salesperson is encouraged to participate in setting the team goals in addition to their own. Their input should be listened to and taken seriously with only constructive feedback given.

3: Identify the behaviors and performance requirements needed to reach the goal: In sales you don’t manage results. You manage behaviors. The specific behaviors that produce results are well understood by a professionally managed sales force. It’s up to the sales manager and each team member to come up with action plans to hit their targets.

4: Develop and review benchmarks for performance: Sales goals need timelines and benchmarks to measure progress along the way to achievement. Individual behaviors can be reviewed and adjusted as needed.

5: Relate individual sales achievements to department expectations as well as personal and company goals: Design the compensation system to reward the personal achievements of the salesperson in accordance with departmental and corporate objectives.

Celebrating goal achievement is one of the most rewarding aspects of the sales and management professions. The rewards come in the form of team spirit, camaraderie, personal recognition and, of course, money!

Effective sales managers channel their team members’ efforts toward their goals. They monitor performance against established benchmarks and provide appropriate human support. As the leader of your sales force, you enable your team members to fulfill their personal goals and aspirations. In so doing, they will help you achieve your company goals.

Kevin Hallenbeck, principal of Sandler Training- Manchester, can be reached through or 603-232-1520. 

Categories: Business Advice