Setting Sales Expectations

Monday, August 7 2023
  • Joe O’Neill – One of the most frustrating experiences is witnessing first hand how little practical thought goes into the process of setting sales expectations for sales teams. Often, salespeople get thrown in the deep end, are expected not to drown and blamed when they do.

The common denominator is sales managers neither recognize the importance of, nor know how to develop, manageable expectations when setting sales goals.

Setting Sales Expectations

The key to meeting this challenge is framing expectation using SMART goals because SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Agreed Upon
  • Realistic
  • Target Date

Being Realistic

Let’s start with “realistic”.  In a real example, speaking with a person responsible for telephone sales, the weekly appointment expectations were unrealistic. Working backwards, how many connections would they need? Then, how many  calls would they need to make. The average time it takes to make a connection, makes it mathematically impossible even calling 24/7/365. Ultimately, there are poor results and not surprisingly, the individual is going to quit.

Salespeople agreeing upon realistic and specific expectations, are far more likely to achieve desired results because they have an effective sales manager, understanding the logistics of the job, and communicating with their team.

Critical to this is the understanding that if you need to place unrealistic expectations on any individual to achieve minimal success, the problem is not the individual. A hockey coach is not going to set the expectation that the goalie will get a shutout in 75% of the team’s games, because if they don’t the team won’t win. Perhaps the solution is for the team to be able to score more goals.

It’s very important to communicate these expectations one-on-one, then tailor the message to each individual. Set agreed upon, realistic, measurable expectations. Help them to be motivated, enthusiastic and successful through regular coaching. Reference the agreed upon expectations, celebrate success (so important) and learn from failure.

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