By Sean O’Neil
Feb. 23, 2012
I was on The New Yorker website when I stumbled across a cartoon of a man, presumably, a manager of some kind, talking to another man sitting in a cubicle. The caption read: “We’re getting ready to begin the next phase of keeping things exactly the way they are.”
It wasn’t the greatest New Yorker cartoon I’d ever seen, but it did make me think: How many sales managers out there are essentially saying the very same thing to their sales forces? How many are holding on to the same sales goals even though they know full well that the market, their tactics, or team’s focus has changed? How many are using their sales forces in the same way, year in and year out, despite not ever having accurately measured their effectiveness?
Sales managers who freeze when it comes to creating new sales goals usually do so because they’re afraid of making mistakes or think the goals have to be perfect before they ask their teams to reach them. The truth is that the goals don’t have to be perfect. They do, however, have to shift along with industry trends, in accordance with tactics that are and aren’t working, and with your organization’s business goals.
When it comes to sales, we all know that the one thing that will result in certain failure is standing still. Sales managers probably know this better than most, and yet, when it comes to setting new sales goals, many do just that. They set goals for the month, quarter, or year, and no matter how the climate around them changes, they remain stoic in their resolve to meet their original targets, even if hitting those targets may no longer be appropriate—or even realistic.
Of course, it does no good to set new goals or amend existing ones simply for the sake of doing it. Just because your goals don’t have to be perfect doesn’t mean that you should set them uninformed.
You have to set your goals as well as measure levels of achievement. Determine the quality of opportunities and how to close them. To do this, you need a solid set of metrics and to perform analyses on a regular basis in order to uncover whether the metrics are being met, and also, whether the metrics themselves are creating the desired results for your company.
Some basic metrics you might use to judge opportunities and the processes required to close them might be:
Was there an opportunity?
Could our company compete?
Did our company win the opportunity?
Was the opportunity worth winning?